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BWW Blog: THE RESIDUALS: 'Stay Away From My Footage, or I Will Cut You!'

In October, BroadwayWorld's webseries partner THE RESIDUALS completed a successful $20,000 KickStarter campaign to help fund their second season. Soon after, husband and wife co-creators Michael Paul Smith and Gillian Pensavalle began shooting Season Two; which will guest star SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE's Horatio Sanz and WICKED and SABRINA, THE TEENAGE WITCH's Jenna Leigh Green. Currently, Pensavalle, who serves as the series' editor, is neck deep in footage, but she took some time earlier this week to update the show's supporters:

Hello lovely Kickstarterers,

I hope you had a wonderful THANKSGIVING and you're enjoying the beginning of December, my absolute favorite month of the year. I've always loved December and not just because of the Christmas season and my birthday (but yeah, those are both big reasons). December just always felt like home to me. Last year, December gained a new association: editing. Here I am, for the second year in a row, editing THE RESIDUALS during my favorite month. It's awesome.

A lot of people ask me about the editing process so I thought I'd share a little bit of it with you, if that's okay.

Before Season One I had never edited a series before. My editing experience consisted of making short sketches or one minute hosting videos. I was very proficient at Final Cut Pro but I didn't know how to take hours and hours of raw footage - from all different angles - and put it together to make a series.

For me, editing begins on set. Not the physical act of editing, but thinking like an editor. The thing is, as co-creator/star/producer/makeup/etc it's hard to always do that. Plus I'll admit, I'm still learning as I go. Mike made a meticulous shot list, outlining every single shot and angle we would need.

But of course, things happen spur of the moment and in those times, I tried my best to anticipate what I'd need when I sat down to edit. Thankfully, our crew this season (Director of Photography Ed Caraballo and Sound Guru Sean Orr) helped with that.

A little of Mike's awesomely detailed shot list.

Okay, so here's the process:

Every day on set, all the footage is transferred onto an external hard drive. Sometimes this happens twice a day to make room for more space on the memory cards in the camera and sound equipment. The entire series lives on a 4.5 inch x 3 inch black rectangle and I guard this thing with my life. If someone tries to go near it, I turn into Beatrix Kiddo in "The Showdown at House of Blue Leaves" in KILL BILL.

Fine, I don't actually use deadly force with Hattori Hanzo steel but you get the idea.

The first thing I do (Seriously, the first thing - I don't even take my jacket off) after Mike and I lug all of our gear up to our 4th floor walk up is turn my computer on and back up everything from the day on to yet another external hard drive.

Rinse and repeat for 6 shoot days.

Before I could start any type of editing, we had to do a ton of paperwork (see below post). After that was done, I dove into the precise and somewhat tedious job of audio syncing.

Ah, audio syncing.

You know how right before the director calls action, someone will stand in front of the camera, say the scene number, and clap a slate? The clap noise/motion is there as a marker so the audio and video can be easily synced together. On our set Carrie-Rachel Dean is appropriately known as the Slate Goddess.

Carrie-Rachel Dean slating a scene with me, Mike, and Horatio.

There is software that will do this automatically but I don't use it. Some people think I'm making more work for myself but here's why I prefer to do it manually:

1) I get to see every single frame of footage we have. It was rare, but I couldn't always watch a scene being filmed. For example, sometimes I was changing/getting ready for my next scene, or I was transferring footage we already filmed. Anyway, audio syncing lets me see it all and watching everything helps me go into the editing process with an idea of what I have to work with.

2) Mike wrote a really funny script and we had amazing actors so it's also just fun to watch.

We had - and I'll lowball here - about 300 individual shots and let's say we had an average of 2 takes per shot (some only needed one take, others took four). That's at least 600 clips of audio syncing. So yeah, it took me a few weeks to get through it all.

But I did! And yesterday I started actually editing the footage together. Thanks to you, our generous backers, I'm able to edit the season in order. Last year, I was jumping around and editing during the weeks in between shoot days. It wasn't bad, it was just... different (just kidding, this time around is way better). I'm so excited that I get to put the season together as you're going to see it.

Editing the raw footage into scenes is actually just the beginning. It's the first round in what feels like thousands. But I'm so excited and thrilled to be doing it.

So far, I'm just about three scenes into the first episode and I'm working hard on taking breaks and drinking water so I don't turn into Ben Wyatt when he made 'Requiem for a Tuesday' on PARKS AND RECREATION.

Now if only I had a Letters to Cleo shirt.

Gillian Pensavalle is the co-creator/star/editor of the webseries THE RESIDUALS and also plays the role of Valere Winters. The episodes, and more information, can be seen on Follow the show on Twitter @TheResiduals, and like it on Facebook.

Photo Credit:
1) The Residuals
2) Uma Thurman: Miramax
3) The Residuals
4) The Residuals

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