Creating the Trippy State of Amazon Prime ‘Bliss’

This post was written by Meagan Keane and originally appeared on the Adobe Blog.

How do you approach the processing of an otherworldly story?

Bliss with Owen Wilson and Salma Hayek takes the audience on an exciting journey that explores topics such as love, addiction and – as the title of the film suggests – the meaning of bliss.

Part drama, part science fiction, the filmmakers created a visually stunning piece despite faced behind-the-scenes challenges when production had to be temporarily suspended due to COVID-19.

Editor Troy Takaki walks us through his editing process and shares his advice for budding filmmakers below.

How and where did you first learn to work?

I went to San Francisco state for a journalism degree and took a general education course called Super 8 Filmmaking. The first time I edited was a Super 8 film with a tiny, tiny splicer. Eventually I switched my major to film production and learned to edit 16mm on flatbeds and VHS on tape to tape.

How do you start a project / set up your workspace?

I always start from scratch – new settings every time. I create folders for newspapers, scenes, cuts, etc. and store projects in them. Using the new version with a shared master project was very helpful for this.

As for my office work area, I try to decorate it as early as possible. I want pictures of my family on my desk and on the walls.

Tell us about a favorite scene or moment from this project and why you notice it.

My favorite scene in Bliss is the scene at the end where Greg and Isabel are surrounded by the police. It’s a long, complicated scene. The two characters go through a variety of emotions and changes.

We also played around with the moment the daughter arrives on the scene. She arrives much earlier in the script and when she calls them they don’t hear her at all. During the editing process, the audience wanted more interaction between the daughter and Greg. We have postponed the time she arrives and the time she later arrives for the ferry. Then we manipulated the footage so that it appeared that when she called, she’d hear her. In the final version, Isabel decides to let Greg stay in the ugly world.

It’s fun when you can change a scene by editing it.

Recognition: Amazon Prime

What specific post-production challenges did you face that were unique to your project? How did you solve it?

The most unique problem was dealing with COVID-19. When we shut down in February, we copied everything to an external drive. Three months later, when we started again, we cloned this drive. I was in LA and my editorial assistant was in New York. In the end, we only managed projects back and forth Dropbox. It worked great.

What Adobe tools did you use for this project and why did you originally choose them? Why were you the best choice for this project?

We keep cutting Premiere Pro Using a new build where we could have a master project together. That worked out great for us. We used a nexus to keep the media in Harbor. It was the first time I’ve used shared drives Premiere Pro and was very pleased with how well it worked. We also used After Effects and Photoshop.

It was very convenient to be able to stay in the Adobe world for all of our work.

What do you like about Premiere Pro and / or any of the other tools you use?

When we used After Effects With Premiere Pro, assistant editor Jim Chaliz often did the work right in the timeline. I thought that was super cool. The director would also use After Effects to create visual effects, but use After Effects as a standalone program and then send us exports. Both ways worked.

What’s your hidden gem / favorite workflow? Adobe Creative Cloud?

There might be one we used and I didn’t even know it was a hack. That’s one of the great things about Adobe. Every workflow is slightly different. The programs are very flexible. Do I import clips or drag them into a project? It’s up to the editor. Does my Assistant Editor enter After Effects right on the timeline, or does it use After Effects and then import the VFX clip? We did both.

Who is your creative inspiration and why?

All of the people I look after are my creative inspirations. Hanging out and working with young editors who are fun, creative, hardworking people inspires me. I often work on side projects with my friends and mentees. Four friends and I are about to start a documentary about high-speed downhill skateboarding.

What was the hardest part of your career and how did you get over it? What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers or content creators?

There have been two times in my career that I have had problems. The first was the beginning. I didn’t know anyone in Hollywood and it was very difficult for me to get my first job. The second time I started editing features after editing television for years. Switching from one medium to another is difficult. You don’t know a lot of people in the new medium and that’s why it is difficult to get jobs.

I struggled through these times. However, I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I always tell people that the hardest part is getting the first few jobs. Once you have a few under your belt (and do a fantastic job) it gets easier.

Share a photo of your workplace. What do you like best about your work area and why?

This is a picture of my new work-from-home office.

Recognition: Troy Tataki

I have two processing stations. One for my film and one for a documentary that I’m editing on the side. I feel very creative in it. I edit. I play bass. I record and edit music with PreSonus’ Studio One. I listen to records. I love it.

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