Editors Help ‘Cosmos’ Orbit Emmy

Fox/NatGeo’s “Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey” is among the six shows vying for the Emmy for outstanding picture editing for nonfiction programming. Its editors faced the challenge of turning dense, scientific subject matter into compelling television, and said that it probably helped that the creative team came from the world of narrative filmmaking.

“That proved to be a big advantage,” says editor John Duffy. “The script was very detailed, but each episode had to be structured like a dramatic film.”

The keys were pacing and timing: “How long can you go without someone talking? When do you need more time on these visuals?’ These are important decisions.”

Cosmos” received 12 Emmy noms; editors Duffy, Michael O’Halloran and Eric Lea share the editing credit.

When they began their work, everything was clearly scripted, but much of the visual material was just placeholders. Each episode ended up using live-action re-enactments, heavy vfx sequences and animation. “We had to keep trying to find the show,” says Duffy. It was an advantage that they worked on all 13 episodes at once. “Sometimes, we would think, ‘OK, that was a great transition. Let’s do that in the other segment.’ It took quite a few tries to get it right … building climaxes and knowing when to cool down.”

The “Cosmos” team considers the 2014 episodes to be a continuation, not reboot, of the original series, which Carl Sagan hosted in 1980.

More Artisans

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Virtual reality

    Nickelodeon's 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Go Virtual at Comic-Con

    Fox/NatGeo’s “Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey” is among the six shows vying for the Emmy for outstanding picture editing for nonfiction programming. Its editors faced the challenge of turning dense, scientific subject matter into compelling television, and said that it probably helped that the creative team came from the world of narrative filmmaking. “That proved to […]

  • Destan Arslanoski Stunt Performer

    Stunt Performers Say There's Not Enough Being Done to Address Risks of the Job

    Fox/NatGeo’s “Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey” is among the six shows vying for the Emmy for outstanding picture editing for nonfiction programming. Its editors faced the challenge of turning dense, scientific subject matter into compelling television, and said that it probably helped that the creative team came from the world of narrative filmmaking. “That proved to […]

  • American Animals

    North Carolina Encourages Production by Raising Project Cap

    Fox/NatGeo’s “Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey” is among the six shows vying for the Emmy for outstanding picture editing for nonfiction programming. Its editors faced the challenge of turning dense, scientific subject matter into compelling television, and said that it probably helped that the creative team came from the world of narrative filmmaking. “That proved to […]

  • (l to r.) Director Boots Riley

    Colors, Sounds Change With Lead Character in 'Sorry to Bother You'

    Fox/NatGeo’s “Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey” is among the six shows vying for the Emmy for outstanding picture editing for nonfiction programming. Its editors faced the challenge of turning dense, scientific subject matter into compelling television, and said that it probably helped that the creative team came from the world of narrative filmmaking. “That proved to […]

  • THE HANDMAID'S TALE Composer Adam TaylorPhoto

    'The Handmaid’s Tale’ Composer Adam Taylor Takes Cue From Elisabeth Moss

    Fox/NatGeo’s “Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey” is among the six shows vying for the Emmy for outstanding picture editing for nonfiction programming. Its editors faced the challenge of turning dense, scientific subject matter into compelling television, and said that it probably helped that the creative team came from the world of narrative filmmaking. “That proved to […]

  • Summer Bay engineer, Tim Boles sorts

    'Amazing Race,' 'Deadliest Catch' Audio Teams Detail Challenges in Capturing Sound

    Fox/NatGeo’s “Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey” is among the six shows vying for the Emmy for outstanding picture editing for nonfiction programming. Its editors faced the challenge of turning dense, scientific subject matter into compelling television, and said that it probably helped that the creative team came from the world of narrative filmmaking. “That proved to […]

  • No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No

    Artificial Intelligence Could One Day Determine Which Films Get Made

    Fox/NatGeo’s “Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey” is among the six shows vying for the Emmy for outstanding picture editing for nonfiction programming. Its editors faced the challenge of turning dense, scientific subject matter into compelling television, and said that it probably helped that the creative team came from the world of narrative filmmaking. “That proved to […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content