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EDITING WORKFLOW SERIES: Ep. 04 - The David Fincher Editing Technique (The Pancake Timeline)



Welcome back to our Editing Workflow Series!

In the last episode, we covered how we set up our Premiere projects in a way that keeps things organized and mimics our hard drive folder structure from Episode 1. Now we're moving onto the next step.

In this installment, we'll be showing you how to edit your Premiere Pro project using the Pancake Timeline technique that David Fincher's editing team uses for his films.

We picked up this technique from Vashi Nedomansky of Vashi Visuals in one of his articles from 2013 about "How to Edit a Music Video in Adobe," which he further goes into in his blog post called "The Pancake Timeline" which has examples and also his Premiere Pro template. Ours is a little different, but if you like his, download his.

In the article, he mentions how he discovered that Oscar-winning editors Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall of "The Social Network" were utilizing the stacked timelines in their post-production workflow, creating a super-efficient editing process.

Vashi has now had the chance to work under Kirk Baxter on projects like "Gone Girl" and "House of Cards." He has also worked as an editorial consultant for films like "Deadpool." You should really check out more of his tips and tricks on his website at

The Pancake Timeline is basically just a way of stacking your timelines on top of each other. The top timeline being your selects and the bottom timeline usually being your master edit.

But before we get into the Pancake Timeline technique, let's talk about selects. As editors, it's our job to look through all of the footage given to us for any project, but it can be hard to keep track of what's usable and what's not when it gets buried in the editing process.

Selects are basically any usable material from the raw footage that could be used in the edit, and I mean any usable material. There could be something that you'll really want later that happens even before the slate clap and you just want to make sure that you're grabbing every little piece that's usable.