This is the “print” version of my chat with Sara Scotti and Karl Kimbrough, both editors on Fox’s LEGO MASTERS. You can subscribe to the Art of the Frame podcast on Anchor, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you catch your podcasts.
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Scott Simmons: Welcome to another Art Of The Frame podcast. I’m Scott Simmons, and today I’m sitting down with two editors for what has to be one of my favorite current shows, maybe one of my favorite shows ever, especially if my children were talking here. We’re talking about Lego Masters. Lego Masters is in its second season on Fox.
And if you don’t know about Lego Masters, I’m shocked that you’re on the planet, but it is a Lego competition building show that if you’ve ever touched Legos, you will be amazed at what you see on Lego Masters. So look it up. So I’m here with two folks, Sara Scotti, as an editor who has worked on the show, as is Karl Kimbrough, who’s worked on the show, I think, since the very beginning.
Thank you both for joining me here for this afternoon chat.
Karl Kimbrough: Awesome.
Sara Scotti: Thanks for having us.
Scott: Yeah, for sure Sara. So I’ll start with you have you been on both seasons or just the second season?
Sara: I did work on both seasons. I worked for a very short time on season one, kind of just came in at the end to sort of pick up some of the slack and sort of help out at the very end to bring it to the finish line.
But a second season was definitely like where I got to really dig my teeth in.
Scott: Very nice. And Karl, what about you? You are a supervising editor. So I assume you’re telling everybody all the other editors, what to do.
Karl: The role of supervising editor has changed so much in the last 10 years, but first off I’ve been on the show.
Thankfully I got on day one. Uh, Last season and I was also the last person on, at the end. And then same with this season, even though I was going to wrap up three weeks ago, we wind up extending and now I’m literally the last person on again with the same person I was last on last time. That’s like, you know, from the bitter, beginning to the bitter end, but yeah, supervising role on these shows, like sometimes you’ll be on a show on a reality show where the supervising editor is actually active, but sometimes it’s just sort of like, where you get on first and you’re setting the look and the format and creating the toolbox and the kit to try to make it easier for everybody to work. If you’re in person, not remotely, you do have sometimes gatherings and meetings and just share how it can do it better and how to do the graphics in and out, et cetera.
Scott: You mentioned remotely, are you working remotely on this show? I guess the first season probably was a lot of remote. How has the remote world and the pandemic factored into both season one and season two?
Sara: The first season was not remote. We were in the office. The second season’s been entirely remote. And it’s worked out really well.
I mean, you know, we’ve got a lot of editors, a lot of producers and you know, we’re somehow able to make TV seamlessly, which is partly been shocking, but also I guess, a Testament to everybody and, the professionalism of everyone we’re working with because I feel like we didn’t even miss a beat.
But yeah, we’ve just pretty much took home drives with incredible amounts of footage on it. And you know, we keep in communication with slack and email and whatnot, and pretty much just continue to keep the ball rolling from home. I feel like it’s gone pretty smoothly.
Karl: To add to that. I mean the beginning of the pandemic.
And we were on Lego Masters. And we got shut down the last two weeks before we were wrapped on Lego and at an emergency, they packed up the entire series. I mean, everything onto these portable drives, right. That is about 112 terabytes. They put the whole season on it and we took it home. And we have it now at our home offices as well.
Right now, as I’m talking to, I’m actually at the Avid bay, I cut this season on, and to my right, is that giant tower.
Scott: I think you’re right. That a lot of people realize they have to”pivot”, we hear the word pivot a lot. They had to pivot to be able to continue doing what they do and producing entertainment when the pandemic hit.
And it’s really amazing to see how much, how different things have been. But yet the show goes on as they must say. But you guys mentioned lots of footage. That’s one of the first things I wanted to get into is the amount of footage that must be captured to produce this show.
Because when I started watching the first season and they started doing some of these builds, I thought, oh, they’re going to get a few hours to build one of these creations. But yet here you have six, eight teams that are given 12 hours to build this creation that they’re working on. Which means you’ve got multiple cameras roaming around for large amounts of time, possibly stationary cameras capturing each table.
Karl, maybe start with you speak a little bit into how much footage is captured and how do they capture that much stuff to be able to produce this show.
Karl: This was shot a little bit faster than last season, but they actually shoot over three days for a build. And what happens is they’ll do the hours that they’re given, but because of all the preamble, setting up. Wrapping each day, they really get about, I think between three to four and sometimes a little higher hours a day to build, then they have to wrap.
Scott: Wait, hold on. So you’re telling me television’s a little bit fake?
Karl: So here’s how it works. Collectively 12 hours. Where’s the person that makes sure I say the right things?
Scott: That’s Sara.
Karl: Yeah. So they, so basically, yeah, it’s, it’s like with any of these shows, they do have to break it up.
And so they break it up over, cause you have to have lunch breaks and dinner breaks and everything like that. So it’s basically you, you say, okay, start, you have 12 hours. They do as much as they can that day, then they’ll pick it up the next day. And then typically on this one, the next day, they’ll also finish.
So it’s over two days on most of these builds, but the allotted hours you see at the front is accurate.
Scott: Do you think a lot of them are going home and taking out the bricks they have at home and sort of thinking about, oh, here’s what we’ve got to build, we started here, we’re going to engineer something in our apartment and then recreate it the next day.
Karl: I’m sure they can think about it some, you know, but the, but they are bubbled up. And they get a little bit of extra time to think about things. Sure. I never actually thought about that. But yeah, you do shoot over two days and they cannot be in the room to build in the meantime, but there’s a lot of footage, so that’s the crazy part we have about,
How many cameras, Sara, what do you think?
Sara: I’d say, well there’s yeah, maybe 10 or 11 plus the table cameras.
Karl: Yeah. And last season there was, even more, this season they didn’t use as many cameras because of COVID, but they want to keep the crew a little bit more lean from what I understand, but they have a lot, we have 11 cameras shooting the details of building Legos in the tiny micro level, as well as catching the grandiose, you know, setups of Will and the brick Masters walking around the room and doing all these check-ins and, and it’s, it is a, to me, perhaps out of all the shows I’ve done the most meticulous show because not only is it a process show, it’s also an entertainment show filled with comedy and comedy being the hardest thing to do and editing and It is a Herculean effort to put together Lego Masters.
Scott: You have Will Arnett who’s the host and obviously very, very funny guy, what are writers do on this show? Because there’s gotta be writers back there, writing his banter and, and, his dialogue, or is there more planning for the comedy?
Karl: It’s completely planned most of it. Obviously, there’s improv. There could be an entire season of just Will Arnett riffing while doing all these things that are bombastic and hilarious. And it just could go on. I wish the streamers if they ever did listen, I was pitching Anthony Dominici the incredible showrunner on the show about the idea that they should really take the streaming version of these and let them be long because there’s so much content it’s insane.
And there is a writer and he’s awesome. And I’m working with him right now in online and we with different scenes that we work on, he’ll come in and do he’ll upgrade. We’ll have, Will do ADR or reread some lines just to make the comedy pop sometimes.
But a lot of times it’s just the tricks in the editing. And that’s really what we do. We work with all the, as you know, the audio we can make most people, you know, say in a very succinct manner, what we want them to say. And then at the same time with Will, it’s all about, you know, the meticulous timing to get that perfect pause or that perfect drop.
But the writer is standing right behind the camera while they’re shooting. And his name is Bob and he basically sits behind the camera. We’re writing on a little dry erase board with ideas, and then he and Will will just riff along with Anthony about what else they can do while they’re building their Legos.
Scott: Nice. So, Sara, you had 10 or 11 cameras recording for a couple of days for a particular build as an editor. What is the first thing you do to get going on, cutting an episode? There are probably multiple editors as we see in the credits, I guess everybody is assigned something, just take us through that process.
How do you, how do you begin to approach something that gargantuan?
Sara: Well, we’re very lucky that we have incredible story producers on the show. And so they’re kind of the ones that really get into the footage first and kind of cut out the fat of all the stuff that doesn’t isn’t really going to play.
And they give us a really great string out which is basically kind of like a very, very loose, rough cut of the story that we’re going to tell for an act. So usually we’ll be assigned an act per editor at a time. And We’ll get a string out, which is that loose guideline in a way of the direction that we’re going for that act.
And then as an editor, our job is to really finesse that, to make everything land, to find really good supporting footage and scene and really great B roll and what not to bring the scene together. And like Karl was saying, with this show not only is it important to see the process of what’s happening but the comedy.
And so really bringing out that comedy, making it land finding those gems with Will, and also just how he interacts with the different contestants. I know like this season, my favorite contestants were the twins and we’ll just have the best riffing with those guys. And I really found like a lot of the times when I would be getting scenes with them, it was just, you know, the comedy makes itself.
And so I think While it does seem daunting with how much footage we have and whatnot because we’re not doing it alone because we have a good story team to help us out. You know, they’re mining for sound-ups for us. They’re you know, just really helping as a team effort to bring this together. Cause there is a lot of footage and there is a lot of times you are finding a needle in a haystack, you know, with all those cameras going on at the same time.
There may not always be a camera at the perfect moment on the perfect thing that you need. And so, you know, there is a lot of trying to find everything you need to represent what you’re trying to show in the story.
Karl: I’ll add to what Sara said, the unsung heroes of reality are the story teams, why they aren’t unionized I’ll never know. They burn the midnight oil and basically pull together all the nuggets for us so that we get in there it’s pretty much teed up. There are shows where the editors will comb through all the footage on their own, on a show of this magnitude. A lot of the major shows like this. You have to have a story team that gets through it.
Scott: I assume that they are beginning their work the second a camera shuts off.
Karl: It’s logged. I mean, so all the footage gets in. The AE team, which is also incredible. They work, you know, ungodly hours, bringing in all this footage and grouping it and then getting it out to the story people will come and usually about a week and not much, not much, much time before the editors start landing.
And by the way, sometimes you’ll get on a show. Have you ever done reality?
Scott: I have done some family musical reality is in, you know, families doing music together and cameras following them around. Yeah.
Karl: Oh, that’s cool. Yeah, we did a show called Pitch Slapped which was a musical show like that. It’s pretty, pretty intense. What’s interesting is you’ll get some, yeah. Editors are so different. In reality, some people don’t want a string, Sara, you know, we know some people are like that. And then I immediately am the guy that raised my hand. No, I really like a string.
I like a tight string. I like it, I like to have someone tee it up because there’s so much to do. And if we, if you have faith in your story department, which yeah, you do, and then you can, you can count on the fact that you’re going to be given something great. And especially when you get the veterans who just been doing this forever and they make you look, they, I like it when they make us look better than who we are.
Scott: That’s always helpful. Or is the story department, are they on set and making notes as, as it’s being shot, or do they literally have to watch everything from scratch?
Karl: They watch everything. There’s, there’s a team. What are you, what is it, Sara, on this one, do you. It’s really one story person?
Sara: Each episode had a story producer and then an associate producer.
That was the associate producer was really helping kind of mine for the really difficult things to, you know, the needle in a haystack sort of situations.
Scott: I guess often you have contestants that are possibly not the most dynamic people on camera. Now I’m sure that they cast the show for a camera presence, but what happens when you have someone who’s not all that good on camera, but yet, you know, you can’t go through a whole season and not focus on, on somebody, you know, that that’s in the show itself. Are there instances where you have to fake the personalities of some of these folks?
Karl: You fake it a lot.
Pulling back the curtain here, but in my, my opinion of reality TV is that it has to be entertaining. And so, my thought is, is in general, is you cut to make the best, most entertaining, you know, a medium that you can, the story is got to be entertaining. And if that’s making a character who in real life is a dud, amazing, we will do our best.
Now, if they give us nothing, then they fall on their sword. You can’t help them, you know, too much.
Sara: I’d say, you know, when you’ve got a character that maybe is low in personality or low in energy, there’s definitely a lot of mining to find the moments where they’re coming out of their shell the most to kind of make them likable or make them someone that you’re rooting for.
And sometimes if a character is sort of quiet and whatnot like sometimes it’s that awkwardness that plays into the humor, you know sometimes you know, someone, who’s a person, a few words that can make them an interesting character if you play it right. When you’ve got characters that are high energy really entertaining, you know, it’s, it’s very easy to lean into them to an interview and stuff because they’re the ones that are going to be entertaining naturally.
But like you said, Scott, you don’t want people to just completely fall off the map because you are never hearing from them. And so when we do really need to hear from characters and keep them alive, it’s really just finding those moments and where they’re showing that little sparkle, that little bit of personality, that’s going to make them jump off the page as much or off the screen as much as they can.
But you know, you’re working with the parameters of, you know, you’re never going to be able to make someone who has very, very low, low energy or very low little personality become the star you know, but you do what you can and, you know, music and the way that we cut things together can definitely help give them some energy and give them some life.
Scott: Are there auditions American Idol-style for people to come on Lego Masters.
Karl: This is a great casting question and our casting director, I believe is Alison Kaz. I would have to verify that she’s amazing, by the way, I’ve done a lot of things with her shows that she brings on the cast that is unforgettable.
They, I believe take submissions and through their own little submission tape they’ll submit, and then they get sifted through in casting, and basically, you’re right. It goes through skillsets. It goes through evaluations. It goes through vetting that basically checks off all the boxes that the network wants for that particular series.
This one. And then you may have noticed this season, I’m curious. Does the cast defer to you this season in the last?
Scott: It does, but I can’t pinpoint if I like one better than, than the other. I think that both of them have, have nice diversity to them and I don’t just mean like racially or gender.
It just feels like there are a lot of people picked from all kinds of different places around, around the country that no, nobody is, is like, you know, the ringer, even though each season, it seems like there’s maybe one or two teams that seem to be the ringer because they get on there, they just build so much better than everybody else.
But I think as a viewer, I’m often rooting for the ones that aren’t there, you know, “master builders.” I’m seeing the ones that they built, think it was two weeks ago or maybe it was last week. When did we record this? They built the hot air balloon and while it wasn’t super detailed.
I thought that’s, that seems like the perfect thing for the, for the hanging challenge, because it seems to fit so well with what they had to do there. And it was, so it was big and cool, even though it wasn’t the fanciest thing, it just, that one felt to me, like it was good. It was a good build, but again, I’m not, I’m not the judge.
And I guess that’s part of the fun of a show like this is, people, you root for it gets kicked off and then you’re mad and you come back and watch it again. And that’s kind of the whole thing.
Karl: Yeah, it’s that dramatic moment where they get the person you’re rooting for gets kicked off a reality show and you talk about it the next day.
And the next week they were so wrong to let them go. They should have really given another chance.
Scott: Friendly competition. One thing that was mentioned was about the comments and Sara you are making a comment on this one is how does the commentary from the contestants, how does that get done?
Because you’ll be watching the show they’re in the middle of a build and you cut to the contestants commenting on what they’ve been doing and what someone else is doing. Sometimes in there in the same clothes of the, of that episode of the times, they’re in different clothes. But we know that you’re not recording for 12 hours straight.
So my question about, Hey, did they pause the timer and let them go back and answer the questions, or how does that, get worked into the whole thing? And it’s, it’s the changing of the clothes that is, I think kind of the thing that throws me sometimes.
Sara: You know, they’ve got interview days and whatnot and interview time scheduled for when the contestants are interviewed about the episode and about what happened that day.
And so, you know, the producers have a list of questions that they knew they were going to ask them and then questions that based on what happened that day, they want to hear about for them to comment on stuff that happened. And so It’s not like, you know, there are things called ITMs “in the moment” or OTF and whatnot that are kind of “on the fly” where they’re interviewing them in the moment while they’re standing there over their build.
But generally those like set up looking interviews are shot at a separate time. With the whole list of questions, basically to just sum up commenting on everything that happened.
Scott: Will the story producers, take, those setup interviews after the fact, will they do another pass through those? Because you’ve already got a string out, I think, or possibly from, from the actual shoot on the set itself of the build, but will they take another pass through those interview sessions as well?
Sara: Yeah, they help look through those interviews and then we also have what’s called ScriptSync. Which is an amazing tool that we can use in Avid, all the interviews have been transcribed. And so we can just sort of lookup the type of stuff we’re looking for, and it really helps us define the questions and the answers that we’re looking for.
Scott: That’s a great technical point because a lot of people think scripting for Avid, you know, it’s, it’s mostly known I think a lot more for narrative feature films. When you have a script and you have that script has been shot and it’s a perfect tool to be able to work from a script. I’ve used it in the past for interviews that are transcribed.
It’s great for that. You mentioned transcription. I can imagine for something like a ScriptSync and even PhraseFind if you’ve got to search out a specific word, being able to textually, is that, is that a word textually to textually, go in and find what you’re looking for without having to search for the sound or, you know, relentlessly scrubbed through hours and hours of, of picture.
Both those tools have to have really made the process a lot more pleasant to edit something like this.
Karl: It’s it’s critical to have ScriptSync. If I were listening to this show, I’d love to hear someone comment about frankenbiting. You’ve heard of that phrase as well?
Scott: Oh yes. I’ve gone to my bullet point list and that one is that one’s coming up. Cause I do a lot of frankenbiting.Corporate work surprisingly often has a lot of frankenbiting because the powers that be the executives need a specific thing said, and sometimes they don’t say it or the people they have you interview, don’t say it.
And they’re shocked that they didn’t say this thing that they swore that they, that they would say. Well, let’s talk about it, frankenbiting, because it, yes, that is taking syllables and words and building sentences and words out of syllables. And just basically making someone say something that they didn’t say is what it kind of comes, comes down to.
Karl: Right. I did an interview one time for a show, Biggest Loser, people sat with me I can say this now. Dana, she’ll love this. I wasn’t allowed to talk about frankenbiting when I was like, because it is a, it is a craft that is, you know, it kind of like some people think it could take the moral compass off of, of what we’re doing.
And, and the truth is, is that you have so much time to tell a story and no one speaks concisely. Like we’re going to edit this. Thing because you want to fit it in a certain time. So frankenbiting, and obviously cutting down bites and cutting down things. But getting down to frankenbiting is to get to that thought out succinctly and clearly, and be able to get going and yes, to tell the story.
That’s the one thing that you sometimes want to do is basically craft a story. I mean, not, not, I’m not specifically talking about Lego Masters right now, but I remember back when you’re doing dramatic stuff like with Biggest Loser, Sara and I both go way back and worked on. And this is a, I think a funny thing as that we, one time we had this contestant on the show, And he was going to be the, no one ever said it overtly, but he became the bad guy of the series, the person you watch and you want to watch because he’s going up against everyone else.
And you know, like with Survivor, any of them, you have a character that’s sort of the villain. And so we painted him, and we through frankenbiting and through things to, to make him the guy that people want to watch, but don’t want to win. And we even gave him a nickname called “the godfather.” And then by the end of the series we went to a wrap party and he was there and I even said to him, I said, “Hey man, I get, were you upset that we know you got kind of painted as the villain?”
And he goes, “no way, man. I love it”. And I was like, that’s a contestant I like, he loved what we did. He was like, I’m like, he goes, “I’m a hero in my town now” like this don’t mess with me.
Scott: I think most people coming on reality shows are okay with a little bit of manipulation of what, of what goes on. And they, you know, they feel like you got to have a pretty big personality to be successful on a reality show.
Karl: Here’s my rule in terms of the cast for TV, you’re gonna be on a reality show and you’re a good person. You will only be portrayed as a good person. If you come on and you are not, and maybe you’re not aware of that, it only gets enhanced because when you shorten the duration to a smaller, you know, 43 minutes, suddenly all those bad actions get kind of pushed together and someone may not like that reflection of themselves.
And but it’s not due to our manipulation. Mostly. It’s not. I’ve never made somebody say something that they did not really say, but contextually we’ll enhance it and make it more concise.
Scott: I think that may have been a misconception about frankenbiting a little bit it’s because when people hear that term, they assume that, oh, the editor is making the person say something that they didn’t say.
And I know there have been some reality show controversies over the years about just that type of thing, but more likely than not, it is making the person say something in a much more concise and not just as, not necessarily concise, but just a more, and easier to understand manner, which may be more concise, but that’s, that’s sort of the gem of frankenbiting that you can do that kind of stuff.
Is that a fair assessment, Sara?
Sara: I agree. I think on the whole frankenbiting is a great tool to make something succinct, make sense, get it out in a short, in a quick period of time, you know, because if you listen to an interview in its raw form, you would fall asleep and somebody might be expressing the, what you want them to say.
But the way that they’re saying it is long-winded is not, is not clear. And so we’re able to, through the magic of editing, make a sentence that was a run-on sentence that doesn’t make sense, become a concise sentence, that is exactly what you wanted them to say. And it’s not that we’re putting words in their mouth.
It’s that we’re in a way, helping them out and making them say what they wanted to say, the way they had intended to say it. And sometimes it’s putting two thoughts together of, you know, they were talking about a certain thing in one part of the interview and then brought it back around at a later part of the interview.
And so we’re kind of taking those thoughts and putting them together into one sentence that gets our point across.
Scott: And it often makes them seem a whole lot smarter, which is, you know, again, what editing does we help everybody along in whatever it is that they are doing on, on the camera.
Sara: Exactly. And in this show, I want to point out, you know, there was some talk, you know, earlier about villains and all that stuff. Like one of the cool things about Lego Masters is, you know, there are no villains like it’s a positive show. You’re, you know, you’re rooting for everybody. It’s a family show. And so we’re definitely never trying to make anybody look like anything other than, you know, somebody who’s talented and funny and somebody that we want to root for. So that’s something I love about this show.
Karl: That is so true. I mean, cause that’s exactly right. The show I was referring to needed melodrama and this show is all about. It is escapism. You’re rooting for everybody subconsciously. You want to see everybody when you may have your favorites, but it’s not like you’re rooting against anyone.
Scott: Well, another question I was going to ask about I think, about a lot of competition shows where you do kind of have, you know, a bad guy or some, or there are people you don’t like as much as other people and not true with Lego Masters.
I think something like American Ninja Warrior, that Karl you’ve worked on. It’s the same way that you want everybody to succeed and do well but you know, that somebody has to, has to ultimately have to win and somebody has to lose, but I’ve wondered sometimes with Lego Masters, they’re all building in the same room.
How much sort of interaction did the teams have with each other? Cause there are times when they kind of talk to each other a little bit across the table, It feels like they’re kind of really in their own compartments. But I think about if I was doing this, it would be hard for me to not look over and want to talk to the other people and mosey over and check in with them or, you know, or just sort of be, you’ll be more friendly with them, but I guess that’s.
You only have so much time to build, so maybe they don’t do that.
Karl: It’s kind of a mix I think, I mean, in the, what I understand, because you don’t see this in the footage is that they bond intensely. And you don’t see this in the exits quite often, but when they, when somebody gets eliminated, they have these grandiose hugs and tears and people are bonding. So they are definitely communicating in between, you know, either the shoot days and as well as when they’re on set, but you’re right due to the time constraints. They aren’t being able to intermingle much.
They do have fun though. I mean, Will makes them all talk to each other.
Scott: I think it comes across at the end when someone gets eliminated, it does come across that they are, that they know each other well, or they have definitely bonded over over the experience. So I think that I think you do that successfully at the end, they the little mini-figs down.
Sara: Yeah. I think all the contestants on this show view themselves as a family and they view everything as just healthy competition, but they’re all very supportive of each other, which is great. You know, Will does play up some of the competition for humor, you know, between some of the characters that have, he’s built these, you know, rivalries for humor throughout the, throughout the season and whatnot.
But in general, they’re all really good friends and, you know, there are tears when people are going home and that’s all very genuine.
Karl: The one thing I really love about the show, I think that the fact that the contestants are having so much fun on-screen and that the show is “meta”.
I mean, have you, we haven’t talked about that, where we make fun of ourselves, we poke fun of the format constantly. So it doesn’t take itself too seriously. And that I think is what bonds everybody, because we’re ultimately, they really are there having fun. I mean, that’s no joke. It’s not like they’re viciously trying to beat the other person building Legos, but it is completely a.
I don’t know, just a blast being there and having fun, making fun of reality at say at the same time, being on a reality show.
Scott: I’ve never seen, anybody in and around Legos in general. And I think about, you know, in and out of Lego stores, it is not smiling and enjoying themselves. So I think that definitely comes across in the show.
Scott: Let’s change course for a minute and talk tech cause people love tech talk. I’m wondering about things like Are you guys putting in temp music? Are you putting in in final music? Does this, does it go to a composer who does stuff in there?
How, how does the music, the music doesn’t play a huge part in the show, but it’s, it’s obviously an important part. How, how does the music work with the show?
Sara: We have a library of music a mixture of music that was composed specifically for Lego Masters, as well as a couple of other libraries that we use as well.
And I kind of feel like there’s a vibe to Lego. Like there’s some of that sort of like Well, I remember when I first started working on it last season, I was like, oh, this kind of has like an eighties Tron meets, like, you know, it kind of has that like cool sort of vibe, but yeah, we have a pretty extensive music library that we use and music is definitely important because especially when it comes to humor, It’s like just crafting moments with music and sound effects is very important to make sure that the humor lands because the show is funny in and of itself.
Will’s funny. The situations are funny. You know, his interactions with the contestants are funny, but what really drives it home is that music and how you make it land. And we definitely spend a lot of time crafting, you know, using that library music and that music that was composed for the show to really craft those moments to make sure that we basically take advantage of every moment of humor and just like really hit it home. Cause we really want you to be laughing as much as possible.
Scott: Or when you’re, when you’re going through editing the show, do you have a, you know, do you have a bin of, of like reaction shots every time I see something I like I’m just going to sub clip that and possibly come back to that later. How do you sort of make sure you have those little tools you need in, in the editorial as you go along to make those moments land, or is it, do you have assistants going through looking for specific things or can you call up a story editor and say, “Hey, I need this moment, I need this thing to help me, you know, make this moment land.” Do you have all those options at your disposal?
Karl: Well, I mean, in terms of, I just Scott I really want to go back on music real quick and I’m sorry, I don’t know how many reality shows you you’ve talked to
Scott: This is the first.
Karl: Oh, I see. Okay, cool. Well, one of the interesting things about reality is that we do all our own sound effects. We do all our own sound design front to back and the music. We score everything, and it’s usually the music that will always end up on air. Sometimes in very rare cases, do we go to a composer, post a cut, but it does happen.
Maybe once every season you’ll go outward and get a composer to do something special. And earlier you’re saying does music play a big part? Actually, I think music, in reality, is critical. Unlike scripted television, where there’s not a lot of music and, and is very quiet unless it’s action or whatever, but it’s or drama. But in this case, there’s always a bed going on pretty much front to back on reality TV.
And that’s when this is a technique I think is really important for comedy. For years you used to have a laugh track in scripted shows where it was filmed in front of a studio audience, and the laugh track would help people cue in that, this is funny. But in reality, you don’t have that. So what we do and you’ll see it like with any of them, it’s rare to get comedy reality, but like, say.
Duck Dynasty, or whatnot, and shows like that we dropped the music and you know that, so it’s like you hear the music drop and that’s in meaning that just disappears to accentuate something somebody said, and then, or you’ll use light strings that pluck just kind of let you know that mood has changed to a lighter thing.
And all of this has to cue in the audience that this is funny and it is light and it’s ridiculous. And it’s a technique that we all use. A reverse cymbal stop or the wind-down where the music goes, you using the, you know, the audio suite tool and that those are all techniques that we use in Lego Masters and across the board for all these kinds of reality shows that have comedy and especially,
Scott: Yea, there are, shows you’ll watch sometimes. And it feels like you’ve watched it for five minutes and there’s been like 25 different cuts of music in that five minutes, it’s sometimes it’s almost like, could they fit any more music into this in-between commercial breaks and the answer sometimes it’s probably yes. If you really tried, you could.
Karl: Yeah. I remember one time, you know, everyone competes a little at work sometimes and Kevin Finn, a mutual friend of ours, Sara Scotti, and I said he was going to go do the tease for us. And he went and cut it. He’s a supervising producer now. And he. Uh, Went off and was going to edit his himself and he comes back and he gives me a tease that had 11 different songs in a 20 second period.
And he was like, what’s wrong with it, Karl?
Scott: That right there is on a, is an achievement for sure. Continuing the, on the tech side of things. What about some visual effects stuff? Because you have the glowing brick when the gold brick comes out, you had on the Brickter Scale when he would dial up that thing. I’m assuming that all of those are done, right in, right in the Avid.
Is each editor kind of find something they want to sort of affect in some way? Or do you have an effects person that says, “Hey, we need the glow here.” We need something here. How does, how does that work? And assuming that’s all in Avid as well.
Karl: Something’s funny bringing up the Brickter Scale, Sara and I both cut that. Funny enough.
Scott: There you go.
Karl: She and I did the challenge on that one. And then Sara take it away, but the glows are definitely done in the Avid for sure.
Sara: Yeah. The glows are done in the Avid, like on the brick, on the golden brick. And usually what will happen is someone who’s on the first episode, we’ll kind of create that little effect.
And then we have a toolkit where we put sort of standardize effects that we want to make sure consistent across the board. So then that way everybody can take that and obviously you have to manipulate it to, you know, key in with how your brick is moving across the screen on your episode.
But at least it keeps things consistent. Which is a nice way for us to share things between each other.
Scott: There are also things like when people talk about their builds, you’ve got the little animated graph paper things you have the times when often like gigantic you know, words will pop on the screen to punctuate some comedy.
And then when the builds are done, they take certain builds and they like to animate almost Lego movie style, little scenes out of those. Those things obviously have to go out to a visual effects house. What’s the determination for who gets one of those scenes or when you, when you do, you know, a bit some gigantic comedy words or things like that, is that all, does the writer come into play there or is it all just the editor says, “Hey, I’d love this here.”
Karl: In terms of the words I will tell you that a lot of the comedy will come from all different directions. I mean, but the writer doesn’t really get involved in that when it comes to gags like that, that we do in the Avid, we’ll come up with a method that, you know, a story producer may come up with the idea, the editor will come up with the idea, for example, drama at the very beginning of episode one, when he goes, “we need some drama” and it goes Lego drama.
Josh Young, he’s a supe editor on the show as well. And he, he, would put in those graphics there. I built like the Lego drama thing, and we just did that in Avid You know, just kind of tossing things back and forth, you know, as to what we could do here between editors.
And so we would come up with those graphic ideas. Now, what happens next? So we’ll mock it up and title tool, and then almost every time we give that to the producers, the producers give it to the graphics house, they farm it out, they bring it back and then we plop it in polished.
Just like animation Scott. We do the same thing where we’ll lay in the music, lay in the sound effects. Sometimes it’s our own voices. My voice is in the show quite a bit this season.
We do our own voices sometimes and make our own sound effects and we’ll pop them into the, like in the Derby, Sara put together some sound design in that, which is amazing. And then, and then on top of that, my son and I recorded a bunch of Legos we have here smashing against the ground that I looped into the show as well.
Cause we wanted that perfect sound and you just get kind of crazy with it.
Scott: You mentioned your son. I think that’s kind of a good way to start wrapping it up on this thought because one thing I’ve loved watching with my boys and it is a, and we kind of touched on this earlier, but in the world of sometimes questionable family entertainment. I mean, even in prime time, you know, especially considering cable and what you can call up on, on streaming with just a click of a button it’s refreshing to see something that is you know, it’s wholesome and it’s fun.
I mean, I know a lot of reality is cheap to produce, but this is a pretty big stage. I mean, the Legos aren’t cheap.
There’s gotta be, there’s gotta be some bucks spent on this show as opposed to like a cooking show.
Karl: It’s expensive. Yeah. Now you put it though it’s probably the most expensive part. You know, how much money have I invested in Legos with my kids? My God. Oh, I said “Legos” I’m so sorry. I meant to say Lego.
Scott: Oh is it technically it’s LEGO and not LEGOS I did not know that.
Yeah. I discovered a service it’s called, I think it’s called net bricks.biz. If I remember the name correctly. Basically Netflix for Legos. And we subscribed over the summer and you sign up for your plan. You go in, you put Lego kits in your basket and they ship them to you. You build them and then you ship them back and they’ll ship you another one.
Karl: No, that’s a brilliant idea.
Scott: I think about when we moved two years ago to a new house and we had this huge box of Legos. It no longer gets used because it’s such a chore to dig through, to find the pieces to rebuild what they originally were. They’ve just ended up in a box and I thought, let’s try this.
And the boys love it. They’ll build them. They’ll play with them and they’ll tear them down and you ship them back and they’ll ship you another one. It’s one of those. Like, “I should’ve thought of that.”
Karl: Someone, whoever makes a machine to sort Legos after being built is gonna make a jillion dollars. We have two buckets of these things, you know, like giant tubs of these things.
Scott: Let me throw this at you. All right. Here’s my pitch for a Lego Masters challenge. They should have the “sorting challenge” for the teams where they each get just a giant bucket of unsorted Legos. Talk about being a challenge to make that entertaining, but that’s like the eternal struggle for all people that use Legos is the sorting factor once they get all jumbled up. So that if there’s a season three, which I really hope there is, I expect Karl you to pitch that to them as one of the challenges.
Karl: You got it. I got it. It’s on the top of the list.
You know I was going to go back before we wrap up, but it is just something as kind of important as you just pointed out is that it’s such a family show.
And Sara and I, we’ve all worked on so many different types of shows. Comedy is rare. Family is super rare. I mean, you only have like a handful of these shows that are like, you know, American Idol or AGT, or those kinds of shows are definitely family-oriented, but then the vast majority of reality is killers. You know, it’s unsolved murders.
Or it’s, it’s some sort of intervention, you know, or cops.,
Scott: Dating, dating, dating, dating, dating.
Karl: Tons of dating. Right. And dating can be funny sometimes. And I actually don’t mind cutting those, I’ll cut anything just in case anyone’s, you know, when they listen to this, I will cut anything.
I’m not a fan of serial killer shows, but it’s so nice to work on something that you said to, to be able to show your family and to be done at the end of the day. And at the beginning of COVID, it was such a great time to be able to like it wasn’t a great time, it was a dark time, and it was great to have this show be like this warm hug, as I was saying before that to come upstairs and be able to watch with the family it’s a real pleasure to work on such a great show and to have that, that, that opportunity to do these things, instead of people flipping tables, yelling at each other or whatever, this show actually is something that you’re proud about and you tell your friends about, and you’re you, you want everyone to know you’re on.
Scott: Yeah. Sara where does this show fit into the stuff that you’ve worked on in the past? Is it one of your favorites, I mean, of course, it’s one of your faves, that’s your current show? How does it fit into the other stuff that you’ve done? Cause it’s like, I’ve talked about it’s different than everything else that’s kind of come before it.
Sara: I’ve done a lot of competition shows and you know, the competition shows will range anything from, you know, people who are hardcore competitive that are making enemies with each other, and you’re playing up the drama between people. All the way to this range where it’s, you know, just positivity family-friendly, but also appeals to people who don’t have kids too.
You know? I think this has definitely been one of my favorite shows because I do love it, not only the fact that it’s got a positive vibe. It’s super funny. I love shows where the people are incredibly talented and creating things that I definitely couldn’t create. It inspires me. Like I went out and bought myself some Lego while working on this.
Cause I was just kinda like, I want to build something. And so I, I really liked that, you know, I work on another show that has that same kind of vibe, which is Making It. Which is another, like creating something with a positive family-friendly vibe, and these types of shows that are really positive I kind of feel like the industry is a little bit going in that direction.
Cause I think people got burnt out probably on a lot of that negativity type of vibe. That a lot of reality shows we’re having where it’s just cutthroat. And so I think, you know, something that people can watch with their kids or enjoy watching, even if they don’t have kids is definitely something that people are enjoying.
And I hope that more shows like this come along because you know, Lego is definitely one of the few that are like, At this point.
Scott: For sure. I just went to Disney World for the first time, a few weeks ago. And I think about it is the kind of thing where it’s it’s for children. It’s for adults. It really is something that’s kind of is, is for everybody.
And there’s not a lot of things like that, like that in the world anymore. So I think that’s it’s nice to see some of that on prime time television. Karl, Sara, thanks for sitting down for this chat about Lego Masters. It’s entertaining everybody. I know who’s watched it.
I know quite a few people that do watch it. Love it. So you’re doing, you’re doing fine work there and it’s entertaining the masses and I wish you much luck as the season ends and hopefully, a season three comes along.
Karl: Awesome, dude.
Sara: Thank You. Thanks for having us.
Karl: Who do you want to win?
Scott: Oh, man. Well, I think the Derby one is on the uh, on the DVR right now.
I like that. Can’t remember the names, the married couple. I got a little bit of a soft spot in there.
Karl: Maria and Philip.
Scott: Yeah. Being married myself, what a fun thing to be able to do with your spouse because you don’t usually get to do things like that with your spouse. And so I kind of have a soft spot for them, but the sushi chefs who built the shark.
Karl: Zack and Wayne.
Scott: And the squid, you, you just look at that and you think to yourself, oh my gosh.
But they didn’t win that challenge. I haven’t picked a favorite just yet.
Karl: That’s good. That’s good. Keep it guessing.
Sara: You’ll have to wait and see. There are so many talented people this season, so it’s like, you know, No matter who wins, it’s going to be somebody amazing.
Scott: Totally. And I, I, one thing I look forward to every week actually is when the show is ending and that people put their mini-figs and then they show next week, like what the challenge is going to be.
Cause I’m always trying to think about like, “what would a cool challenge be” other than my awesome sorting challenge. I haven’t come up with anything. I’m a car guy. I was like, oh, they should do a thing where they build awesome cars and the Derby one is coming up. I’m looking forward to that one.
Karl: You’ll dig It’s good.
Scott: Thank you for joining us. We’ll talk to hopefully talk again soon.
Karl: Appreciate it, Scott. Thanks so much for having us.
Sara: Thank you.