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Editors of NatGeo’s Einstein Series ‘Genius’ Play with the Fluidity of Time

National Geographic’s 10-part scripted series Genius tells the story of Albert Einstein’s work and life, shifting back and forth between multiple timelines to depict him as a young and older man (played by Johnny Flynn and Geoffrey Rush, respectively).

The show’s three editors–James Wilcox, J. Kathleen Gibson, and Debby Germino–speak to CineMontage about cutting the show.

“From a physics approach, time is fluid, of course,” says Gibson. “So we move back and forth and around in time, not always in a linear way. But we tell it in a way that people can follow. Sometimes, we have chyrons giving a date or a place. But we also have certain looks for certain periods. What would be present day in the show has a more realistic look; the colors are not saturated in terms of being dense, but just sort of real. If we go to a flashback in an earlier time period, it’s desaturated, with red coming through a little bit more. But everything else is kind of combination of a sepia, gray, black and white look — a visual cue that we are shifting in time.”

“Frequently in editing, you shift things around — even intercut things that were not initially meant to be intercut — to make the story flow better and tell it in a way that works better,” she adds. “We were going to shift in time anyway, being that this is a story about Einstein, but we were not married to any one rigid way of telling the story. If I had to shift things around to make a scene or an episode work better, then that is what I did.”

Read the full story here.