Today, we discuss animation editing with Kevin Nolting, ACE, and his work as editor on PIXAR’s Soul with director, Pete Docter.
Kevin’s last two animated features won ACE Eddies – for editing Inside Out and Up.
He also worked as an additional or second editor on Toy Story 4, Monsters University, Wall-E, Cars, and Finding Nemo. His live-action narrative credits include assistant or associate editor work on Shanghai Noon, The Insider, Indecent Proposal, and The Naked Gun 2 and a half.
HULLFISH: Did you come from more of a live-action narrative background?
NOLTING: Yeah. Strictly live action.
HULLFISH: What was that transition like?
NOLTING: It was completely different. Cutting storyboards is strangely difficult and requires a lot of patience and can be very tedious.
Over the years at Pixar, we’ll bring good editors from live-action to help us and some people take to it immediately and others just don’t take to it. I took to it pretty quickly. It just inherently came to me.
HULLFISH: There’s so much freedom. I wonder if that’s what trips some people up? If you want a close-up, somebody goes off and draws you a close-up. You’re literally only limited by your imagination.
NOLTING: That’s definitely a thing because limitations are often good. Working with Pete Docter, I’ve been thinking about exploration versus execution. Over the three movies I’ve done with Pete — with Up we had a pretty solid script when we started. It changed a lot, but the structure of it was pretty solid. And then Inside Out was a little more loose and Soul was just completely a journey in exploration.
The execution part of it — from an editing point of view — is actually very short because we were constantly doing big changes to the movie.
HULLFISH: And that’s the exploration you’re talking about.
NOLTING: Yeah and with Pete, it’s really fun because you’re not just exploring making a movie you’re exploring themes. We spend a lot of time just reading and talking to people about the thing we’re making the movie about. So it becomes almost like a college course or something where you just get to explore all these different ideas and then making the movie almost becomes a way of writing your final paper. You condense all these ideas in dramatic form.
HULLFISH: I think of animation editing similarly to workshopping of a play. It’s kind of like that. You have an idea — a concept — you bring the actors in and you say, What should the scene be? And then they play it and you say, “That line wasn’t quite working.”.
NOLTING: That’s definitely true with the way we work with Pete.
We have writers, and I don’t want to discount what they do.
NOLTING: They’re good writers and they do a great job, but the writing process — I think he just sees it as a leaping-off point.
As you said, we workshop with story a lot and the writers are always there when we’re working with story artists but it’s definitely a workshop feel. In fact, Ronnie del Carmen is one of the most amazing story artists I’ve worked with. He was the story lead on Up and the co-director on Inside Out.
He uses that word “workshop.” That’s his favorite verb.
HULLFISH: For those who might not be familiar with animation editing, that phrase “story artists” might need some explanation. These are the guys that actually draw the boards but they’re more than just artists, right? They’re really trying to come up with concepts and gags and all that kind of stuff.
Tell me a little bit about your relationship to the story artists.
NOLTING: I work extremely closely with them. We usually make the movie for two, almost three years before we go into production. We just make the movie with the story artists. So in a sense, they’re co-writers. Some of them are really good visual artists — like Ronnie — he speaks visually and he expresses himself, but a lot of the story artists are good draftsmen and they’re OK artists, but they’re really into story theory. They’re somewhere between a story artist and a writer and they’re more verbal type people.
So usually the story team will have a good mix of those different kinds of people. Some people are just inherently great with the camera and great visually and then others are giving us the more verbal side of the storytelling process.
HULLFISH: It’s so interesting that you would talk about the camera. So a listener who’s not familiar with animation editing might think that somebody who’s drawing storyboards — what do they have to do with a camera? But when they draw a board they are deciding where the camera is going to be placed and what the “lens” is, to see the characters or see the action, correct? That’s what you’re talking about.
NOLTING: Yeah. They’re basically building shots and we approach it like shots. It’s just not animated 24 frames a second. It’s more like maybe every 12 frames — depending on the kind of shot it is. And we use a lot of their staging when we get into camera and layout (two later stages of animation where the 2D shots are turned into 3D).
We’ll use their staging as a basis and then once we’re in the actual set with a “real camera” we can explore a lot more and discover what we were missing because we actually have a “set” out to work with. But they’re the early stage of the camera process.
HULLFISH: I worked for a couple of years for a Big Idea — VeggieTales — while they were making their two animated feature films and their TV shows, so I’ve been a part of that same process.
Those story artists are the heart and soul of the movie.
Talk to me a little bit about music for this film. It’s so deeply embedded and interwoven into the film. When did things transition from temp score to score and licensed music?
NOLTING: We started off with the Arrival soundtrack by Johan Johansson. It just fit this movie perfectly, especially the early scenes — the pre-life world. It just fit beautifully. So that was sort of our standard there.
And then the other score we used was Captain Fantastic. That’s a sort of ethereal, gritty sound also mixed in there. That was all for the non-Earth world. Then we were always going to use jazz for the Earth stuff because he was a jazz musician.
The music process started much earlier on this film than usual because once Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross decided to do the film — they work very early with David Fincher.
They’ll send him a piece of the music befoer they begin shooting and he’ll use that music as an influence on the shooting I think. So they were used to that. For us they came in fairly early — about halfway through the process and I think they sent us nine five-seven minute tracks that were just explorations. Multi-tracks with all of these beautiful sounds and melodies and we just started playing around with those in the cut.
Then eventually they would come to screenings and we’d send them copies and then it just started. It was just a much longer process than usual. And the same with Jon Batiste (jazz musician) we did a couple of sessions fairly early on in a studio and he brought in some session players and did a lot of the Jazz cues.
A cue for the audition at the beginning of the movie when he goes into his zone — did like seven or eight takes of that and then various jazz cues over the years. I think we did three or four sessions with him.
HULLFISH: When you switched between the temp and the final score or the music that was licensed. Did that require some re-editing or re-timing of edits?
Trent and Atticus work pretty loosely. In the past, they said they rarely scored specifically to picture. They would give the show pieces of music that they thought worked and the music editor would make it work.
As time went on on this show they became more and more specific but they were generally being specific to our picture. The scene toward the end — when Joe plays his life — we call it “Epiphany” — that one required some re-cutting. We also changed it conceptually at a certain point, but it was really just frames.
It sounds like Trent and Atticus are not into what you might call “mickey-mousing” a score — where you can really feel where the cues hit, synced very solidly to motions or moments or cuts or beats in the picture.
NOLTING: Well, they did get very specific a few times. Sometimes we’d send them scenes where we’d cut in their music underneath and they’d respond that the timing of the cue was wrong… they wanted certain moments to sync.
HULLFISH: Very interesting.
Some of the animation is really conceptual. Were those concept pieces storyboarded in a typical form or was it harder because of the conceptual nature?
NOLTING: Mainly, those lines drawing counselors — we call them “The Jerrys” — in storyboards we couldn’t even imagine what they were going to look like. Somebody in the art department did these wire sculptures and then put a light on the side and moved the light around and showed how you could make these characters that are essentially defined by light and line. And it was a huge technical challenge just to rig that for animation.
Of course, all of those scenes were the last things to go into animation because that was always the part of the story that was most “up in the air” so they didn’t have a lot of time to work with it and they ended up having a core group of four or five animators who just mastered those characters.
As they were animating the scenes they essentially learned how to define how they could move and what they would do.
HULLFISH: Those “Jerrys” seemed very Picasso-like to me.
NOLTING: It’s sort of a Picasso Miro weird combination of abstraction.
HULLFISH: As I watched the film, one of the things that I thought about was the balance of that real conceptual out-of-body stuff and then the stuff that’s on the earth. Was that a big debate between you and Peter and the other people on the team to decide how much happens on Earth and how much happens in this other place?
NOLTING: The first version of the movie — they never went to Earth. We did that actually for a couple versions and we got around it by having this pavilion in the pre-Earth part where you could play back your life, and a lot of the movie was 22 taking Joe there to show him his life and then him going back to look at different parts of his life.
The story evolved and they never went to Earth. After about a year, I think, of doing that, we sort of hit a wall with the movie and Mike Jones — he was writing alone at that time before Kemp Powers came on — he went off and did this version of the movie that introduced this going back to Earth body swap idea and that sort of launched us in that direction.
HULLFISH: That’s really interesting.
NOLTING: But the initial goal was to NOT go to Earth. To keep it up in that world. But it turned out to be a really difficult thing.
HULLFISH: I would think that a change that big would be really difficult.
NOLTING: I don’t know. I’ve gotten used to it with Pete over the years. I know that not everybody works that way at Pixar but we’ve sort of evolved this way of working that I personally love, where the first year on the movie we don’t take things too seriously. We don’t dig into details a lot. It’s almost very broad strokes of a movie. It’s a very impressionistic way to approach it.
You put these scenes up — and there were specific scenes where we’d get into the nitty-gritty and try to really hit the emotion — but it was more about just finding the overall movement of the movie and the tone and then slowly over the years we hone in on the details.
You have to really have a lot of confidence but a lot of faith that people aren’t going to lose faith in you in a sense because we have this process at Pixar where every four months we put the movie up in the big theater and we invite different departments from the studio — who haven’t seen the movie before — to see the movie.
Then after we run the movie, we go into a room and we talk about the movie with people like Andrew Stanton and Brad Bird — people who are pretty harsh critics at that point. So it took us a long time to sort of have the faith to throw a movie up there that we knew was broken, that we hadn’t polished at all. We were presenting ideas essentially and asking for help in how to mold this into a more dramatic structure.
But we’ve been doing that now for a few years and it’s turned out to be a really great way to work.
HULLFISH: Is that a difficult thing on your ego? Or do you just say, “I know that this is the process and this is what they’re expecting out of me.”.
NOLTING: That was actually the biggest obstacle to working this way, for me. You’re presenting this thing to your peers — to people in the company who are waiting for this movie to come out in four years and everybody’s really anxious — especially with a Pete movie to see how they’re going to evolve.
It’s just brutal knowing that — I would never show this to anybody. It took me a long time just to do it with Pete where I’d be working on a scene — and in animation, you have the luxury of, if I decide halfway through the scene it’s not working, how much time do you want to put into it? Because I know we can rewrite it and I know we’re going to rewrite it.
So early on I learned to just call Pete in at a certain point if I didn’t think a scene was working and just say, “Take a look at this. Should we pursue this or not?” So we saved a lot of time that way because he could see right away that we needed to go in and re-write it. So it sort of evolved to the point where we show more and more people the movie in that state — where we’re clearly going to go back in and rework it.
It’s a good obligation to do a reality check every four months and see where you are because we do have a production schedule we have to stick to. So it’s good to get the movie out there every four months and take a reading on what’s not working.
HULLFISH: Was that decision about deciding you were going to go to Earth kind of a place where you felt like, “OK, we broke the story and now things are headed in the right direction?”.
NOLTING: Yeah. For me, it’s a mixed blessing and still is. In fact, I just watched today the first version of the movie and there’s so much in there that I love that we had to let go of when we decided to do that.
But also I could see the movie wasn’t working in that state. So in order to meet the schedule and to actually have a movie that makes sense, it was definitely the best thing to do.
HULLFISH: It’s so interesting that there are great parts of a movie that have to get dumped because there’s no way to get that movie to be part of the next version of the movie. Can you talk a little bit about how those decisions get made and how you have to kill your babies, right?
NOLTING: Yeah. That’s really what it is. That’s the hardest thing for all of us, I think.
In animation, I think it’s a little harder because you’re really writing the movie as you’re making the movie. So you’re seeing a lot more of that writing process than you normally would in a live-action scenario. But the longer you do it, it just gets easier to just say, “Yeah. We’ve done this before and we survived and we actually made the movie better. I’m not going to hold on to this.”
When I was running it today, there were all these lines that we had thrown out that I absolutely love, but I wouldn’t have remembered had I not run the movie again.
HULLFISH: Speaking of those lines, I saw that Tina Fey (who plays 22) and some others did some additional dialogue writing. Do you remember how some of that was added or what the process was to bring those people in?
NOLTING: We started doing this on Inside Out. On Inside Out we had a really hard time finding the character Joy and making her appealing because if you analyze it, she is a pretty unappealing character in what she’s trying to do. And it wasn’t till Amy Poehler came and that we really started to find the character. And Amy Poehler, being a writer, went off with Pete to New York and did a few writing sessions and it really made the character come to life and made an appealing character.
So when Tina Fey came on to this show, it became a no-brainer to do that. I think she’s very comfortable writing and so that was sort of a natural evolution because Pete had done it with Amy Poehler before and Amy and Tina are friends and Bill Hader has been involved since Inside Out. He came on the Inside Out and did a week of writing with us. He didn’t get credit, but I believe he was on Soul, too.
HULLFISH: There were some deeply funny, laugh-out-loud moments, and also some very profound moments in this movie. Animation editing is so much more of a PROCESS than traditional feature films. Can you talk about the moments of revelation or discovery that happened throughout that process and trying to balance the tone of comedy and the more deep moments?
NOLTING: That’s the ongoing struggle for me at Pixar — and especially with Pete. I wouldn’t call it a struggle — that’s just the ongoing conversation.
You could take Pete’s ideas and go completely serious and adult. And that’s actually our instinct at first. We’re constantly having to take the note that it’s not entertaining enough, it’s not funny enough, and trying to build that into the story. That’s one way to approach it and that’s the way Pete likes to approach it, I think, is to get the heart of the story — sort of the adult story — solid, and then start making it appealing to a broader audience and to kids and try to make it funny. That’s just sort of the way he’s been working the last few years.
Working on his movies — so collaborative, and the personalities involved. If you analyze the personalities involved you will find a funny person, a serious person, and that’s how Pixar sort of evolved. If you go back to the original movies — Toy Story, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich and John Lasseter — and you can see where that was just sort of a perfect combination of their approach to moviemaking, their approach toward movies, what they like in movies, and that’s all there.
I think Pete sort of continued that tradition. He’s very collaborative. We sit in a story room and you can see that there is a person that is going to bring the comedy, there’s a person who’s going to bring the heart, and that’s the process basically.
Then over the years, we just try to find the right balance of all of that, so the movie plays for everybody. It’s really a hard thing to make something play for an eight-year-old and for a 60-year-old.
HULLFISH: How much do you feel like you’re kind of in the middle of that as the editor trying to offer suggestions especially about balance. I think editors have a unique place in choosing the balance of action versus quieter moments and deep moments versus funny moments. Talk to me about your role in that.
NOLTING: Well I mean all editors have deep influence on all of that and in animation that’s sort of magnified in a sense because it’s such a long process. And again I’ve just learned to have patience and present the ideas at the right time. And there’s an art to that.
The nice thing we have — especially in animation — that all editors can do: I sit in a room full of story people and writers and everybody’s pitching ideas and talking and sort of arguing for their idea, but editors can quietly go back to our room and cut a version of a scene that presents our ideas. We have the advantage of actually projecting it and letting the director see it in the environment he’s going to see the movie as a movie as opposed to a discussion or script page.
So I just try to use that not just to MY advantage but to the MOVIE’S advantage. I work very closely with the head of story. if we’re talking and we agree a scene isn’t working or we think we can approach a part of the movie a different way, we can sit down and — I used to do this with Ronnie del Carmen all the time — and just reconceive a scene quickly.
He could sketch it out and I could cut it quickly. Throw up music in there and we could show it to Pete and say, “What do you think? Does this work better?”
HULLFISH: I want to pick up on something that you mentioned briefly which is that it depends on not only having an idea but knowing when to share it.
I think we’re in this unique position of being psychologists and therapists and political scientists. Tell me a little bit about what you mean by sharing an idea at the right time.
NOLTING: As I said, we show the movie to a different group of people — 200 people — and when they introduce the movie, the producer stands up and says, We’d love your feedback. Here’s my email address. We even have a preview form online called “Note-xar” where you can give notes on the movie and the director just gets bombarded with ideas.
Pixar is full of very smart people — smart, creative people. It’s not like they’re bad ideas, but we’re on a schedule and we have to make this movie for a certain amount of money and in a certain amount of time, just like anyone else, and you’ve got two hundred smart people sending in their thoughts, opinions, ideas.
I can’t even imagine how overwhelming that is. And a young director can easily get confused. So as an editor — and as somebody who has Pete’s ear — I’ve learned patience, and if I feel strongly about something I just have a sense — and I wait until we’re in the cutting room together. I might give an alt version and just quietly show it to him at the right time.
If you try to give a director your opinion and ideas when he’s in the middle of reading 200 other ideas, you’re just contributing to the noise.
HULLFISH: Is that something that you also feel was a skill that you used when you were doing live-action? You have to know when to pitch an idea or when to voice an objection?
NOLTING: Oh, I think so. Directors are people. They have moods. they have bad days, good days. They have fights with their wives and they come to work and they’re not hearing anything.
So in any sort of collaborative, creative process, I think it’s about learning how to “read the room” and know when to say things.
HULLFISH: “Learn how to read the room.” That’s some good editing advice right there.
There’s an amazing montage that happens — I called it “The Purpose montage” — when he realizes the purpose and he puts these talismans above the keyboard to almost read them as music. Talk to me about that montage — building it and designing it.
NOLTING: So that actually was in the first version of the movie. Trevor Jimenez — one of the story leads, just an amazing artist in the vein of Ronnie del Carmen — draws really evocative, soulful drawings, so he would be given these kinds of scenes.
Or he would come up with them actually a lot of times. Originally it was Joe playing his life after he had had this epiphany. In the first couple of versions, logically, if you think about it — the scene has score that is playing through there and the piano is overlaid, it’s playing a long score. And we have a separate piano track so that we could mix from piano into the score. Originally it was conceived that he was playing jazz music because if he’s going to replay his life, he should improvise that.
And we tried doing that with a Herbie Hancock cue and trying to manipulate the music so that he’s looking at these things and then the music he would play coincided with the memory.
So there was a scene where the sewing machine was running and I tried to find a piece of music where it sounded more rhythmic, like a sewing machine. The whole construct of the scene, emotionally, wasn’t right because essentially to get into that place, to play that way, he had already realized what his mistake was and he had this epiphany and then it just became almost like this mechanical thing where he sat down to play it. But he wasn’t learning anything as he played.
So once we got past that and decided not to try to manipulate the jazz to do that and started using score — we used this Captain Fantastic piece of score — one of the music editors at Pixar, Andrew Vernon who is good on the piano, so we had him do a piano version of it so we could start with him playing the piano and then sort of bleed in the score.
And then it started to come together emotionally when we realized that if a montage is just sort of repeating information that’s when montages are boring frankly, so we re-conceived it so that he was having the revelation as he played.
At the beginning of the scene, It’s weird. He’s remembering things through his head that 22 had done in his body and as he plays, it drifts into his own memories. And then in the acting, you see him sort of having this epiphany so that at the end of the cue and the montage, he knows what to do.
So once we started approaching it that way it really came together and started feeling emotional as opposed to an exercise.
HULLFISH: I love that answer. That’s really interesting. Wow. What have you learned from the film that you could tell me?
NOLTING: Just the way we work with Pete, I’m such a fan of working loose and then getting more detailed — just to find the tone and find the big picture.
I’ve worked with directors at Pixar who love to dig into the gags. You’d be working on a scene — and as I’m working on the scene, I’m thinking, “Does this even belong in the movie?” And the director is wanting to work till midnight to fine-tune these gags. We made them funny, but then we’d run the movie and you’d realize that the scene is not even going to be in the movie. Maybe we can use the gag somewhere.
So, that’s just sort of the lesson I learned over the years with Pete is having the confidence to air your dirty laundry in a sense and just show your stuff ugly. You know it’s going to turn out well eventually if you work hard enough.
HULLFISH: That’s a great lesson, but think through this with me a little bit: it probably depends on the director.
NOLTING: Very much. Oh yeah. Oh definitely. And so the flip side of that is learning how to work with a specific director. I’ve learned that with Pete, and so if I have to go back to the other way of working, I’m gonna have to learn their way. Because ultimately, it’s the director’s movie and they need to work the way they need to work and how to work that way and still get to where you think you need to get with the movie would be a challenge for me right now because I’ve been doing it this way for so long.
HULLFISH: Do you think you’ll go back to live action at any point? Are you an animation editor at this point?
NOLTING: There is something so appealing about live-action. Animation editing is a long, long slog — well, I won’t call it a “slog” —
About ten years ago a group of us at Pixar did four or five 48 hour film festivals. I love these 48-hour film festivals. We did one 24 hour one and I just loved it. We did one animated one, but most were live-action, and just the thrill of making something that fast and finishing it and just having to be really quick and responsive to ideas was such a relief.
I would love to edit live-action. You know how it is though in the entertainment world. You get into a thing and those are the people you know and that’s what people see you as and that’s pretty much sort of the path you go down. But I continue to do live-action things on the side.
HULLFISH: These movies — this one and Up — I think have such great emotion. Talk to me about trying to have a sense of emotion not going over the top, feeling it, being empathetic to that emotion. Tell me a little bit about how that works with an editor.
NOLTING: In my case, working with Pete, the thing I always hammer home is that you can’t create emotion. You can’t say, We’re gonna make the audience cry here, so we’ll do it through animation or through music.
It’s all about earning it. It’s all about laying the groundwork for the emotion from the very first scene in the movie and that’s constantly how I’m always thinking is: What is this leading to? Where do we want it to go?
The early part of the movie is more important than the scene where you actually get the emotion. You’ve done your homework — so to speak. If you’ve laid the groundwork, then the emotion will come, if you’ve been authentic about building the character and finding those moments that are real and authentic in the character.
HULLFISH: I work with a director and a producer and they’re always talking about “paying it into the movie” and then “cashing it out.” That’s their analogy. The emotional value that you want to “cash-out” during a certain scene has to be paid in to earlier in the film.
NOLTING: And if you haven’t done that, you can make people cry, certainly, but is it going to feel authentic or not?
HULLFISH: Off-line you mentioned this idea which sounded really like a Pixar philosophy to me and a really smart philosophy of “giving yourself the luxury of failing.” Tell me a little bit about that.
NOLTING: Pixar was really lucky in the early days to have Steve Jobs. He was the owner and then when they went public he retained 51 percent of the stock.
He was a famous risk taker and he just instilled this idea — he did it at Apple — of quality above everything else. He gave the filmmakers the luxury of failing. They could try things, and if it didn’t work he would take the hit and let them try again.
I’ve just seen it come up over the years — and especially now that we’re more of an established company — how important it is to hold on to that and not get comfortable.
I see it in young filmmakers. Sometimes they’re developing an idea and then they start second-guessing: “What are the people who are going to give the green light going to want?” as opposed to what I want to do.
Finding that balance and making sure you just keep the creative juices going without getting this fear of failing all the time.
HULLFISH: I’ve talked to other editors about that. That you can’t edit to please a director. You can’t think about that in a first cut. You’ve got to edit the scene the way you think YOU want to cut it.
NOLTING: Right. I think that’s very important. I have the luxury of having worked with Pete for so long, I think I can align pretty quickly, but if I have ideas or if I’m not sure about what the scene is about or if I don’t think they presented the scene in a way that is communicating what it’s really about, then I have the complete liberty to go and fail essentially. To try to do something and put it out there.
HULLFISH: What’s the value of that for an editor — knowing that a director will give you that ability to fail? What does that do for you?
NOLTING: For me, it makes sure that there aren’t any ideas that are going to go undiscovered. If you’re afraid to put something out there because somebody is not going to like it then there could be a great idea you’ve come across that nobody will ever get to see. That’s the biggest thing for me.
HULLFISH: That’s super powerful. It’s a great lesson for beginning filmmakers of any type but editors or directors or writers.
Speaking of writers — you brought up to me this famous David Mamet memo to his writing staff on The Unit. I’ve seen that before, but for those who might not have read it or seen it or know about it could you kind of explain what it is and how that affects you or how you use that to think about things when you’re editing?
NOLTING: It’s pretty famous.
I think the motivation for it was that the writers on The Unit were getting a lot of notes from executives wanting everything explained and I think it was derailing the writing process a little bit.
Again, it may even point to this second-guessing yourself concept — trying to answer questions that nobody’s really asking yet. But Mamet gave them three questions they should be addressing in every scene: Who wants what? What happens if they don’t get it? And why now?
I keep those three handy on a notecard on my desk. If I’m getting lost in a scene or if I’m starting to question what the thing might be about, I look at those questions and approach the scene from that point of view to try to get on track. And if I can’t answer them, then I’ll bring it up with the writer or the director and try to get to what the idea of the scene is really about.
HULLFISH: Those questions: Who wants what? What happens if they don’t get it? And why now? seem really plot-based. But how can those questions help you with even visual choices or cutaways or reaction shots? Other things that are more editorial in nature?
NOLTING: I see what you mean and I don’t use them as gospel. If I’m getting lost in a scene and you have so many ways you can approach it or there’s just a lot of ideas there, just to sort of rein things in to give yourself a jumping-off-point to start working again.
I sometimes get lost in the weeds with stuff.
HULLFISH: I think we all do that.
NOLTING: Those questions just sort of bring it back to, “Let’s look at it from that point of view and try to at least get a spine to this.”.
HULLFISH: I love that idea. That seems a little bit more like something you do in animation editing where you’re a little bit more part of the writing process. Do you also feel that that has value in traditional narrative editing?
NOLTING: Yeah. It could but you’re right, it definitely helps us because we have the luxury of rewriting a whole scene if it’s not working. But certainly from script to shooting a scene to editing a scene, a lot of changes can be made inadvertently, and the director on the set can get a little bit lost once they start veering from the script.
So I don’t think it’s a bad thing to use even in a live-action setting where you are restricted to footage.
HULLFISH: Those are some great points. Kevin, thank you so much for a wonderful interview. Thank you for helping to make a great movie. Soul was really a wonderful journey.
NOLTING: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
The first 50 interviews in the series provided the material for the book, “Art of the Cut: Conversations with Film and TV Editors.” This is a unique book that breaks down interviews with many of the world’s best editors and organizes it into a virtual roundtable discussion centering on the topics editors care about. It is a powerful tool for experienced and aspiring editors alike. Cinemontage and CinemaEditor magazine both gave it rave reviews. No other book provides the breadth of opinion and experience. Combined, the editors featured in the book have edited for over 1,000 years on many of the most iconic, critically acclaimed, and biggest box office hits in the history of cinema.