Lightworks: The Secret Editing Ingredient For Killers of the Flower Moon

By David Winter
Nov 7, 2023
2 minute read

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The buzz around Martin Scorsese's latest cinematic masterpiece, 'Killers of the Flower Moon,' is electric! But have you ever wondered how such an intricate film is finely tuned in the editing room? The answer: the editing genius of Thelma Schoonmaker and her beloved NLE Lightworks

In this case study, Matt Sandford, Lightworks Product Manager, provides some in-depth insights into how high-end film editors drive their editing software and what toolsets an editor of Thelma’s calibre values. Buckle up because we're pulling back the curtain!

Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, and Lily Gladstone, on set with director Martin Scorsese,

The Big Question: Why Do Hollywood-level Editors Choose Lightworks?

"Thelma is old school. She used to cut features on a Steenbeck many years ago, and as such, when moving to non-linear systems, she needed something that behaved similarly. The reason she and others use Lightworks, aside from its incredible technical depth, is based on the Lightworks Console. A dedicated piece of hardware around which the software was built. It’s a tactile device that replicated the Steenbeck control mechanism and allowed film editors to switch easily over to a non-linear system.

"Martin [Scorsese] even has his own replica console connected to Thelma’s suite so that when he is watching sequences back with her, he can stop or reverse the footage to where he wants/needs without asking her. When spending 10-12 hours in the editing suite a day, something that makes the process faster and easier is always welcomed."

Note: The Lightworks console is no longer in active production in 2023, as most prosumer editors prefer to use their more familiar setup of a keyboard and mouse. But for those who have experienced the console in action and for top-tier editors like Thelma, it’s nearly impossible to go back to non-console editing. 

Focusing on the Craft: What Makes Lightworks an 'Eyes-Up' Editing System?

"Lightworks is an eyes-up editing system when combined with the console. This means the eye is on the output monitor and not the timeline, mouse or keyboard. This allows Thelma to work extremely quickly in assemblies and to jump between bins of media and get footage arranged to her liking in a tiles layout, each line separated by shot and each row showing the multiple takes of that shot."

The Metadata Advantage: How Lightworks Streamlines the Editing Workflow

"Editing Assistants love the time-saving aspects of the application, where they can create new sequences from the master sequence purely based on metadata. For example, if they want to deliver the sequence Thelma has cut to show the SFX used in the sequence, they can open the search panel, enter the metadata query and generate a sequence from the results.

"Those results will show only the segments that match those criteria within the sequence, with everything else removed. These sequences are then exported to AAF for delivery to the relevant departments for review. This can be done for multiple metadata queries, allowing for an afternoon's work in recreating the sequence with just the bits required to be done in a matter of seconds."

Your Turn to Shine: Why Lightworks is Your Path to Hollywood-level Editing

To sum up Matt Sandford's insights—Lightworks isn't just software; it's a platform built for the needs of every editor, from newbies to the Thelma Schoonmakers of the world.

Are You Ready to Become the Next Thelma Schoonmaker? Dive into Lightworks Today! Try it for Free or Go Pro

We're not just selling software; we're here to make you a better video editor. Lightworks is your stepping stone to cinematic greatness. Get cracking, people!