Here’s another “print” edition of PVC’s Art of the Frame podcast. This chat is with Chancler Haynes who is an editor I’ve been following on Twitter and have been interacting with for a long time but I’d never had the chance to virtually sit down for a chat until recently. Chancler has edited some really big music videos so I wanted to talk music video editing, but as usual, we talked about a lot more than just music videos. This is a cleaned-up transcript of a free-wheeling chat so please pardon any typos or weird run-on sentences!
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Scott Simmons: Chancler, thanks for sitting down on this Art of the Frame podcast and talking about your editing and music videos and commercial spots and just, you know, a lot of the fun that is editorial these days.
Chancler Haynes: Absolutely. Man. Thanks for having me.
Scott: Yeah, we’ve been, I’ve been following you on Twitter for quite a few years and we have a connection.
It goes way back. And that is Taylor Swift. I cut a couple of her, like her very first music video. And then I don’t know if it was like the third or the fourth and you’ve got pretty much tons of them since then. So it’s like, it’s a good to great, great connections.
Chancler: It’s a full circle there. Yeah.
Scott: Yeah. Her career certainly ballooned over, over the many years.
Let’s first talk about I wanna talk a little bit about where you got your start, cause you cut have cut some of the biggest music videos that I think anybody has ever seen you, do you do a lot of high-end spots and commercials. How did you, where did that path come from?
Chancler: Well, I started off as just a movie fanboy from Texas.
I was born in Michigan, but my mom and I moved to Dallas in fourth grade. So when I was in fourth grade, so I, was a film fanatic since I can remember. And I didn’t really have like, you know, the opportunities and the things around me in Texas to just like pursue it per se. So I kind of just like shot my own little videos with my VHS camcorder and played around and played Power Rangers and all those little things.
Scott: And, you know, there are people listening to this who don’t necessarily know what VHS is.
Chancler: I realized that as I was saying it, as I was mentioning it, I was like, no, one’s going to know what that is.
Scott: Old-school videotape, right?
Chancler: Old school videotape. But no, I, I was basically just a fanboy and. Had the opportunity to go to Fullsail in Florida right after high school. And out there is where I kind of like started to learn more about the craft and learn Avid. Premiere and all the different, like aspects of filmmaking, because before then I was just a fan and didn’t really know much about it.
But it was at Fullsail that I was also going to the movies every weekend. Cause that’s kinda just what I did. And one weekend I saw a movie that was just kind of like the best thing I had ever seen. And it was called Torque. It came out in 2004 and it was a motorcycle movie. And I was like, what is this cinematic awesomeness?
I was just blown away.
Scott: Directed by your friend…
Chancler: and directed by the BFF Joseph Khan. And at that time I had seen a few of his music videos, but I didn’t really like follow him cause I didn’t really have cable. So I wasn’t watching music videos like that. But after that movie, I started trying to find more of his videos and.
So fast forward, a little bit to like 2008, I was already out of film school and I wasn’t really, you know in any film jobs quite yet, but I was still kind of just into film and trying to do my own thing. And My Space was a popular site. As popular as Twitter is now.
Scott: Wait, let’s pause a second. So, so we’re three minutes into this and we’ve already referenced VHS and My Space.
Chancler: Yup. And movie theaters, which, you know,
Scott: You go to those places, you just sit down and watch a movie in the darkness with other people. It’s a great experience.
Chancler: It’s, it’s one of the greatest inventions, you know, maybe kids will experience it one day. I found Joseph Khan on My Space. Just like a regular fanboy. Pretty much just like giving him his props on the movie.
And he instantly remembered me from some comments that I made on IMDB the day after I saw the movie. I was on there and realized that I was the only person that liked the movie at the time. And I was kind of just telling everybody off, like, you don’t understand how awesome, this is the best thing, you know, and he remembered that.
And so we kind of just kind of like became friends from My Space and kept in contact from like 2008, till 2010 or 11. When I moved to LA. And just kind of started working together. He started giving me PA jobs on his commercials and music videos. And one day he let me edit a trailer to his movie Detention, just, just for fun.
You know, I hadn’t been on an Avid since full sail and I want to just practice and he liked my first cut and kind of just like the rest is history. We just started, I started cutting his things, and wow. You know, videos became commercials and eventually he let me edit his movie and I started working with other people and, you know, he kind of just started my whole career, basically.
Scott: That’s an incredible story, I guess I just assumed that perhaps, I don’t know, I didn’t know how the connection was made.
Chancler: It was pretty that simple.
Scott: I had no clue that it involves literally commenting on the internet and like that’s, I don’t, I don’t really know. I’m, I’m floored by that, by that story there, man. What a great, what a great story though. I mean, I think that, yeah, I think that sort of shows your, your talent and what you’re doing and editing and post-production, because it’s where you get the shot and you’re able to deliver on the shot that you got.
You know what I mean? If you didn’t know if you weren’t good at editing if you didn’t have the aesthetic and the sensibilities to be able to cut and many people don’t, but then you wouldn’t have taken off from there because I mean, he could have very easily looked at your, we looked at your cut of the.
Of the trailer you did and said, you know what? This is awesome. And giving you some pointers on how to get better, but just moved on to other people and continue the friendship continued some of the work he had given you, but he’s, he passed along some of the biggest music videos he’s ever touched. And it’s in feature films to you as well.
So the trust there, I mean, it must’ve, it’s like it happened pretty organically, but pretty quickly.
Chancler: Yeah. He’s always been like super gracious with his knowledge of filmmaking. And honestly, I mean, I went to film school, but I learned more working with him. And just hearing his conversations and watching him work than I did in a whole year or anytime before that, watching behind-the-scenes documentaries and listen to the commentary.
Yeah, I learned on the job. Basically. I got the job and started learning.
Scott: What was the first music video you cut for him?
Chancler: I think it was, it was a Japanese video for AKB48. It was probably released over there, but it was the first thing I put on a reel, so it was fun.
It was something we shot in Japan and it was all in the Japanese language. So it was a very fun learning curve on how to sync audio to a language I didn’t know.
Scott: Anytime you’re working in a, in not your native language, it can be a challenge. What did you have experience in music videos or did it just come along, but he had that and you were there to help him, help him cut that?
Chancler: Well, I kind of. I guess by experience I had we can say that I dabbled in just playing around. You know, when I, after film school, I moved to Atlanta with like an old film school roommate and we were trying to shoot our own music videos. And so most of it just either ended up on YouTube or just something to like get our practice in.
And I, you know, shot videos for friends. And I kind of had an idea of how. How the process went just from kind of, you know, watching the MTV, making the videos and just whatever I saw on TV and whatever I learned at Fullsail. And so I knew the process of capturing performance and telling a story and.
It just kind of emulated that. So once I got with Joseph, it was just kind of fine-tuning and learning like the actual process and how it worked. And I think his process is like, like stellar in the way that, you know, most people will go out and just shoot entire performances and just different setups.
And most music videos are pretty much directed by art direction and not really, you know, visually compose as far as storytelling. And so Joseph comes from a whole feature film aspect of directing commercials and music videos, where, you know, you are telling a story, every shot is kind of planned out and, you know, it’s kind of, he, it’s fun to shoot and edit with Joseph because his things are so planned out that no matter how someone tries to edit it.
You know, if it has to go through a long line of, you know, suits and label and artists notes a lot, a lot of times it comes out good anyway because he’s already shot it in the way that no matter how you cut it together, it just looks good.
Scott: Oh, don’t sell yourself short man, because you know, there’s still bad performances in there.
Some way to mess something up. I mean, I think a lot of people, when they think about music videos, they think that they are very simple because it is an artist lip-syncing to a bunch of takes of the song. You can throw it into a timeline. You could almost hit sort of like an auto automated button if it existed.
I think it maybe does exist in a Resolve these days. And you could just, and you have a music video just like that, but that’s the, but that’s not the case now. Yeah. A lot. Most all of his videos you mentioned has a story to it. It’s not all just performance, but there is, often artists’ performance within the story itself.
I’d love to hear your approach to when you have an artist’s performance, how do you approach that performance? First and foremost? Because an artist has to look good. They have to be in sync. Things you have to hit to make the artist, the artist has to be comfortable with what they’re seeing there.
How do you, how do you, or maybe you don’t, maybe you approach the story first, but I’d love to hear a little bit about your approach to it when you do have performance in there.
Chancler: Well, there are very good performance videos that we’ve done that are pretty performance-driven. And with those it’s, it’s also storytelling.
I mean, you have a way to make progressions in the edit and make progressions in their performances that, you know, There it builds to something. So you’re not just seeing the same thing for the whole four minutes of the video. You know there was a video that we did for Jennifer Lopez called Dinero.
That was mainly a performance video, but the way that it was shot and the way that we pieced the edit together. It was kind of building up to different things that you would see every time, you know, every other two or three seconds, you know? So it wasn’t like a repeat of the same scene and, you know there are different shots that you build to. You have progressions and shots where you pay them off, you know, every other, every three shots or something like that.
Scott: Was this the type of performance video, where you’ve got multiple different setups, where, okay, she’s on the bridge and then she’s in the kit and I’m just making this up on the bridge and in standing by the wall, and in the water, where are you talking more where you maybe start with the bridge and you, and you live in the bridge a while, then you maybe go to the water a little while before you reach a place where you can kind of intercut those things?
Because I guess that may be a place where the director’s vision comes in, that they don’t want to see certain setups together, but maybe as an editor, you’re seeing things that the director didn’t, didn’t see when they were thinking it through because you’ve come through the footage pretty intimately.
Chancler: A lot of times, the setups will kind of be for the point in the song that’s necessary. And I just try to find the rhythm within those setups too, to make them shine. So you don’t always see a repeat, but you do, you may see the same setup. The first part of the verse. And then he goes to the second part. And then, you know, there’s a special section for the bridge.
Scott: Talking about how you approach this when you have lots of performance, they obviously the artist is lips syncing to usually playback on the set there multiple takes of a particular setup at, at any given point. I don’t know what your, your record is for how many, how many takes you may have at any given point in the song. And sometimes they overlap.
Yeah. You may have, you know, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50. First, when you look at that mountain of footage, that’s often kind of the same thing over and over and over in a sense, how do you go in and start digging in, into that performance to find that good stuff? Is it, it, it can just, it can sort of seem insurmountable at times if you have too much.
Chancler: Yeah. I mean if we’re not doing the process that I normally do, with Joseph when we shoot on set, I’m usually picking the selects and picking the shots as we shoot it. Placing them in the edit and find, so I’m actually seeing it happen live, and I’m picking what I like and kind of just placing it in as a goes, as I go.
But if I’m doing the other method where I get all the footage at once I will, I’ll just go one shot at a time and find all the good moments and kind of build my timeline in that regard. Like I kind of w you know, based on the song, I know how the structure will be. And it’s and sometimes instead of pulling selects into just a select bin or a select sequence, I just make my selects on the actual edit and find one I like and piece it in there and play the puzzle that way.
Scott: How often are you working on set on a music video versus doing everything after the fact?
Chancler: Well, when I’m working, when Joseph is on set all the time and we’ve, we’ve just started doing the onset thing, be Ecamm live, Zoom and Frame.io lately. It’s pretty cool, but I do like being on set with them cause I can actually see the setups happen and kind of feel, you know, what his process was.
It kind of lets me see the shots as they happen. And it kind of gives me a different idea of how I want to put it in there. Like, I’ll see a shot happen and I’m like, oh, I’m going to use that. I’m going to use this moment right here. And I know exactly where to find it.
Scott: You use the word “moment” and that, and I think that’s an important word when it comes to music videos because the music video is a showcase for an artist first and foremost.
That’s exactly. That’s exactly what it is and my experience. I’ve cut many bit music videos myself, which is one reason I want to have this conversation because it’s fun to talk to them is that you look for moments. Artists have moments. They have a moment when their eyes sort of capture something, looking at the camera.
And there’s a moment when they seem to do a piece of a performance better that one time than all the other 25 times that that was shot. It’s just all about those moments. When you’re on set, you’re seeing them in a different way than if you’re seeing them on your screen when you’re in the edit.
Are you sub-clipping? Are you putting markers on there? Do you watch everything and just grab little bits and pieces, and then you end up with this gigantic humongous puzzle that you didn’t have to re-sort through again, but how do you, how do you categorize those moments as being the one?
Chancler: So I love to use Markers. I usually just look through footage and I find moments that I like and I market right then and there sometimes I’ll just mark it with a green marker in Avid. And then put a little note by it. Or sometimes I’ll just make a bunch of little marks that I can skip to when I’m trying to find a certain part of a scene.
Cause all my clips are named based on the scene and who’s in it. So instead of pulling actual selects and putting them on a sequence or sub-clips, I kind of just mark everything. And start laying things into the timeline based on what I felt when I saw it and how I initially reacted to it.
Scott: We’re talking about performance stuff that obviously has to be in, in sync with the music. Let’s talk about syncing for a second because you know, traditional music videos and, and there’s shot so many different ways these days years ago, when, there was a time code slate that was sunk with an audio pack.
So you had a, you had a, a piece of audio that had time code that matched up with that slate. So it was always easy to get, get the stuff in sync. I’m assuming the artists didn’t mess up. That’s not often the case anymore. How do you deal with sync? And if you have to cheat shots and I find that many music video editors, just have trouble trying to keep stuff in sync or trying to even look at something.
And they sort of second guess themselves and say, I can’t tell if this is in sync anymore, but that’s such an important part of me. Yeah. Strategies for that type of thing?
Chancler: Well, you’re right. A lot of times music videos today don’t use a slate to sync the time code.
So it is kind of a lot of eye matching sometimes. And the best way around that is just kind of knowing the song enough to know what’s happening in the scene. A lot of times there are wide shots where you can’t really see the mouth and you can’t really tell the lip sync. And the only way you can really make sure it’s the sync is just by your eye, you know?
So there are really no shortcuts around it, besides making sure that the slate and give you a good time code to sync to, with the audio track. But I usually have to eye match a lot of things.
Scott: Eye matching for sync is kind of an art unto itself. And it’s one of those things that I think once you do it enough, you just kind of learn the feel of it and it can be, it can be tricky to get there.
I think so many music videos these days, especially lower-budget ones. They don’t use a slate at all. And it’s all just you capture the playback on the set. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard when I’ve asked about sync and it’s the answer is “oh, can’t you just use PluralEyes? “
Chancler: So many times.
Scott: And then there are times when they say can’t you just use PluralEyes and you get the footage and there’s no scratch audio and it’s just silence. And then you’re like, well, PluralEyes doesn’t work when there’s silence.
When you have music videos that are story-driven, most of them usually have some kind of performance, but sometimes they don’t, it’s all just like a mini-movie, which music videos that’s part of the fun of them, they’re mini-movies, but what is the approach when you have a story? Because I’m sure. The story is structured around certain parts of the songs.
But then again, if you have a great performance, you may want to showcase and move the story around from where you may have thought it was originally going to land. So how, how does, how does the story come into the play?
Chancler: If the performance is a standard performance where it’s, you know, built around just singing to the camera performance and the performance isn’t actually in the story, like the person’s not, you know, singing to the other person or they’re driving in the car, you know, musical style and it’s just a straight music video performance with the story built around it, a lot of times it’s best to build your performance first, make sure you have a good performance video.
And then you pepper in the story pieces on top of that.
Scott: Are there are times when you find that, oh, my God, I have too much good performance or I have too much good story or one that really outweighs the other. And is that, and it’s evident as you’ve, as you’ve made your cut?
Chancler: You know, I think I did run into this, a similar thing with the Jonas Brothers “What a man gotta do” video, cause we kind of built that video performance first.
Although we had the performance strategically where it needed to be, we had an all-performance video first and, then peppered in all the story beats on top of that. And there was a moment towards the end for the very last end sequence that was all performance and all singing and dancing.
And we sent a cut to the label in it at first they wanted it just like that. Like, they didn’t want the story beats put in there because the performance was so fun. But, we were like, we got to try and see if we could fit, you know, some other moments in here to kind of tie in the things we were doing at the front end.
So that’s one instance where sometimes it can be really jam-packed with good performance and you feel like you don’t need the story, or there’s no room for it, but there’s always ways to, you know, find, find places to put it.
Scott: You mentioned, send it over to the label. That’s one topic I wanted to discuss is dealing with not just artists, but you have artists management.
You have God forbid, hair and makeup wanna chime in on something they don’t like. You have the record label folks, you have executives it can be a real minefield to walk through sometimes. I’m curious as are you shielded from that type of stuff? Working with the director, like, like Joseph, who probably has a, has a real, a big relationship with the labels and with the management, or are you in a place sometimes where you have to kind of get your, get your feet in the, in the mud, so to speak with, with artists, with dealing with management and things like that.
Chancler: You know, it depends on the video. It depends on the label, honestly, because,
I mean, I’m right there in the thick of it with him. And I, I kind of feel his pain. Sometimes we get some crazy notes back. Sometimes they respect his artistry and don’t give him any notes. Like there are times when, for instance, I mean, when we did start for Taylor Swift had very minimal notes all the time.
She was kind of just like, can we just change this part? Or, you know, she liked the different performance, but it was never any kind of restructuring or just blowing up the edit when we worked with her.
Scott: What a good feeling that is, or that kind of helps justify, what the creative folks were doing to, to get to that point.
Chancler: Yeah. I mean, he gets, he gets that more often than not like most people respect where he comes from and know they understand that he knows what he’s doing and they don’t give him a lot of notes. But every now and then, you know, we’ll get some really crazy notes from certain people and we’ll have to find ways to deliver on those notes, but still keep the video intact.
And then, you know, sometimes he pushes back too, but he’ll send the notes to me and I’ll try to do my best to answer them and keep everything intact. And sometimes they’ll be like, oh, I’m going to try and push back on this. And we kind of just found a balance. and see what can be done.
Scott: Notes, in general, are always a balance, I think, between whoever’s giving them and the editor and the director, because there, there are things you find as you’re editing that either “this works amazingly well, we never thought about this, I want to be able to keep this in there” versus “this did not work at all, I know you have a grand vision for this.”
Sometimes it’s the director, sometimes, maybe it is the label and it just didn’t work. You have to get that point across to them without sometimes kind of tactfully without just saying you don’t know what you’re talking about, but right? You can probably tell him. And that’s what anything about a good director/ editor relationship is once you get that shorthand there I think.
You know, he knows what you’re thinking. You know what he’s thinking. You can tell him some stuff you probably couldn’t tell other directors, or certainly couldn’t tell artists or management people. Right. You guys have worked together long enough, so I’m sure you have that shorthand at this point. Built really well.
Chancler: We definitely do. Yeah. There are times where he just let’s me go and cut and he knows what to expect, and I know what to, what to give him. And it’s very little fine-tuning sometimes. And, you know, it’s, we kind of do have that shorthand where I know exactly his style. And even though his style progresses almost every different project, I still kind of know what he’s looking for in an edit.
And it’s easy, to deliver.
Scott: Yeah, that’s great. Now let’s talk about Taylor Swift for a minute, because she’s been starting to direct some of her own music videos, and you have cut several of her music videos that she has, you may have cut all the ones she directed. I knew she had moved into directing, but I don’t think I’d realized she had directed three of her music videos, which is, which is pretty, pretty cool. And you’ve cut all three of those, I think. Correct?
Chancler: Yes. Correct.
Scott: So how did that transition happen? Because I had to think that drama person in me wants to think there’s some kind of great, the grand story there where like Taylor Swift stole Chancler from Joseph, you know, to cut her music videos and there’s tension and there’s anger.
And I’m sure it’s not that at all,
Chancler: I certainly hope that’s not what’s going around in the tabloids, but
Scott: I’m making that up man!
Chancler: Tabloids for the kids, that’s an old newspaper that people learn things from before Twitter.
Scott: And it was often, most, usually not true, kind of like Twitter.
But no, I think when she was starting that album for, Lover, she started working with some other people and then she decided she wanted to try and direct something on her own. And she tapped into me cause she wanted to try the onset workflow that Joseph had and taught me how to do so.
Her people hit me up and I’ve actually gone to Joseph first because I was wanting to get his blessing before I went off and worked with an artist he, that he wasn’t working with anymore because he had started doing some bigger things and everyone was kind of going their own separate way. So I particularly didn’t want to start any drama soft, like, “Hey Joseph, Taylor sent me about editing on set. What do you think? “
And he was like, “go for it. It should be, it should be, it should be good for you should be fine.” He kind of gave me the blessing. So if it wasn’t for him giving me the blessing, I probably would have respectfully declined.
Scott: Well, I think that’s important for relationships and that sort of really, pinpointed there because you had that standing relationship much longer with, with Joseph than you did with, with Taylor.
So I think that’s like a lesson to the kids out there who are wondering what tabloids and VHS is. Yeah. Don’t burn the bridges, you know, keep those relationships intact. And, I think it’s says something about Joseph he said, “Hey, man, this is a great, it’s a great opportunity. You have a lot of fun you know, go, go do it”. Because that’s I mean, it’s great as a director, as Joseph Khan is, I mean, to see director Taylor Swift and use the editor is, that’s pretty good credit to have as well.
Chancler: Yeah. It’s fun. She definitely is really good. She’s learned a lot from, I’m pretty sure watching the way it Joseph and I worked on set and because it’s a very good workflow. I don’t normally do the onset thing with a lot of other people at this point, it’s kind of just been Joseph and Taylor because you kind of have to have a certain eye and, and a plan of shooting, like the, spray and pray method of shooting, just shooting a bunch of stuff.
That kind of stuff would not work for onset. I mean, you could try it, but it would be a big headache for me, but, she definitely learned how to plan the shoots very well and storyboard and do things like that that make the onset workflow work a lot better.
Scott: So many music videos are “spray and pray” and I’m talking high-end music videos, not just low-budget stuff. The joke used to be you get three Canon 5Ds out there and you just roll them, free all the time for multiple days and see what you get.
I think that does still happen, but you know, a lot of the videos you work on are very visual effects-driven. If you’re cutting them on said you’re not seeing a lot of those visual effects. Exactly. What is the process there for dealing with visual effects?
There are many movies as we talked about, but when you add the visual effects element into it. They are very much a mini-movie because you have to go through the process of developing the effects, approving the effects, integrating the effects. How do you, what is your approach when you know, it’s going to be a very effect-driven piece?
Chancler: That is another instance where trust is involved, trust in the director, you know, trust in the editor trust in the production in general.
Because the first cuts are always. You know, rough comps that I’ll do in Avid or in Premiere and, you know some rough green screens. And sometimes it’ll just be the performance over green screen, if the background is supposed to be completely CG. So there’s a lot of things that don’t look up to par in a rough cut, and it takes someone with, you know, trust to kind of just like understand where it’s going because a lot of those things need to be locked early on so we can start doing the VFX.
Artists like Taylor and even J-Lo and, Jonas Brothers, you know, people like that who respect you trust the director, they kind of just, you know, see those kinds of things and say, “okay, so this was going to be all right,” you know, and then just lock the cut and we can move forward with making it look pretty, you know.
Scott: Trust, relationships; these are words that all kind of, kind of go together there. We’ve got the word moment that we talked about. Finding those moments trusting the, you know, the people that you hire, the people you’re working with, and the relationships established between those people is all very important stuff.
One thing on music videos is they’re a unique world because they’re a song that you normally listen to, but you’ve got a visual element because you’re watching them. So those two things marry in a, very particular, very unique way. Often I think, and I find when music videos, I cut, I’m trying to find a way to sort of punctuate the song in the beats with things that I’m seeing on screen.
I think that’s part of the wonder of a music video, but if you’re working with a lot of visual effects, wherein your mind are you trying to meld, picture and music to try to make those two things purposefully together in a very artful way if that makes sense.
I don’t know if that makes sense what I just asked?
Chancler: Totally. And it’s something that I definitely learned and started practicing later on in my career than when I first started. Cause I mean, initially you think when you think music videos is editing shots to the beat or quick cuts and things like that, but I’ve really grown to love musicals and things like that.
So I love to edit things with longer takes and edit things within the frame. So a lot of times I’ll make something that’s happening in the frame happen to the beat and not necessarily the cut happening to the beat. So when it comes to visual effects I’ll do rough comps and edit something, like on a green screen, it makes sure the timing is correct so that, once it’s done in VFX for real, then that actually happens the way I want it to. It probably will look really bad in my edit, but as long as the timing is right, you know, I like editing things within the frame.
Scott: I find myself incredibly guilty sometimes of cutting on beats and wanting to cut on beats as I realized that I’m like, you know what, I’m cutting too much on the beat, but sometimes I can’t stop myself, but, but I think that’s a really important point for someone who’s thinking about editing music videos is the stuff within the frame, punctuating the beat and not the cut punctuating the beat, whether that, you know, whether that’s a guitar or a drum, or it can even be like the artists, you know, just them doing something with their body or just the way they sing. I think that’s really one of the fun things about music videos, but I think to take that a step further on some of the story-driven pieces that you’ve worked on, you’ve got action going on.
You’ve got fight scenes. You’ve got people being thrown out of buildings. So you’re, so you’re going beyond just the artist or the band punctuating stuff. You’ve got action elements and so much of the story doing the same thing.
Chancler: I mean, I just really love movement in general and in pictures.
So like anytime I can find a certain punctuation in someone’s move or their look that just goes with it, guitar riff, or it goes with a drum beat. Those are the kinds of things that I mark, you know, a lot of times I’m not marking like a favorite shot. I’m marking what this person did in the shot or how they, how they moved. And those are the types of things that catch my eye.
Scott: Yeah. It’s almost like the visual element is an instrument of the song. It’s just as important in videos as the guitar, as the drum, and sometimes the artist. It’s the visual element is an instrument to kind of help to sell the whole video and make the experience even deeper.
Someone, I think maybe said that to me about editing music videos. They said the “the video is an instrument” and I was like, oh!
Chancler: Yea. It is.
Scott: Cool. I never thought about that. Yeah.
I wanna talk about colors and colorists for a second because with music videos, and also with commercials because we’re going to commercials in a second, cause you do a lot of commercial work too.
It’s a very polished look. So it’s very gorgeous. It’s good-looking stuff. The footage is shot well, there’s a real intricacy taken in the effects, in the color grading. What relationship do you the editor have with a colorist, in these genres where the final look is so very important?
Chancler: It’s mainly just an appreciation cause I, I don’t always have a say on who the colorist is. A lot of times I will reference one or say, “Hey, why don’t you hit up Dave Hussey? Cause you know, he’s super great.” You know,
Scott: He is amazing.
Chancler: I’ll do that whenever I can, but it’s not really like, my say. So my main goal is whenever I’m in a session, making sure they have all the material they need, make sure they have the shots if they’re missing anything. I’m usually there with my laptop and the drive to hand it over, or I have access to the assistants and I’ll tell them what we’re missing, but I’m usually just in there marveling and watching them, watching them work.
Scott: But you are going to most of the, I guess as much as you can go into the color sessions.
Chancler: Yeah. I mean the last couple, of course, have been via zoom, but pre-pandemic I was at as many of the sessions, as I could be.
Scott: Continuing on the color, this probably happens before color, but what about and this is something with, with artists, you may not experience with other types of things that people edit, but you have the vanity side of things where they have to look good.
There’s a blemish there. Their hair is out of place there. How, how does that come into effect as you’re going through a music video? Because I’m sure there are people that watch the cuts and the, and the only reason they’re watching rough cuts is to look for things that are not super flattering with the artists. Does that stuff ever come into play?
Chancler: It is a lot of vanity notes on the edit. And in those situations, we tend to try and find other takes that work better.
And if not, we sometimes can just let them know, “Hey, we’ll clean this up and finishing and post”, and sometimes that’ll work, you know, but A lot of times we do have to change some edits based on how an artist or a certain person looks in the shot or what their performance did to their hair or their face or something like that.
But I mean, that’s just kind of the nature of the game though. We always have a backup, you know, I’m always picking like my favorite shots first and I know deep down and it may not always last.
Scott: On average, how many times do you roll your eyes as you’re getting notes back? What’d you say? 50? 150?
Chancler: I guess that depends on the job too cause there could be several eye-rolls on one project. Not many on another so.
Scott: You ain’t kidding. Well, you actually mentioned sort of having backups when you have multiple performances, that is kind of a nice thing about that is you can have backups to performance if they’ve done multiple takes.
Usually, you can find something. Let’s talk tech for a minute cause you mentioned Premiere and you mentioned Avid. Do you do more of your work in Avid these days or have you transitioned more into Premiere?
Chancler: It’s about even now. So when I first started with Joseph we were all Avid.
He was, he’s been cutting Avid since he started, you know, way back and, and he started the whole onset editing thing back in early two thousands. And when I came in and learned that process I was all Avid and then I would do Premiere when I needed to, before I started working professionally, I was cutting on Premiere and Final Cut because that’s all I could get on my computer at the time.
But then I started getting more into Avid when I moved to LA and I really love Avid. So We just started switching over to Premiere with Joseph because of just a, it was a better workflow for finishing for some of the finishing houses that we work with. So we started working with Premiere and I’ve been doing all of his jobs in Premiere.
And then when I do commercials at my company, most of the time it’s Avid.
Scott: When you’re doing music videos with performance are using multicam? That’s often some sort of, almost like a philosophical discussion for music video people.
Chancler: With music videos, especially when I would cut them in Avid, we’d take the entire performance. All performance takes and group them as one big performance group. And I could look through them all. Based on where it is in the song.
Scott: I’ve had these discussions with editors sometimes that don’t do that on music videos and I sort of look at them thinking it seems so much easier to be able to any one given point, just to go to that point and just quickly switch to the different angles to see what you have.
But yet at the same time, there are those that I’ve seen those that still love to just stack them all up in the timeline and kind of cutaway what they don’t want, which I guess gets the same result, but it seems much less efficient.
Chancler: Yeah. You know, I’ve tried it both ways. And when I did a couple of videos in Premiere cause I’m, I’m honestly not as good at syncing audio in Premiere as I am an Avid. So I’ve done the stack in Premiere when I had to. And I did not really like it that much. It worked and I got the job done, but I, I do think for me, it was a little bit more efficient for me to group them all.
And a lot of times I didn’t actually even edit with the group. I would use that to find what I need to find in the edit and then place it where I wanted it to.
I mean, there are some times I would use the group to edit. I usually like to just find moments that I like first kind of pepper them in and then fill out the rest of it.
Scott: And there’s no right or wrong way to do any of this stuff, to be quite honest with you. It’s very much a, you know, personal thing I think.
A lot of stuff I work on is speed is important. It’s like, “Hey, you only have so much time”, or “the budget’s only this much” so it’s like, oh, you got to get this done pretty quick.
Scott: Yeah. I find the grouping, the multicam style to make things much faster, but I’ve, I don’t know if you’ve seen we’ve again, we followed each other on Twitter for a long time every now and then I’ll post these, these screen grabs usually in Premiere of these, you know, like, oh, there’s, that’s 50 layers deep.
Like, what is all these little clips over the timeline? I’ve got this I music videos, it’s I feel like I kind of want to watch every second of every performance just to make sure I don’t miss any little thing. And I’ll grab these little things out of sometimes out of context, we usually in the piece of performance and just kinda throw them all on there.
I can say, all right, these are my favorites of everything. And it looks like at an insane mess, but like my desk, I know exactly where everything is I’m going to work “messily,” but clean it up before I have to hand it off or when I get done. I think messy can be okay if it’s for your own mess.
Chancler: Right. If you know where everything is in the mess, then that’s all that matters.
Scott: Now you work a lot in, in commercials. So how did you, did you make a transition into commercials? Were you doing some commercials before music videos or how, how did cause you’ve done a lot of high-end commercial work as well.
Chancler: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s, that’s all again, thanks to Joseph. Cause when I first started, you know, freelancing I was basically just cutting stuff for him. And then I was able to, start assistant editing at some commercial houses around LA while I was freelancing for him. That was a good money hustle for me to be an assistant editor.
Cause I did not know that assistance made as much as they made. And I was like, oh, let me do that. So I started doing that while I was cutting for Joseph, and then as I started assisting around town, I started getting to know more people in commercials. And then I would edit on set for Joseph on his commercials, but since I wasn’t repped by a company yet,
I would edit on set for him, and then the commercial would go to someone else at like a post house and they’d finish it. So I was getting a taste of how commercials were done and everything. So with my music, video reel and working in a bunch of commercial houses, I was able to eventually kind of work my way up to being an editor at a commercial house.
And then I started cutting commercials.
Scott: We talked about music videos where you’ve got artists and you’ve got management. On the commercial side of things you still have the director, but then you have agencies and you have agency people and more agency people, perhaps some people at the company, but mainly a lot more agency people who are their own interesting people to deal with.
How do those two worlds compare?
Chancler: With commercials, I feel like there are a lot more cooks in the kitchen. And a lot more people that the cuts have to go through and the notes can be extensive depending on the project you’re working on. So with commercials, you kind of just have to put in your best effort and then keep the cut shaped up as possible as you can, while the different notes come through the line, you know?
Scott: It seems like on the one hand, that’s kind of an insane thought because, with music videos, you have artists, you have management. I mean, we talked about all the different worlds of, you know, the worlds around musical artists, especially big musical artists.
With commercials, oh, it’s just an agency. You’re shielded from the brand often because of the agency, but it would seem like, oh, it’s just the agency. Why is that so much? I don’t want to say worse, but why is that so much worse sometimes? But I think you’re, there are so many people in an agency that feels like they have to touch something.
You have to bite your tongue sometimes.
Chancler: You do. I mean, I’m honestly, I’m working on a job right now. I won’t say the product, but it’s one of those things where it’s a commercial but also has a music artist in it. So you’re dealing with not only. Agency and all those fixing the kitchen, but then you’re getting approval from artists and their people, and it goes up the ladder.
But then by the time it’s up the ladder, someone at the bottom of the ladder hasn’t had their say yet. And so you’re going to go back and do what they want. And it’s just a lot of, saying, you know, a lot of people with ideas for a 30-second spot. And it’s like, all right guys, “I mean, it could have been done three weeks ago.”
Scott: Well, how do you deal with the timelines on things like that? Because often spots, I would assume they have much harder sort of air deadlines and maybe a music video, maybe they don’t, but I would think they probably are, much much harder deadlines in a music video might be. At some point you just have to say, there’s, there’s no more time, or is that where the director is able to run some interference there?
I assume they’re probably running a lot of interference for you.
Chancler: A lot of times it seems like since they, the agency and the people in, in advertising and even the client, they have the money to throw around, they just extend the deadline. There’s been a lot of times, things needed to be locked, but it wasn’t, they just, they just paid the overages because they could, and we just kept going, you know?
Chancler: And I’m sure they have an air date to meet. I mean, the edit schedule seems to be pretty flexible in their eyes. So a lot of times that could fluctuate.
Scott: Are you on set for spots?
Chancler: Actually? Yeah. For Joseph’s at least. And those are a little bit more, more chill than music videos as far as the workflow because those are pretty heavily storyboarded and we do a shot and we wait for approval from agency and clients. So it’s kind of a little bit more laid-back setting. The music videos are where it’s fun and we’re running and gunning and getting shots. We’re shooting way faster on music videos than commercials most of the time.
Scott: On a workflow like that on set, I assume you’re not being a DIT. The DIT is handing you stuff over and you’re at a laptop. Is it as simple as that? Is there a huge video village where you get tents put over you and you get, you know, you get craft services brought to you?
Chancler: I do get a feed from the video playback I’m cutting off of the VTR playback footage. So that I can get the shot in as soon as Joseph deals cut, I can cut it in and see how it looks and play around with it.
Scott: Is that time code matching the camera originals?
So if you need to get back or do you have to conform that by eye or?
Chancler: I conform it by eye because I get the overlay, the video, the video tap overlays. So I see the time code and the clip. I use that. On commercials. Sometimes I can overcut with the transcodes from the DIT on the day, but if it’s a music videos, a lot of times we’re moving so fast, I’ll just do that, you know, the day after, or once we’re done on set.
But we usually have a rough cut of the video or the commercial after we wrap.
Scott: That’s nice. I mean, that’s, that really has to help the part of the process along after the fact tremendously.
Chancler: Yeah. Oh, it does. And it, it definitely for a lot of the artists especially Taylor and we did stuff for Mariah Carey when they can see the edit actually happening and see a rough finished product. It makes them feel better about what they did the last day or two.
Scott: I can imagine. And I’m sure that the expense of bringing, I guess you don’t come to the set for free, the expense of bringing the editor on set it’s, you know, it’s far outweighed by being able to leave the set with a, with just a feeling of accomplishment and knowing you got what you needed.
That’s gotta be well worth the cost.
Chancler: Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s definitely worth, it definitely gives the director a peace of mind gives, you know, artists peace of mind. It gives me peace of mind too, because when I’m diving into the edit after the shoot and I have like, you know, all the VTR footage and I have to over cut it with the transcodes, then I kinda, instead of starting with an empty timeline, I’m kinda just putting in what I’ve already done and fine-tuning some things and finding new moments that I may have missed.
It’s a little easier to start a fresh edit, not with an empty timeline with an idea of where I want it to go.
Scott: When you have limited amount of time on any kind of project, you know, the more you can comb through the footage sometimes the more gems you can find, the more moments that you can find.
And that’s you know, what a that’s a great lesson for those who sometimes want to push things too far, it’s you, at some point, you don’t give the editor enough time to do what they really need to do. I think that’s kind of what it comes down to these days sometimes that, I mean,
Are you finding that the turnaround times have been getting smaller and smaller and smaller as, as the years have passed by? I think people, a lot of times I think this stuff is so easy. You got all the tools on your laptop, you know? Is that, is that becoming, oh yeah, is it getting better or worse?
Chancler: I think we’ve kinda shot ourselves in the foot with how fast we have become editorially as a whole, because people, everyone knows that we can do things quicker, so the timelines have gotten a lot shorter.
We’ve done some things where I think we were doing Capital One a couple of years ago and it was a three-week shoot and we were doing five or six different commercials.
The first commercial that we shot on Monday aired that Friday. Wow.
Granted, it wasn’t as much VFX involved. There were VFX, but we kind of shot it that day, locked it the next day. Got it into VFX and got it out. The fact that we edited on set and they knew that we did that is why they even set that schedule.
Scott: That’s fantastic. That shows you what you’re gonna accomplish when everybody sort of has a plan in mind and they stick to the plan.
Chancler: Yeah, it worked out pretty well. It was stressful to look at the schedule and say, “do you want us to do what?” But it actually worked out.
Scott: To work on set like that, you’ve got to be a fast editor.
So I assume that you’re I know that you’re fast because you wouldn’t be able to do what you’re doing if you weren’t, but there’s that balance between being fast and thorough and good. So you kinda, you gotta be able to do both. And it sounds like you’re able to do both.
Chancler: Yeah, it’s, it’s definitely a challenge because I don’t want, I don’t want the quickness of the editing to ever like compromise, finding gold, and doing fun, new things.
You know what I mean? So like, even when we shot the film Bodied, we cut it. I cut on set and we had that time. We did have three cameras rolling for like all the battle rap scenes and on set, I was just trying to keep up and get things come together. So I had, you know, some kind of a rhythm and whatnot, but I don’t think that I found all the nuances of the battle raps and the moments until I was able to sit down with it later, not onset.
Cause that’s when I could actually think and find different ways to make the content of the people looking at each other and make it like a boxing match between them. And those kinds of nuances, I found like when I was able to just sit with the footage.
Scott: That’s great. That’s the best of both worlds right there. It sounds like.
Scott: I’m going to ask you one more question. We’ll wrap on this.
So when are you going to move into doing some of your own directing?
Chancler: You know, I don’t think I ever want to direct.
Scott: Right. Ah, interesting. Interesting. That seems that you’re the exception, not the norm.
Chancler: Here’s the thing. I love what directors do so much that I don’t want to tamper with it. When I first started filmmaking and as a kid, and even when I moved to Atlanta, friends out there and we shot music videos for fun. It was kind of just, I love filmmaking and I didn’t really have a path that I wanted to go down and I wanted to make things.
I just wanted to do things. And when I started to see Joseph firsthand and see what directors actually do, that’s, that’s a really hard job. And I respect it so much that I don’t want to tamper with it. And I feel like I fit in better as an editor. I mean, from time to time, I shoot little family videos to practice editing and I liked, I like composition and I like cinematography.
I like to shoot things, you know, and that’s fun. I’ll shoot things just so that I can edit it. You know, I’ve done some videos with some friends recently just to kind of play around with things and help them out. And it’s never been to be a director. It’s kinda just like, I want to see a cool video and no one’s going to shoot this the way I want it to edit it.
So I’m going to do it myself and then I’ll have something fun to cut, but like, yeah. I don’t think I ever want to direct that. That’s a hundred percent certainty.
Scott: I mean, that’s great to hear because the people dedicated, only the post-production seems to be a, not so much in LA in New York, but you know, it’s a lot of markets like where I am, it seems to be a rarity that people are like, you know, ” I am in post. I only do post. I only want to edit and do and do post.”
What I see, especially in markets, like where I live in Nashville is so many directors are starting to edit their own stuff. A lot of that is budget. The budgets aren’t great as they used to be, and they can make more money.
I often get the, “well, I know exactly what I want”, but I come from the side of, “you know what you want, but you may get something better with another set of eyes.”
You know, think it’s kind of an editorial struggle these days when directors, want to cut their own stuff.
And what I see happening often is you see credits and you see people talking about the production and the editor’s not listed, which usually means the director cut it, but it sort of belittles the process even when they can’t even list an editor, even when it’s the director. I hate that.
Chancler: You mean that stuff honestly used to bother me too when there wouldn’t be editor credits on things, but lately it doesn’t bother me at all because, I honestly, at this point in my life, I just love watching movies and, I just like watching things. Enjoying the process. So I don’t really need a credit.
Scott: You need a paycheck though.
Chancler: Yeah. That’s the thing. As long as I’m able to feed the family, I, you don’t have to have put my name on a credit.
I’ve had some artists want a co-editor credit because they sat behind me while I cut their video. And I was like, oh, okay, well, that’s interesting.
If that’s what you want to do.
Scott: I’ve seen artists take co-director credits and stuff, and it’s like,” I was around. I don’t think you really did that much to direct it, but okay. If that’s what you want, then go ahead.”
But you know, things such as, such as the world that we work in. So I agree with you, you know, working, having fun and making a good living.
Then what’s the old joke it beats digging ditches. So
Scott: So Chancler, thanks for sitting down and chatting, man. This was a fun, a fun, a fun chat. I, I, I was, so my favorite part of our chat was learning your story of how you got hooked up with Joseph. That’s a fantastic story. And I’m, and I’m a better person for hearing that.
I appreciate you sharing that.
Chancler: Thanks for having me, man. I, I enjoy the podcast, so I’m happy to be on it.
Scott: We’ll keep an eye out for future things and good luck on all that comes your way, my friend.
Chancler: Thanks so much, Scott.