July 7, 2015

Edit Timelapse: Watch as Kendrick Lamar's Surreal New Music Video Is Cut from Scratch

Kendrick Lamar 'Alright' Edit Timelapse
Ah, the timeline timelapse. What better way to condense days, weeks, months of grueling, tedious work into 2 minutes of fast-paced editing goodness.

For the past week, Kendrick Lamar's latest music video has been taking the internet by storm, and for good reason. For starters, it provides a timely response to the culture of police brutality that has spewed to the surface of popular awareness in the past year. From an artistic perspective, however, the video itself is a masterpiece. Shot in stunning high-contrast black and white by cinematographers Rob Witt and Corey Jennings, and directed by rising star director Colin Tilley, the music video for Kendrick Lamar's "Alright", off the album To Pimp a Butterfly, is sure to stick in your mind, regardless of how you feel about the song.

Here's the video. Just as a heads up, it's got some harsh language.

Now, here's the timelapse of the edit, which was done by LA editor Vinnie Hobbs, and which took three days. Some harsh language in this piece as well.

There's an interesting approach to editing here -- one that I've never seen before -- and that's using two timelines on top of one another in order to build the edit. One of the timelines is, of course, the master timeline where the project is being built and the audio and visual effects are being compiled. The other is simply labelled "SELECTS", which makes me think that it's either a rough cut or just a timeline of prime shots that the director or client has produced to help guide the editor. Either way, it's a neat way to work, and depending on how it's done, it could be a more efficient way to get pre-selected clips into the final timeline.

Have you guys ever worked with two timelines in this manner? Let us know down in the comments!      

Your Comment

50 Comments

I usually select my best shots (for music videos) and place it to the right of the Master timeline, so I must do lateral scroll to access them. But I'll soon try this because I think it will help me a lot.

July 7, 2015 at 5:35PM

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Samuel Navarro
Cinematographer
81

I usually do that for shorter projects, but for longer narrative scenes, I'll do the stacked timelines.

July 8, 2015 at 1:33AM

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Andy Zou
Producer
Filmmaker / Creative Director

So crazy to see someone else do that SELECTS thing. I have one timeline usually called BEST where i rough edit the best takes and shots.

July 7, 2015 at 5:36PM

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BEST is also what I do as well - great way to organize all the best shots/moments in one timeline ain't it :)

July 7, 2015 at 6:01PM

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Julian Lomega
Cinematographer/Editor
81

I'm pretty sure Selects is the industry term, they used it in a Avid class I took

July 10, 2015 at 6:17AM, Edited July 10, 6:17AM

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Dan Roy
Editor and Photographer
84

I just recently edited using the "stacked" timelines like in the video shown above. Instead of using one for "prime/selected" shots though, I used it to carry over similar assets from one edit to the next in order to keep a series of videos looking similar without having to do too much switching. It works well as long as you have a large enough monitor to handle it (I have one monitor dedicated to only my timeline so it works nicely). I really enjoy these types of timeline timelapses though, I always feel like I can glean something from them!

July 7, 2015 at 5:37PM, Edited July 7, 5:37PM

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Mitch Netzer
Interactive Communications Specialist
74

Yes i do ! at the first, i think in the "master" timeline there is only the playbacks shots with lipsync. The other timeline is the selection of best moments of illustrations shots, he selects and put some elements from here to the top of the master timeline, to finally have his masterpiece.
Whatever, I really like working this way !
#dontspeakenglishverywell #sofrench

July 7, 2015 at 5:48PM

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Johan Girard
Director
74

I use the same method, but with tabs instead of stacking the timelines. Make one Untitled timeline of selects, then another with the actual cut called MAIN.

I used to edit things shot-by-shot from the bin (like a wanker). Now I enjoy picking selects while planning out key moments before I start hashing out the MAIN timeline.

July 7, 2015 at 5:48PM, Edited July 7, 5:51PM

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Miguel Barbosa
Director & Editor
74

I do the same thing with all films I edit, and I also call it "select". But never thought of keeping both time lines open, it looks like a good idea.

July 7, 2015 at 5:52PM

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Guilherme Peralta
Filmmaker
74

This is called the Pancake Timeline detailed nicely here! http://vashivisuals.com/adobe-cs6-5-editing-tips-for-music-videos/

July 7, 2015 at 6:12PM

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I learned about this trick a couple years ago from Vashi Nedomansky of vashivisuals.com

He calls it "The Pancake Timeline"

July 7, 2015 at 6:14PM

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I cut like this all the time. I put all my shots in one timeline and pull selects by moving the takes and bits I want up to another track. Then I will make a select timeline that I edit from to my sequence timeline. I started cutting 35mm film on a flat bed, so I like having all my footage laid out in a row. Once its in the timeline its rare that I ever go back to the footage bin. I also like being able to just drag the clips from the select sequence to my edit sequence. Its a very fast and efficient way to work

July 7, 2015 at 7:43PM

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Ron Sussman
Director/Editor
96

From the looks of it, Premiere didn't crash even once! :) In all seriousness, this is an awesome approach to constructing an efficient timeline - I think Larry Jordan also covers this in some of his tutorials. 3 day turnaround on that edit is also pretty darn impressive!

July 7, 2015 at 7:59PM

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Michael Kern
Freelance Videographer
102

Colin Tilley is more then a rising star. He's the most successful music video director in the business. This guy has won several awards of the highest caliber for several years. But anyways the editing style is the same thing I do and collecting all the best footage keeps you organized.

July 7, 2015 at 9:08PM

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Brad Watts
Writer/Director/DP
237

why?

July 8, 2015 at 9:28PM

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Don't edit like this, it slows you the fuck down.

July 7, 2015 at 11:04PM, Edited July 7, 11:12PM

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I always edit like that...

July 7, 2015 at 11:24PM

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Frank Andersson
Producer / Photographer / Editor / VFX artist
81

Well each to their own, its a creative process... but why create selects, then a timeline, then drag and drop, when you can just organize your project menu, In/out - drop from source and edit each cut point consciously. It's messy man, and creates a tendency to edit in order of what was shot.

July 8, 2015 at 12:19AM, Edited July 8, 12:26AM

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Kinda remembers me the way Novacut works, main timeline and a cutting area for you to assemble and make different versions, compare, etc before moving them to the master cut.

July 8, 2015 at 1:15AM

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Fernando Henrique de Sousa
CEO, Evil Genius, Steadycam, editor & jack of all trades
192

I do this in Avid all the time. It's great bc you can load up your selects sequence in the left screen and cut in chunks of shots straight into your timeline.

July 8, 2015 at 2:24AM, Edited July 8, 2:24AM

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I just edited my latest project with this layout, for the second time. I find that it is a much quicker and more efficient way of editing (for me, that is).

July 8, 2015 at 2:56AM, Edited July 8, 2:56AM

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Sebi Schmidt
Director
91

Nearly everyone I know edits like this. In fact sometimes they have more than 2 timelines.

July 8, 2015 at 2:58AM

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Saurav Nag
Director
101

I do like the principle of this editing technique, but I have a variation that I employ in Premiere using Nesting and Labels.
1. I take the raw takes and load them into their own timeline. In a really short form work this might constitute a single sequence (e.g. EDITS). No trimming, just reducing footage consisting of many raw takes into one master clip. In a more complex work, maybe a selection of these master clips according to theme or whatever.
2. I use the labelling feature to go through and make my selections. I can colour code this to reflect certain themes as well as add in some basic comments. The duration of the label doesn't have to be perfect, but works as a guide to how I originally felt about the in and out points of the individual shot as I was working through it.
3. When I've completed this labelling step, I simply close the sequence in the timeline, go to the project panel and drag that sequence into the source monitor. All the labels are displayed (including my comments), so what I have is virtually a single master clip that has my editing notes reflected as labels - colours and comments.
4. I'll start navigating back and forth through this sequence, selecting in/out points, and then add these clips to my MASTER sequence. For a longer form project I'll continue doing this with however many nested/labelled sequences I think is necessary.
The advantages of this over a pancaked approach?
Well for one thing I haven't trimmed away any raw footage - all I've done is make visible selections that can be very easily altered if necessary.
Secondly I don't have to contend with multiple timeline spaces - just the most simple source-monitor-to-program-monitor based editing flow. The labels are the visual guides I require and nothing more. Plus I can always include my initial little ideas when doing the comments (e.g. "reverse and flip this, and combine with duck c/u"), which can be difficult to remember late in a project.
This is just my opinion however, and whatever works is great. I can see that some people might enjoy the visual nature of pancaked timelines. For me, using labelled nested sequences just seems to work more solidly.
I certainly do agree with the principal of doing some pre-selects as part of the editing process. What I would be wary of is mentally throwing away material that, at first glance, may not have seemed important. Unavoidable sometimes I guess. I do sometimes have special labels for shots that are somehow interesting yet imperfect, and this can help you late in a project if you've somehow reached a roadblock. Enjoyed the video, and thanks very much Vinnie for sharing some of your excellent work.

July 8, 2015 at 4:20AM

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I've been editing this way for a while. Learned the idea at Fxphd and then came up with this method: http://youtu.be/yn1-aCP715U

July 8, 2015 at 7:35AM, Edited July 8, 7:35AM

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Peter Normandia
Writer / Director / Editor
84

Being a fcpx user, this seems to me like an extremely unpractical way trying to make premiere work like fcpx...

July 8, 2015 at 9:29AM, Edited July 8, 9:35AM

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Phil
93

EXACTLY. Well said.

July 8, 2015 at 2:38PM

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EXACTLY! Well said.

July 8, 2015 at 2:38PM, Edited July 8, 2:39PM

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Yup, also dragging and dropping clips between timelines constantly is just painful.

July 10, 2015 at 4:06PM

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Being ignorant enough to not grasp why needing a feature like that is hilariously stupid is even more painful. LOL

Needing that nonsense speaks VOLUMES of PPros completely inferior usability! Bravo.

July 29, 2016 at 10:58AM, Edited July 29, 10:58AM

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I'm glad others haven't seen the dual timeline before because now that I've seen it, it kinda seems like the obvious way to work now.

Like a lot of other editors, I make my selects of moments for a scene and leave them to the right and start building on the left, but this is much better...

July 8, 2015 at 10:47AM

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Fahnon Bennett
Director/DP
158

Every facility I've ever worked at works this way; creating Selects bins and sequences. And then further refining selections by bumping the best takes to V2 and the director/client choices to V3. In fact, several of the editorial houses I work at rejected FCP X because it's single timeline restriction inhibits this workflow. However, I've never seen anyone stack them vertically before. That is genius!

July 8, 2015 at 11:56AM

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Anthony Dalesandro
Director/Editor
81

Wow I just always switched tabs. This definitely makes things easier.

July 8, 2015 at 1:05PM, Edited July 8, 1:16PM

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Drew Veaux
Film Editor
74

Pancake editing is especially good for music videos with no timecode. I create a new timeline for every new perspective with the whole track attached. If I want to move a clip I like to the main timeline I can just drag it with the track so it syncs perfectly. Then I erase the track.

July 8, 2015 at 1:24PM, Edited July 8, 1:24PM

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Jan Becker
DP, Director, Producer
244

Yeah. That's the kind of nonsense you're reduced to if you're not using Final Cut Pro X. This could have been done in HALF the time. STACKED timelines and all that pushing' and shoving', gap fillin' is painful to watch even in time-lapse. Wow. Welcome to the 90's. They called and want their NLE back.

July 8, 2015 at 2:37PM

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Yes! Willing to bet you're actually a professional editor. Thank you.

July 10, 2015 at 4:08PM, Edited July 10, 4:08PM

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Editing with stacked timelines has made my life so much easier, and I believe it saves a lot of time as well when your're editing at least 40 hours a week like I do. In stead of going to another tab, find your clip, copy, go back to your master tab, paste it and then put it in the right place, you can simply find your clip in the stacked timeline and click and drag it to you master which is stacked above or beneath. Great thing about this is you skip the whole copy and paste progress as well as going into another tab. I also use a lot of markers in my spotted timeline so I can quickly see what is there. I highly recommend all editors to work like this!

July 8, 2015 at 2:43PM, Edited July 8, 2:43PM

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Yurian Gomez Fernandez
Video editor / Cameraman
74

I use tabs to toggle between timelines : "selects" (which is often sort of a buttcut), "master" and sometimes "rejects".
I started working like that when technology changed and I no longer needed to do the "log and capture/digitize" step

July 8, 2015 at 5:47PM

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Watching the clip was far more interesting than the timelapse. It's a great music video but I could have got about as much info from a single still image of his panel layout than that 2min video.

July 8, 2015 at 7:05PM, Edited July 8, 7:05PM

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matt
543

Just watched it for playback once? Only one export? I call shenanigans, the crashes were edited out. Haha, very cool video. I want someone to download it, slow it down, and analyze exactly what was going on. I'm really curious about all of the stacked clips that appear to be duplicates. What's going on here?

July 8, 2015 at 8:15PM

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Garrett Kafchinski
Editor, Ronin Op, DP
1

I too use this kind of workflow in my edits - editing interviews like this is also a great approach. I use a MASTER sequence in its own window and then I have the BEST sequence for interview lines and BEST B for best B-roll material to fill in the gaps and cuts. These two BEST sequences are in the same window and I switch between them. I have found this method to be superior to the single timeline window edit workflow.

July 9, 2015 at 3:24AM, Edited July 9, 3:24AM

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Joonas Nieminen
Cinematographer and editor
161

Duel timelines ok to work with, I prefer just loading my selects or string timeline into my source viewer on the left. Or the short cut shift + 3 to toggle 2 timelines works ok..

I made a time laps during the first pass for a performance music video if anyone want to see it -
https://vimeo.com/125891922

Promo Here - https://vimeo.com/126893583

I was thinking of doing various timelaps videos for FCP, FCPX, Avid and Premiere..
Just to show the difference.

July 9, 2015 at 8:02AM

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Greg
Editor / Assistant Editor
116

I edit a lot of corporate documentaries and find myself doing something similar. I don't do stacked timelines (though now I might) but I create sequences of the best clips of each person I interview. Then I worry about putting those together, laying down b-roll and making it flow. It makes everything way simpler because you don't have to scroll through all the extra talking or rambling that you know you aren't going to use. My clients also like it because I can start giving them a rough idea of what I am going for really quickly. I am glad to see other people use this same technique.

July 9, 2015 at 12:30PM

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jacob
111

Ive been working like this for 2 years now. (with some tweaks)

Its actually the only way to get NLEs to get better performance and have every scene clip in your hand as fast as possible.

In feature films, I put one more time line "TOTALS" in chronological order (scene, shot, take) and from there, raise up to the 2nd Video row, the selected parts, Copy this to a new timeline and get some trimming and adjustments done

From there I start to make MAKETS (a kind of final editing) that may vary in some minor aspects from one to another.

I think this way is the best way to work. You access all clips in a blink of an eye. And go to diferent stages of the editing process (because sometimes you F*»k something along the way and it is damn easy to troubleshoot.

PS- It is easier for Directors to access and mess around with their ideas (some directors like to have a cut of their own)

You should give it a try. It has been my "secret souce" to keep everyone happy and work to go as fast and as enjoyble as possible!

July 9, 2015 at 5:21PM, Edited July 9, 5:21PM

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I just setup my workspace like this. Definitely trying it out on my next edit. I have used similar methods before by having separate timelines with my best clips, but I've never had them both up at once. Instead I would copy and past from one to the other. This seems way more efficient!

July 9, 2015 at 7:46PM, Edited July 9, 7:46PM

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Taylor Chase
Videographer / Editor
147

I've been editing with stacked timelines since my final cut days. Works well in some post situations. Nothing new.

July 10, 2015 at 8:45PM, Edited July 10, 8:45PM

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Very interesting technique, I might try it on my next edit. It makes sense though, having all of your key shots in a timeline and use the master to add fluff.

July 13, 2015 at 3:17PM, Edited July 13, 3:17PM

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Adan Gonzalez
Cinematographer/ Editor
88

What type of software did y'all use to capture these premiere time lapses?

July 13, 2015 at 5:34PM

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Cody Eldridge
Lead Editor
100

probably ScreenFlow

July 25, 2015 at 9:23AM

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Facundo Rodrigo Campos
Wearer of Multiple Hats
300

Very nice... I did a timeless lately on my latest edit for a music video - and I used a different approach.
What do you think: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-KngnQtYhk

July 15, 2015 at 5:33AM

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Malte Greis
Filmeditor
72

I've been doing dual timeline editing for about a year and a half now and I won't go back.

I do it slightly differently though in that I compile all the master shots in one timeline and use the timecode to lock in, go through the video tracks, selecting which take is the best for the timecode, then paste it into the master timeline.

July 25, 2015 at 9:22AM

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Facundo Rodrigo Campos
Wearer of Multiple Hats
300

this way of editing works well when you get no script, storyboard, shot list or direction. I have gone through many edits were a hard drive arrives with footage and nothing else and I need to create a video from what is given. For me I like to drop all footage into one timeline as my "assemble seq". If there are multiple cameras I create a sequence for each camera. Then go through each sequence and cut all the clips down and move them to the second video track. Those are my selects ready to me moved over to my master sequence. For me its faster to scrub through a sequence and grab a shot I need vs searching through the project window, pulling it up in the source window, adding my in's and out's marks and dragging the selected area into my timeline.

July 27, 2015 at 2:38AM, Edited July 27, 2:38AM

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Bert Beltran
Filmmaker | Editor | Motion Graphics | Drone Op
225