At the Oscars with Michael Krulik, Avid Product Marketing & Video Product Evangelist
I had the honor of being backstage at the 2023 Academy Awards® and as you can imagine, it was a very surreal and phenomenal experience. Host Jimmy Kimmel, celebrity presenters, and winners walked back and forth right by me as I would say, “Hello,” or “Congratulations.” #thedresseswerestunning. When I congratulated Jamie Lee Curtis on her Best Supporting Actress win, she was so excited and exclaimed, “Thank you!”
I was there to support the Avid Media Composer system that was featured onstage during the film editing Oscar® category presented by Sigourney Weaver and Zoe Saldana, stars of Avatar: The Way of Water. During that segment, viewers saw a woman on the left sitting at an original Moviola editing machine and a woman on the right running a modern Media Composer editing system on the main stage behind the two actresses.
Award-winning Editor Taylor Joy Mason operates Avid Media Composer onstage at the Academy Awards®.
Adding to the significance and authenticity of the moment, the woman seated at the Media Composer system was an actual assistant editor, Taylor Joy Mason, who worked on Dune, the 2022 Oscar® winner for film editing. Taylor recently won an ACE Eddie Award for her work on A Black Lady Sketch Show. Thanks to Joe Walker, ACE (Dune), for suggesting Taylor for the Oscars® gig. Taylor actually moved through the Media Composer user interface during the segment.
Avid and Oscar®
Avid is no stranger to the Academy Awards®. Most of the films nominated for Oscars® are edited using Avid Media Composer, this year included. Nine out of the 10 nominees for Best Picture were edited with Media Composer and four out of the five nominees for Best Film Editing used Media Composer, including Top Gun: Maverick , edited by Eddie Hamilton, ACE, whose work previously earned him an ACE Eddie Award for Best Edited Dramatic Feature Film in addition to a BAFTA nomination.
Other nominees included Banshees of Inisherin (Mikkel E.G. Nielsen, ACE); Elvis (Matt Villa and Johnathan Redmond); and Tár (Monika Willi). Listen to many of the film editing nominees talk about their films and the craft of editing on The Rough Cut podcast, hosted by Matt Feury, Avid’s Senior Director of Artist Relations.
And, Avid has actually won two Oscars® of its own for digital film editing. But never before in the 95-year history of the Oscars®, has Avid actually been featured onstage.
To have this opportunity to highlight Avid was huge. Everyone from the company, past and present, can take pride in seeing Avid, the only system showcased onstage at the Oscars®.Tim Claman, Avid GM and SVP, Video & Media Solutions, said it perfectly in an all-Avid email the day after the broadcast:
Given Avid’s longevity in this business there is hardly ever a dull moment for us, but it certainly is an uncommon privilege to have our invention symbolize the editing community during the Oscars®.
Tim has an eagle eye. He spotted another exciting Avid moment in the telecast. There was a brief glimpse of Pro Tools during the Best Original Score clips. Tim was able to snap this quick photo.
Sharp-eyed Tim Claman, Avid GM and SVP, snapped this pic of Avid Pro Tools onscreen during the Best Original Score Oscar ® presentation.
How the whole Avid Oscars® experience came about
The Academy wanted to feature certain award categories that had been shut out of last year’s broadcast. After receiving criticism for the decision, the awards for sound, costume design, and film editing, among others, were reinstated and highlighted in this year’s telecast. The Oscars® production team contacted Avid for a Media Composer system that an extra would be assigned to sit at and pretend to operate but it would actually just play a video. I explained that it’s a little more complicated than that if they want someone to look like they’re editing. I offered to bring a system, set it up, be at rehearsals, and run it. They were waiting for clearance from Warner Brothers to show Dune during the segment. I suggested contacting Joe Walker, the Dune editor who won the Oscar® last year and they said, “Do you know him?” I said, “I do.” Due to Joe’s schedule, he was not available, but he had the great idea to ask his assistant on Dune, Taylor Joy Mason, to take the editing seat onstage.
Taylor was thrilled to do it. She said, “What an amazing time. I just received an Eddie Award and next weekend I will be onstage at the Oscars®!”
The nitty gritty prep
Taylor and I spent several days at rehearsals with Taylor getting the full talent treatment including wardrobe, hair and makeup, while I sat backstage making sure the Media Composer system was powered and working.
A side note: The first table the production crew provided for the Avid didn’t fit the three monitors. They went to IKEA to buy a table big enough for the system. It looked much better with the updated desk.
The day of the broadcast I was at the Dolby Theatre®, in Hollywood, at 9 a.m. for another run-through. As I was prepping the system, I suddenly heard a performance begin. I looked up to see Lady Gaga onstage for rehearsal and she was amazing. She wasn’t on the original program, so it was a surprise to see her. Later I headed to the parking garage to change into my tuxedo—everyone backstage had to wear one, even the production crew—and put everything into my car.
The film editing category wasn’t until nearly the end of the program. I sat on the platform backstage for the entire show as well as about five rehearsals where we had a walk-through and blocking with every nuance, every camera movement, carefully timed. I watched Jimmy Kimmel parachute onto the stage and heard his jokes four times. And still, each delivery was funnier than the next. There were extras in the audience for the rehearsals to make it all realistic.
Being backstage during the actual show was an amazing experience. The LED graphics used on the walls and the staging are beautiful, hearing Lady Gaga and Rhianna sing and the audience cheering, having the celebrities presenting walking a foot past me in beautiful gowns, was incredible. If you watched the performance of RRR’s Oscar® -winning Naatu Naatu, you know the energy that took over the entire theater. To be there in person made it even more electrifying. The production and crew deserve a huge amount of credit. This is a well-choreographed machine after many rehearsals, and it goes off flawlessly. The backstage crew told me that they love what they do.
It’s a wrap
I’m thankful to work for Avid and have this type of opportunity to represent Avid at the Oscars®. I hope that everyone who has ever worked for Avid, past and present, is proud to see the product of their labor onstage and to see people excited about it.
I’m so glad the Academy honored editors in this way. I love editors and the work you all do to create such amazing films, TV shows, documentaries, and other content. There are many tools out there, but we thank all of the editors, assistants, VFX artists, and content creators that use Media Composer.
If you missed the live telecast, you can access the replay on streaming services to see the Media Composer and Pro Tools star turns during the Academy Awards®. Fast-forward to hour three for the film editing segment.
*Academy Award, Academy Awards, Oscar, and Oscars are trademarks or service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Dolby Theatre is a registered trademark of Dolby Laboratories.