- Hi Matt, please introduce yourself to our readers, and what you’ve been up to recently.
Hello. I’m the Supervising Visual Effects Editor at Weta Digital Ltd. I have been at Weta for over 20 years and formed the Editorial Department proper in 1999 when we purchased our first Media Composer system for Lord of the Rings. I have been involved in many major motion Picture productions over the years. Now that I have a team of 9 VFX editors in the Department I am less ‘hands on’ with individual productions and can spend time streamlining workflows and managing our infrastructure and people.
- How did it feel working on “The Last of the Starks”, particularly the scene where Rhaegal gets killed?
Personally, I felt very little because I didn’t work on it! Because most of the Editorial team were fans of the series nobody wanted to work on the show too much because we didn’t want to see any spoilers!Believe it or not I managed to avoid seeing any of this scene until the Episode went to air so I was as blown away as anybody else watching for the first time. Incredible work. I had a great deal more to do on ‘The Long Night’ so I didn’t totally escape the spoilers! Our VFX Editor on the Rhaegal scene was Jonathan Martin and he explains it like this‘… I think the Rhaegal death scene was the first piece of previs I saw out of everything we worked on and as a big fan of the show even in those very early stages the emotional impact was pretty heavy hitting. Because I’m not an artist and nor do I have any involvement in the creative aspect of shots I could only marvel as a fan every time I saw new versions of it. The VFX Supervisor Martin Hill and the team here took it to an immense level. It’s weird walking around with that knowledge or image in your mind, knowing that viewers are going to be absolutely blindsided with this epic scene.’
- Avengers: Endgame was such a highly anticipated film, the pressure to deliver must have been immense. Can you share with us how it was like working on what was arguably the biggest movie of 2019?
I don’t think there’s any argument, it WAS the biggest film of 2019! Once again, as a fan of the Marvel Universe, and having worked on other films in the franchise, you’re approaching what you know will be the culmination of a great series with a bit of trepidation. You want the work to be stellar and do justice to the great characters and their story arcs. Weta was tasked with the Epic finale battle and it really brought out the best in us I think. Weta VFX Supervisor Matt Aitken is one of the calmest people I’ve ever met and he and his team displayed great character under a lot of pressure and produced some stunning work. Senior VFX Editor Aaron Cubis managed a lot of the day to day Editorial work for Weta..‘..Working in the VFX Editorial Dept at Weta means that we manage some highly sensitive material. That was certainly the case for Avengers: Endgame where Weta was tasked with creating visual effects that covered crucial moments for a few key characters in the movie.It’s certainly exciting to be part of the team that is aware of the magnitude of these moments and share in the responsibility of keeping those completely under wraps.The edit was very fluid so it was crucial for us to make sure we were completely on top of all the revisions that affected Weta’s work. The cuts were worked through intensely to ensure that all the information we were receiving from the Marvel VFX Editorial team married up with what we were seeing and any additional changes were immediately queried with them. The emphasis was to make sure no errors made their way past us and onto the artists and that there was as little lag as possible between us receiving the revisions and getting them the information they needed. To that end we at times had the entire team working on the show.One of the most intense moments on the show for us was working on the Women of Marvel beat, where we worked closely with Weta’s Animation department to ensure they could provide the Director’s what they were after in the closing weeksof the production.’
- Over the course of your career, how has the technological advancements in editing software changed the way you approach your job, and their impact on the creative process?
Back in the Film days things meandered along in much the same way for several years. Avid Media Composer was there to lead the charge into file based Editing and after Digital Cameras arrived on the scene things accelerated markedly. For a long time Post Production was miles behind acquisition, what you could capture with camerasfar exceeded what you could do with it realistically in Post. Higher frame rates, stereo, bigger resolutions, a dozen different formats on a single film, HDR, to name a few, came about well ahead of what you could do with it in Editing software. It seems now we’ve caught up and can adapt quickly to any scenario because the software enables us to be very flexible.
- What are some tools that you use for your work?
Avid has been with us the whole journey. It’s still the mainstay of our day to day work and 95% of the projects we work on are edited on Media Composer.Final Cut Pro 7 was also a real workhorse for us but now that gap has been filled by Premiere Pro. We also use Resolve a bit too. Nuke and Nuke Studio, RV and a host of proprietary tools are also essential.
- Are there any technical tips you can share with those who are new to the industry?
Probably none that you can’t find in a hundred YouTube Videos!
- What can attendees expect from your talk at BroadcastAsia?
Hopefully an insightful and entertaining journey through my years as a Visual Effects EditoratWeta Digital. I’ll have some clips of our work to show and discuss plus I’m always open to some good old Q & A!
- Finally, what advise do you have for those looking to start out?
I’ve hired quite a few people over the years with all sorts of different skill sets but the number one thing I look for is good attitude anda character that I think will fit in with the team. Having a good team culture and unity is really important when you’re working long hours and things get stressful. You have to look aftereach other andback each other up. Be prepared to do the dirty work when you start out and perhaps the later shifts if required. If you want to edit feature films then a VFX Editorial job is probably not the right place for you I’m sorry.