Guided by the Light: Five Minutes with Cedric Nairn – Smith

Dami Soile

Remote Collaboration

Cedric Nairn-Smith worked his way up from production assistant on Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000) to the cutting room for numerous quality projects, landing most recently in the Marvel Cinematic Universe working on a series for Disney +. His path began as an apprentice on films like The Sum of All Fears (2002), then moving to assistant on T3: Rise of the Machines (2003) and Die Hard 4.0 (2007) eventually earning his first solo credit cutting a season of the A&E drama, Bates Motel.

In the past few years, Nairn-Smith’s career has hit a new stride. In 2019 he edited episodes of Amazon Prime’s wildly popular superhero series The Boys, followed by the mystery drama Home Before Dark for AppleTV+. Then came Lisey’s Story, the horror miniseries based on Stephen King’s novel. Directed by Pablo Larraín and produced by J. J. Abrams’ Bad Robot, the series premiered in June of 2021. Nairn-Smith joined the production about the same time that stay-at-home orders began, and used ClearView Flex as a regular component to his daily workflow.

Had you used remote video streaming technologies before?


“I had, but my experience with other kinds of remote devices wasn’t great. One we tried had a 15-second delay. The director or producer would say ‘Stop there,’ and I would stop but the playback would continue for much longer. On that project, the time delay rendered our remote tech useless.”

We had many engaging conversations and spent hours on ClearView Flex, often in different time zones. It was miraculous to get that kind of work done and never be in the same room.


What was your first experience with ClearView?


“I came on-board Lisey’s Story two weeks before the Covid shut down as one of four editors on the show. At the suggestion of Bad Robot, we were all able to carry on working from home with ClearView Flex. Having the box at home with the media is a key distinction. On other projects, I couldn’t work with streaming devices from home along with the media, and on this project, it made for a seamless workflow.”


“I cut four episodes, entirely remotely. In fact, I have never met Pablo. He was at his home or in New York or in Germany doing additional photography. It didn’t matter. We had many engaging conversations and spent hours on ClearView Flex, often in different time zones. It was miraculous to get that kind of work done and never be in the same room.”

Cedric Nairn Smith

How are you using ClearView on the project you’re working on for Marvel?


“Our VFX reviews are driven by ClearView Flex , and I can work from home or in the office.  Marvel is adamant about adherence to Covid-safety protocols, so even when I’m on the lot I work isolated in my cubicle. But I’m far from isolated from the production since I use ClearView Flex to participate in VFX reviews. It makes the entire process much more efficient and intuitive in terms of checking shots and iterating versions.”


Was using ClearView your suggestion or at the initiation of Marvel?

“It was already in place. During an interview for the project, a post executive said, ‘Oh we love ClearView Flex. It’s getting to the point that one day our editors will sign their start 

paperwork and also be handed a ClearView Flex box all at once. Welcome to the team!’ That’s what ClearView Flex is becoming – a de facto standard.”

“That’s what ClearView is becoming – a de facto standard.”


Anything to be improved?


“As we are using Zoom to communicate verbally alongside ClearView Flex, it can become a bit of a dance of muting my Zoom whenever I am playing back the picture on ClearView Flex. If there was a way to press play on ClearView Flex and automatically mute the Zoom that would be my number one suggestion. Other than that comment, the playback of sound and picture is great, it all works reliably, and it is very easy to send someone an email link, invite them to join the session and we’re off to the races!’


How do you see remote tools being used going forward?

“I think it’s the new norm. With or without the pandemic, ClearView Flex simply allows for a much smother playback during live sessions. You can have crew off site or in another country and you can still participate. It’s a no-brainer really, a click on the ClearView Flex link and you can join a session.”


What do you personally hope for from future work?

“Since I started out as film assistant, I’ll never take for granted the work I am able to do. My North Star is to work on material that is more concerned with personal relationships or character arcs than blowing things up. That’s not to say that I always get that, but it’s what I strive for.

Hopefully, I’m lucky enough to continue to work with directors and on scripts that are positive rather than dark and that tell us something about the human condition. That are uplifting. That’s still my guiding light.”

Dami Soile
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