Editing: Disney+'s <I>Jim Henson Idea Man</I>
June 14, 2024

Editing: Disney+'s Jim Henson Idea Man

Jim Henson Idea Man takes viewers into the mind of the creative visionary behind Sesame Street and The Muppets. The Disney+ documentary goes inside Henson’s personal archives, and offers an insightful look into a complex man whose boundless imagination inspired the world. 

Ron Howard directed the project, which features an original score by David Fleming. Paul Crowder, ACE, served as both editor and executive producer on the project, working in collaboration with Howard, editor Sierra Neal, the Henson family and the creative team at Imagine.

“We designed the feel and pacing for the film,” says Crowder. “Inspired by Jim’s own work in experimental film and his music choices, we set out to use all that to our advantage in the edit, and the fact that both Sierra and I have a strong musical background and understanding of music, as well as the desire to push the boundaries. This really helped shape the film and make it feel as close to Jim’s own work as we could.”

The project was edited using Avid Media Composer V.2021.6, with NEXIS storage and a remote desktop workflow. They also used and Boris FX Sapphire plug-ins.

“The interviews were all shot in what we called ‘The Cube,’ inspired by Jim’s own film of the same name, released in 1967,” Crowder explains. This was a place where anything can happen, which includes interviews popping off screen, integrating Jim’s own animation as a layer, popping photos across the cube, changing angles, to a point where a TV appears in the cube and the next scene starts on the TV. All of those elements, which were brilliantly recreated and more embellished by Bigstar, were all created in Avid very crudely using multiple layers, including the building of the cube and the intro sequence. It was truly a joy to edit.”

Sierra Neal (pictured) notes that the documentary makes use of film archives, interviews, stop-motion animation and visual effects. Crowder, she adds, helped set the editorial tone.

“Paul set the fast-paced energy for the whole doc with an early cut scene that mimicked the Sesame Street counting films from the ‘70s,” she recalls. “It unlocked a visual and rhythmic style that seemed to worked so well and matched much of Jim's own editing work. It allowed us to fit a lot of fun visuals, and interesting information into a short amount of time. Even though the scene wound up on the cutting room floor, we used it as tone setter and it really became the basis for the style of the film.”