Alkemy X

Dave Bradley has been with Alkemy X’s post team for 11 years serving as senior editor on various commercial projects, as well as directing spots himself as “Delta Bravo”. Dave enjoys cutting both comedy/dialogue and beauty spots that allow the exploration of design and visual effects. Dave has edited many notable spots for clients, including IBM, Olay, Army, EY, Mass Mutual, Miller-Lite, Verizon, Vonage, Optimum, Samsung, and TD Ameritrade. Dave’s editorial spot work has landed him several Lions, LIAAs, and Clios.

Check out our conversation on all things editorial below:

AX: Share your journey to becoming a senior editor, how did you progress to this level and what experiences have shaped your expertise?

DB: I had the opportunity to start out as the lowly runner! Getting coffee & lunch for clients, delivering things, and doing pretty much anything that producers, editors, and clients wanted. It also gave me a chance to see the ins and outs of the full post-production experience and allowed me to showcase my creative projects to coworkers and agency folks. Working up to assistant, lead assistant, and then editing, a big moment happened when I got traction on a spec spot that I directed, produced, and cut. It received some awards which turned into more attention from some of my post-production mentors, including Adam Liebowitz of the former editorial company GoRobot! New York. I made the move from Southern California to the East Coast and never looked back, editing with agencies and developing the directing side of my career as well.

AX: Which editing software and tools do you rely on, and how do these enhance your work as an editor?

DB: Like most editors today, I’m working with a number of software tools including Avid, Premiere Pro, Davinci Resolve, and most of the Adobe Suite. I find that the logistics of the upcoming project will tip my hand as to which software to use. Are we collaborating with multiple editors/assistants? Is this going to need a good amount of design and back and forth with After Effects? I find that I’m comfortable creating with different software based on the need.

AX: Can you share an example of a project in which the creative decisions you made enhanced the storytelling?

DB: I’m a big proponent of looking through all the footage, including outtakes, to find stolen moments that may help me tell more of the story. An example would be an IBM spot that I cut where I created reactions and moments between characters that were never intended. Some of the best reactions in the finished commercial were actual moments where the director was just talking to talent as the camera happened to be rolling. It was satisfying to get an award for that.

AX: What’s a recent challenge you faced and how did you successfully navigate through it?

DB: Sometimes a big challenge can happen late in the game. When cutting a project, the agency and I got word that some of the client claims, and footage to back up those claims, couldn’t be used. So, you do what you have to do, you patiently put your creative hat on, think a little outside the box, and lead the charge with the agency to turn what you have into a strong creative piece that still hits the mark… but just taking a little bit of a different direction. 

AX: How do you approach creating the right visual style for each project to reflect the client's message?

DB: I certainly like to work with the agency creatives to get a handle on the initial style that we’re thinking of. Then, as I cut and dig deeper into the edit, I’ll explore other styles, graphic techniques, or typography animation that may add to or enhance the piece. Maybe there’s a graphic trend that’s currently relevant and works with the messaging, or maybe there’s a way to create more energy or mood based on the pace and music direction. Ultimately I’m aiming to help the content be as engaging as possible. And, from experience, I’ve learned you can be subtle with it. A little bit can go a long way.

AX: What filmmakers, editors, or artists inspire your work? How do you incorporate their techniques into your own editing style?

DB: There are different ways to be inspired as we are exposed to so many ideas today, and in so many content forms. A cut scene from a video game might be as effective in making a creative mark on you as a scene from an Edgar Wright movie, or a classic Gondry music video.  Not to mention boundary-pushing design and editorial style from a multitude of YouTube creators. For me, besides these, I certainly took inspiration from directors and creatives that I cut in the room with, such as Joe Pytka, Chris Wall, Adam Jones, and Erich Joiner. What I incorporate, in my work, from all of these, and more, is generally the importance of the composition of the visual frame and the timing & rhythm of the piece. Easy to talk about, hard to get right.

AX: Is there any new tech or innovations you have adapted recently into your workflow or are interested in learning more about?

DB: I’d like to see how a project would work out with the updated Adobe Frame I.O workflow from start to finish. Certainly, we’ve been using it for client reviews and comments, but I’d like to see how the full “from camera on set to edit” works out.

AX: Which projects are you particularly proud of, and what creative elements set it apart from other projects you've worked on?

DB: Editorially I enjoy cutting spots that explore design & visual effect integration, but I’m a huge dialogue & comedy dialogue fan. I’m really proud of the recent project with Rainn Wilson for Bandai Namco’s AC6 “Mechless Mutual”. It’s got celebrity, the challenge of comedy dialogue, and the unique angle of the “one-sided” conversation, (since there are no other characters in the piece). We had a ton of good stuff to choose from, which can also be tough, as you really have to leave things on the cutting room floor when building the story that works best.

AX: Can you share your approach to collaborating with other creative professionals like directors or writers to achieve a unified vision for a project?

DB: Balancing your ideas and vision with the agency and client’s (and probably multiple layers of clients) is one of those things they don’t teach when you first start out. As editors, we trust our creative instincts and we have fresh eyes on a project that the client and creatives have been dealing with for months, but in this job you collaborate creatively. I find that patience, reading the room, and diplomacy with the team allow me to listen and identify what’s working and what the creative concerns are. Ultimately we can create what “the room” wants and a version that incorporates some of those ideas and your creative input. More times than not that alternate version is the strongest content piece.