[Editor’s note: The following post contains spoilers for “Avengers: Endgame.”]
Making “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame” was a mammoth task for directors Anthony and Joe Russo, but it was even more of a massive undertaking for editors Jeffrey Ford and Matthew Schmidt. The two editors spent two years editing the Marvel Cinematic Universe tentpoles back to back, and they recently revealed to Business Insider that in order to pull off both films they had to figure out what to do with 900 hours of shot footage.
“It was a massive amount of footage with three, sometimes four units working every day pumping out material,” Ford said. “And I’m not even including the motion-capture footage. But if you do a bit at a time you can get through it.”
In order to get both films done, the editing duo had to split up the duties on “Infinity War” and “Endgame.” The Russo brothers shot both movies back to back and the editing team cut together as much as possible in real time. While Ford was editing together “Infinity War” and overseeing the final stages of post-production, Schmidt assembled the first cut of “Endgame” while it was being filmed.
“We showed them a version of ‘Endgame’ [within] about a week, week-and-a-half of principal photography being done,” Schmidt said.
“We were cutting every day, we were refining, we were figuring out what we were going to reshoot, figuring out what we had to finish,” Ford said about the process. “It was a constant state of preproduction, production, and post-production all at the same time for almost a year straight. And then when we finished that year of insanity, we went right into an absolutely hellish, almost impossible post production period that lasted from January to April when we delivered ‘Infinity War,’ and that was one of the most intense periods of filmmaking I ever experienced, and I have worked on some crazy movies.”
Ford and Schmidt also revealed some parts of “Endgame” that changed in the editing room. One of the big decisions the editors were involved in was figuring out where the Avengers show up during the Battle of New York when they travel back in time. Ford said they played with having the superheroes arrive in the past when Hulk grabs Loki and smashes him around. A different entry point was written into the script.
“The script had us showing up right when Tony flies through the Leviathan and blows it up from the inside,” Ford said. “But when we screened it for audiences in test screenings we realized it took a few minutes for them to acclimate themselves. It wasn’t landing the way we wanted. So we tried other versions.”
Ultimately the iconic shot from “The Avengers” of the main superheroes preparing for battle as the camera rotates in a circle around them won out. “It was the cleanest and most epic transition back into ‘Avengers 1,'” Ford said.
“Avengers: Endgame” is now playing in theaters nationwide.