Annellie Samuel is our Supervising Editor on Magic School Bus Rides Again. Last week she took part on a panel of female pre/post editors at a meet up for the popular Toronto group, Women Draw Together.
The event was held at Supersonics in Toronto, and was moderated by Fiona Savage. The panel of editors included Stephanie Duncan, Kerri Locke , Lesley Mackay Hunter and of course our own, Annellie Samuel.
Annellie spoke about her incredible career as a picture/sound editor, and shared how she got to where she is today. It was a fantastic evening of interesting stories and experiences.
And as an added bonus, Annellie agreed to share some of her career experience with us, here on the blog! Check out her profile below and see what cuts and splices go into becoming a first-class picture editor.
Annellie Samuel, Supervising Editor, Magic School Bus Rides Again:
“Life is a puzzle and it is a lot of fun to keep looking at it from different angles and to take something you are struggling with, flip it on its head, and see it in a different way. That always helps.”
1. What is your role at Brown Bag Films Toronto?
I am the Supervising Editor on Magic School Bus Rides Again.
2. What does a typical day working on Magic School Bus look like?
Fun, stressful, puzzling and satisfying!
3. What do you love most about your job?
I’ve worked in both live action and animation for most of my career. I tried out many different types of editing as I was learning the craft, and was intrigued by all the diverse aspects of the profession. I’ve worked in documentaries; one in particular that stands out was about women in film, by Holly Dale and Janice Cole. I’ve also edited many different live action and animated formats, like television series, movies of the week and features. I went back and forth between working in animation and live action for 20 years, and eventually I found that with animation, as an editor, you have more ability to shape the story and really get in there, than you do with live action.
I also just love leica editing! I love that you can get a line written if something is not working well. Or that you can change the camera and focus on one character, rather than a group of characters (as the storyboards were originally drawn), or when focusing on one character, you can get the action re drawn and have them do more or less, or pop in a joke to get an additional laugh. It’s a never-ending puzzle that works around the characters and the story line, and you can make changes to pretty much all parts of it.
4. Can you give us a bit of a deep dive on the difference between Leica and Colour Editing?
Editing in animation covers a lot of ground. In leica, your focus is the story, the pace, where your camera is, and the characters. You have free reign at this time, as it happens before production, thus you can still change things around, get lines written to help a section play better, and add shots to make more sense of where you are, or what you are looking at.
Then you move over to the colour editing. This is after the animation has gone through production. At this stage you are more limited to what can be done in editing. You can still work on the storytelling, but you need to find ways to change things in a more controlled or sneaky way. As you are now working with existing animation and any calls that are made will involve going back to production, to re work sections, and this is time consuming. So, you make your calls with this in mind, and you do what you can to avoid adding a lot of work back to production.
For example: A character says a line that now needs to be changed in colour. The line is re written and recorded, and sent back to the editor to cut in. When cutting it back in, I will try to re work the line, and use existing animation and lip sync that I already have, and if possible duplicate a frame or two of that to make it all work. And there you have it, I’ve figured out a way to avoid sending this shot back to production!
5. What is your origins story? Aka, how did you get to where you are today in your career?
I went to Sheridan College in the mid 80’s and did a BA in media arts. The program covered film, television production, sound and photography. I fell in love with sound and started my career as a sound editor, working first in television and then in animation.
My first job was on a Television series called Danger Bay. I got this job thru a work placement program at Sheridan. It was in the editing department, and at this time editing was not really touched on much at Sheridan, so it was something very new to me and I just feel in love with it. When I started working, the industry was working with 35mm film and mag stock. It was all about strange machines called Moviolas, sound benches, splicers and flat beds! It was a bizarre and wonderful experience, getting to use these machines and work with film. After this job, I was hired at Nelvana working on a Carebears feature. I got this gig thru my roommate who was working in the sound department at the studio. So many of my jobs I got while starting out were thru people that I knew, and I feel so lucky to have had each one.
As I mentioned above, my interest early on was in sound and I worked in this department for about 8 years. I loved how you could change the feeling, atmosphere or viewer experience of a section by the sound you added. For example, once there was a scene that had a flying machine, and it was sucking in clouds. For the sound effects, I used a vacuum cleaner and a coffee grinder. The vacuum cleaner sound represented the pipe sucking in the clouds and the coffee grinder pulses were the moving bits inside the pipe. I really also loved working on the characters and doing my best to bring out there characteristics by adding dialogue, changing reads and working on the performance. It still amazes me how you can take a line of dialogue and split it in 2 and just nudge on part of it by a couple of frames and suddenly it just plays better. And finally, adding music was one of the aspects I enjoyed the most with sound editing, as it could add a whole other layer of emotion to a scene.
My time as a sound editor ended, as my interests began to shift towards storytelling and characters. It was then, that I knew it was time to move over to picture editing. Working in the picture editing, I fell in love with building the story structure, the pace, the comedy and of course the characters!
6. What are some the stand out productions you’ve worked during your career?
Though I feel that every show I am currently on, is the most interesting thing I have worked on, my top two would be:
- The Magic School Bus Rides Again – Having the opportunity to work on a series showcasing science, and on a show that is a reboot of a very popular 90’s classic. What is also interesting about this series is working on the drama and visuals of the comp and FX with the director. It is a lot to balance, with so many different levels of entertainment going on! A part of what we concentrate on is keeping the show close to the original, but also making it feel new and fresh, as it is made 20 years later.
- Bride of Chucky – Getting the chance to work alongside an Asian director whose sense of storytelling was totally different than what I was taught. And the pacing of a horror flick is just so much fun as you are essentially teasing your audience.
7. Who is one of your biggest influences or inspirations?
All the directors I have worked alongside! Shout out to Robin Budd and Rich Weston!
8. What have you found is the most challenging thing about working in the animation industry?
With the changing of technology comes the speed now that we are expected to work at.
9. What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career in animation?
Come on board!
10. Outside of work what is your story? (Outside interests and pastimes)
I am an artist and run an online store selling kids cushions and books of mine and my husband’s creations. I am also a stepmother to two beautiful young ladies, who I adore. I go and see art, exhibitions, and cinema. And I enjoy taking time out to hang with my family and friends.