hi all - the fine folks over at /r/arresteddevelopment recently asked me to do an AMA (http://www.reddit.com/r/arresteddevelopment/comments/1f3klz/ama_request_the_guy_who_edited_the_new_episodes/), so here i am.

having been on reddit since before getting the gig, i've seen tons of AMAs but never done one myself, so hopefully this goes well! i'll do my best to answer any questions about the show, though there may be some things i can't discuss. i guess we'll find out!

PROOF: mods have proof, and i've added a page to my website - http://elevenpictures.com/amaproof.php

and here - https://twitter.com/kabirakhtar/status/341992937699295232

also someone asked, yes i'm the guy who started the tool website at toolshed.down.net back in 95.

EDIT 5pm ET - alright folks, i gotta run. thanks for all the great questions; my only regret as a fellow redditor is that nobody asked me about duck-sized horses. (100 of them sound much easier to deal with than one horse-sized duck.)

Comments: 225 • Responses: 51  • Date: 

collaborations72 karma

Can I get a trial version of Showstealer Pro?

kabirakhtar74 karma

just be warned - it only has a certain number of uses.

anyone counted how many times we used it this season?

QuiteTheLurker66 karma

I could have sworn I heard a facebook notification noise during one of the episodes. Is that because yall knew people would mostly watch Netflix on their laptops? If so, it's genius, yall got me.

Congrats on all of your hardwork, awesome season!

kabirakhtar75 karma

the facebook sound wasn't my idea. i'm ashamed to say that even though i listened to each sound mix, i somehow didn't notice it until it was on air. i must have thought it was someone's laptop in the office. not mine, of course, i'd -never- check facebook at work......

cmallard201142 karma

Help daddy get his rocks off and tell me what your favorite one-liner in this new season was?

kabirakhtar81 karma

man that's tough. the one thing we all watched over and over was Gob's meltdown. every day there was someone at the office saying "should, should i? sh- should the guy...". that performance is from one take, btw. i shortened it a little, as it was originally closer to 90 sec, and the cut in the show is around 55. we tried leaving in the full version in one shot but it didn't hold up in context of the show. i was really meticulous with which "shoulds" i left in and took out, but will arnett was just amazing. i said when i first saw it that he could win an emmy for that alone.

eastlosang42 karma

Just wanted to commend you, it takes a special person to edit AD.

kabirakhtar20 karma

thank you!

kabirakhtar40 karma

i'd like to check it out - really interested to see how they all look when put back together. the penthouse scene, for example, was originally shot and cut as one giant scene (it was 12-15m long IIRC). once it was distributed to different episodes, as it had always been intended, each part changed separately, so i never got to watch it all together again in its finished form. i tried to make sure that it could still be reconnected, though, so i'm curious to check this out.

morphinapg20 karma

Those are my episodes, and the scene you reference is in my episode 2.

kabirakhtar15 karma

how was it reconstructing it?

bort_sampson32 karma

Just wanted to say, loving the new season! Thanks for helping to make it happen!

I've heard many mixed feelings regarding the fact that by being on Netflix the episodes were no longer restricted to 22 minutes (the standard TV runtime).

As an editor myself I know that sometimes those restrictions can be a major pain - be it cutting great stuff to fit, or having to make worse stuff long enough.

What do you feel has been the end result for the show? Did you prefer having the freedom to make an episode as long as it needed to be, or do you wish there had been a little more restraint to keep things snappy and make sure only the best bits made the cut?

kabirakhtar33 karma

there's definitely ups and downs to having that kind of freedom.

upside - you don't get stuck having to take out jokes you love just to get the show to fit the TRT (total running time) mandated by the network. like, the show is 22:09 and the network requires it to be 22:00, and it's the eleventh hour, and one last thing has to go, and it's always a drag. so it's certainly good to have the freedom to make the cut as long as it needs to be to accommodate story, comedy, and pacing.

downside - one recurring criticism i've seen has been that the shows are too long and some feel slow as a result. now, some shows write their episodes very long, and have their first cuts come in around 45m long, so a lot of the comedy and story gets refined in postproduction, where you can see what worked on set and what didn't. some shows write really tightly, and have their first cuts come in right around 23m. we did delete a lot of material, stuff that didn't work as well, etc, but i think that the amount of stories we had to tell - and things that had to tie into the rest of the season - dictated the lengths of the episodes.

chrisis12327 karma

Whose idea was it to add the watermark for "Showstealer Pro Trial Version" to all the S1-3 footage?

kabirakhtar34 karma

the watermark idea was Mitch's, but i don't remember exactly who came up with the wording. i may have come up with "Trial version" but it was six months ago.

win7-myidea25 karma

Great job with editing! Initially the season was presented to be watched in any order. (I think Portia de Rossi said this in a few interviews) Why did this ultimately not work out? Also how did you all keep track of the timeline?

EDIT: Fixed Portia de Rossi's name before one of you inevitably calls me out.

kabirakhtar35 karma

i think there was an idea about watching it in any order, but as we worked on it, it became clear that while you COULD watch it in any order, a lot of the stories wouldn't necessarily make sense. if you hadn't seen the part about michael needing to get the family's signatures, for example, every time he was getting a signature would be confusing and have no context.

i kept track of the timeline in my head as best i could, with a ton of help from our co-producer and our whole post team. and obviously Mitch had the whole timeline in his head, so part of the gig for me was to help make sure the whole thing fit together.

stopbeingsheep24 karma

Was it blood or juice?

kabirakhtar35 karma


adamschoales20 karma

This may be one of those questions you're not comfortable asking but what the hell:

I know from experience network notes are a giant pain in the butt, especially when they seem to be completely at odds with the whole ethos of a show.

What were the notes from Netflix like? Were they similar to networks you've worked with in the past, were they very hands on? Hand off?

I get the impression from interviews that they're all about creative freedom, I'm just curious as to how true that ended up being when all was said and done.

kabirakhtar39 karma

netflix was truly all about creative freedom. i've worked for almost every network out there, and they all have their own ways of doing business. but netflix was wonderfully non-intrusive and supportive of what Mitch and all of us were doing.

ThatGirlH20 karma


kabirakhtar21 karma

we tried our best, but only he can tell you if his personal vision was fulfilled.

deleted scenes - yes, answered a few minutes ago. in the editing process, some scenes moved around within shows, and some moved from one show to another. in doing so, sometimes you wind up with two scenes in a show that are redundant storywise, as one originally belonged to a later episode, and served to recap some info from the earlier episode. there's one such deleted scene that comes to mind right now, there are probably more.

grgmrtn14 karma

Were you given the entirety of the footage at once, or in sections as they completed filming? How much editing were you able to do before you knew where the whole season was going?

kabirakhtar16 karma

as is normal for a show like this, new footage came in every day. i'd read all the scripts as soon as i got them, so i knew what was coming. but it was still fun every day to see all the subtle background jokes from the previous day's shoot.

hester200313 karma

Thank you for bringing back Arrested Development, is there any other shows that have disappeared that you personally would like to see resurrected as Arrested Development has?

kabirakhtar42 karma

i mean, firefly, but i don't know how you do that after the events of Serenity.

spartacusrc313 karma

Hi Kabir,

  • With all the different character timelines in this season, how did you keep them all straight?
  • Was there a particular scene or interaction that was difficult to get just right?
  • What's your process when approaching each new scene?

Great work on the show, I really enjoyed every minute.

kabirakhtar14 karma

thank you!

1- (answered elsewhere in this thread)

2- there were many. we went back and forth on a lot of scenes, making sure the best takes were in, making sure the timing was right, etc. a lot of the george and oscar stuff in 403 (which is actually episode 2 - i know them all still by their production numbers) was especially hard, dealing with both the technical challenge of having the same actor appear in a scene twice and with the creative challenge of sharpening his timing given that he wasn't obviously acting against himself on set.

3 - process varies. simply put - read the scene, and understand the story it's telling. watch the footage, and start to visualize the whole scene put together. then start building! (this may sound like it also works for legos, but only because editing is a lot like taking legos that someone else made, and then building something for them that they will like.)

jordanFromJersey11 karma

Which main character's arc was the most difficult to effectively track through the season, and why?

kabirakhtar17 karma

honestly, none of them were. at first it was a daunting task to keep the whole season together, but as i posted elsewhere in this thread, you spend every day for nine months working on this season, you really get it into your head. so following each character wasn't too hard.

but following storylines was a different matter, though. it took me a long time to understand the story of the wall. and the story of the check; which is why i really enjoyed building that montage that just followed the check from person to person.

Rob_Saget10 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA!

  • Are you still updating that Tool website?
  • As an editor were there moments where you just had to walk away because of too much hilarity or have you pretty much been able to control your laughter?
  • Would you be interested in coming on an episode of my podcast to nerd out about entertainment (maybe even Tool)? Justin Lee is coming on soon. Would love to have you too!

Thanks again!

kabirakhtar8 karma

1- i haven't had time in months. i'm just rejoining the real world. we were working 7 days a week at the end, so i was literally sleeping and breathing AD and didn't have time for anything else.

2- i laughed a ton throughout the process. but the good thing about editing is you don't have to pause the show to give yourself time to laugh — we are constantly stopping and starting.

3- PM me.

jordanFromJersey10 karma

You dropped by our season 4 timeline early in its production:

  1. how accurate do you think our work has been so far?
  2. How similar was it to the timeline you worked from?(we've seen images of the multicolored index cards wallpapering the writer's room, is that what you worked from?)

(link for anyone who hasn't visited or contributed to the timeline: http://www.reddit.com/r/arresteddevelopment/comments/1f4pvc/spoiler_season_4_ad_redditors_lets_put_together_a/)

kabirakhtar23 karma

i didn't have a document like that in post. it might have been helpful if we made one. or traveled forward in time to use yours.

i don't know think you've found it yet, but i did leave in one small clue several times throughout the season to help you with the chronology. when you do find it, let me know if it was helpful.

Daring869 karma

First of all, great job on season 4 of AD and thanks for doing an AMA. I just got a few questions for you. 1. Was there a scene from season 4 of Arrested Development that got edited out that you wish you could of left in? 2. Also, I seen you directed a lot of the Unsolved Mysteries episodes. Do you happen to have a favorite Unsolved Mystery? 3. I was also reading about your April Fools Pranks, so which one was your favorite?

kabirakhtar11 karma


1 - yes, there certainly were more than one. i believe there will be some kind of release of deleted scenes at some point. though there would be way more 'extended' scenes than ones that were outright deleted. there's one in particular between buster and ophelia that i was sad to see go, but that's the way it goes.

2 - DB Cooper! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D._B._Cooper

3 - i have a soft spot for that first one, the "bus crash" in 97. i hadn't realized how big a deal the tool website was until then, and i think a lot of people hadn't seen any kind of internet rumor take off in the mainstream media. MTV started running an hourly news update to let people know it was just a joke. i was concerned the band would be pissed but maynard sent me a platinum copy of Ænima afterwards. that was a good day.

bronxwasborninsweden8 karma

I'm currently on my second runthrough of the season 4 episodes on netflix, and I just wanted to thank you for what I think are the best bunch of episodes yet.

That being said, what does the future look like for Arrested Development? I know Netflix announced that they are willing to do more episodes. Is that the way you want the show to go, or would you prefer to try to get picked up by a network?

Also, boxers or briefs?

kabirakhtar8 karma

thanks! i have no idea what might be next. i like the idea of a movie to wrap it all up.

also, neither.

andyperri8 karma

Hi Kabir! Thanks for doing this. I don't think I'm alone in noticing that the new season clearly makes an effort to look like the old ones, but is a little different. How did you handle this? Did you go into it intending to make the show look like it used to?

Also, what do you feel like your biggest challenge was editing the season? It seems like it would be a tall order to have the editors handle all the subplots and threads woven throughout the episodes, releasing tiny pieces of information each time.

kabirakhtar15 karma

i thought it was important to make the show look similar wherever possible. as a fan i hate when shows deviate from their canon and get all retcon-ish (number of times the doctor can regenerate, anyone?).

hence the white backgrounds, split screens, etc. they all match the old show. but this season necessarily took on a life of its own. i've said that the idea was to keep the grammar the same, but to introduce new vocabulary to the AD language. so it's different, but still in ways the same.


as for releasing tiny pieces at a time, i had a few post it notes on my desk for that. there was one with a list of which character we had done a yellow text introduction for (like "michael bluth - owes $700,000"), so i could make sure not to forget to do one for everybody.

Broley8 karma

What software do you use / did you use for editing AD?

kabirakhtar14 karma

avid, media composer.

kleintje8 karma

The fact that the episodes were all significantly longer made a lot of nice, awkward pauses, silences, and narration possible. Do you feel like that significantly changed the style of the editing and the humor? I personally felt that it was taken advantage of well, but I was curious how you felt as an editor.

kabirakhtar9 karma

having the flexibility with our running time definitely gave us an opportunity to let things breathe. i'd imagine that if a movie ever happened, it wouldn't be as fast-paced as seasons 1-3. it couldn't be; keeping that pace up for 90ish minutes is challenging for filmmakers but even more so for an audience. you definitely need pauses for pacing, like you need shadows for cinematography.

dimwell7 karma

Why is Undertow the best Tool album?

kabirakhtar9 karma

because every song on it is amazing!

redrunner857 karma

This is awesome! How close to the 5/26 start were you guys still editing? Did Netflix have a firm "stop" day?

kabirakhtar3 karma

we finished the final touches on the final episode about ten days before. yes, all networks and all shows will have an air date, and delivery dates are backed into that. so if your episode of game of thrones airs sunday, HBO will have a date by which they need the finished episode, so they can QC it, or make it available for streaming, or make trailers for it, etc.

wilkinswontkins7 karma

  • You mentioned in another thread that there is a subtle "Clue" reference in the season (not the Mustard-Parmesan thing). Can you reveal what that is, or give hints on where to find it?

  • Do you know if any extra footage was shot during "Cinco de Cuatro" for use in a fifth season or movie?

kabirakhtar9 karma

1- i believe it's in maeby's episode. but it's just a fun easter egg. if you can find it.

2- i do know the answer, but i can't answer either yes or no to this one. sorry!

hillylb6 karma

Killer editing. I think I said out loud at least twice an episode what a bitch this must have been to sew together!

QUESTION: What percentage of the show takes shape from in-the-moment changes in the bay, versus pre-mapped out plans?

kabirakhtar6 karma

thanks! hard question to answer with an actual number.

obviously if you watch the show, you're seeing what was shot, which you might be calling 'pre-mapped-out.' but a lot of the glue was changed in post. i guess you could think of the footage as bricks, and the work/changes/writing done in post as the mortar.

ReadMyPosts6 karma

You are an unsung hero. Which cast member would you consider the most craziest off camera?

kabirakhtar10 karma

thanks - i didn't meet them all so i couldn't say. but terry crews was a really cool guy. not like herbert love at all.

marisai5 karma

Hi, you are awesome. Tell us the story of how you got such an awesome job. Thank you for doing this, the editing really made this new season for me.

kabirakhtar4 karma

simple, really - i knew one of the executive producers; we've been working together for over ten years. the opportunity came up, and i felt extremely lucky to be part of this show.

dee_c4 karma


kabirakhtar3 karma

sorry to hear that. can you give a specific example? the big rewinds and the use of yellow "moments earlier" text were there to help.

skoot3 karma

Was the non-standard (22min) format of the new episodes something that was planned on from the beginning? or did you realize, during the process of editing, that 22 minutes wasn't enough for some episodes, leading to an expansion?

kabirakhtar1 karma

we never had a set target time; i think netflix's only stipulation was that it be LONGER than 22, but they were great about being flexible.

taptriv3 karma

LOVED the India episodes ! Did you have any input in it because of your background ?

kabirakhtar6 karma

my dad helped out with the translation of the name of the town, and they did wind up naming a character after me.

spcms3 karma

Do you have a favorite character? Are some characters easier to edit?

kabirakhtar9 karma

i mean, buster is just an amazing character, from writing to acting.

characters aren't harder to edit than others usually. some actors, though...

ShadowOmar3 karma

Is making arrested development fun?

And how is editing it?

kabirakhtar9 karma

it was a really special opportunity to work on this show, of course. it was also really challenging to put this season together, given that we were basically doing the whole thing at once. but despite the hard work, there were tons of moments where we were laughing at the show and also moments where we were like "hey we're working on arrested development!"

leach07893 karma

Did you have to put together a timeline to know what happened in what order? I feel like my entire office wall would be one season 4 story timeline.

kabirakhtar6 karma

there were a few of us who knew the whole puzzle; remember, i was on the show for nine months. every day for months was full time learning the whole timeline. the real mindfuck is realizing that many of the events in season 4 would not have happened at all if not for a few minor things that happen...

percyclevland2 karma

I'm an aspiring actor and I'm curious, what's more important, resume and talent, or word of mouth and charisma? I'm asking you this because I assume the same would apply to anyone in the film industry.

kabirakhtar3 karma

it's all who you know. or 'whom you know.' connections get you in the door. talent keeps you there.

CitizenSam2 karma

Were some of the scenes between Lindsay and her mom shot separately with a stand in portraying whichever actor wasn't there that day?

kabirakhtar1 karma

i don't think there were any such scenes with lindsay / lucille.

morphinapg2 karma

The scenes between Lucille 1 and 2 at the trial were shot separately though right? Pretty sure I could tell on those.

kabirakhtar2 karma

yes, most likely there must have been a scheduling problem getting them both on set for that scene.

bort_sampson2 karma

Total tech-geek question: what did you cut with? I'm guessing Avid but know that there's still some people rocking good ol' FCP 7 (myself included) or have even switched to Premiere or FCPX.

kabirakhtar7 karma

media composer.

and here's a tech-geek thing you might like - there's a really tech-geeky easter egg that recurs throughout the season that nobody has found yet.

bort_sampson3 karma

You mean apart from Show Stealer Pro (one that made me laugh out loud by the way). I'll keep my eyes peeled.

Side bar: tried to install the trial for media composer on my laptop this weekend and caused it to kernel panic every time I attempted to run the installer. Guess I'm sticking with Final Cut for now...

kabirakhtar2 karma

better yet, keep your ears peeled....

bort_sampson1 karma

Now I'm excited!

kabirakhtar4 karma

though honestly your ears won't be enough.

bort_sampson1 karma

Still hunting. Liked the "Netflix iPad UI" fast forward bit during George Sr. Second Ep.

Or is it the bad closed captioning in GOBs Ep?

kabirakhtar1 karma

no you'd need some kind of spectrograph / audio analyzer. it happens in each episode but would be tricky to figure out.

jordanFromJersey2 karma

What percentage [ballpark] of shots in season four used:

  1. Blue/green screen
  2. ADR'd body doubles

Cause I caught some, but others I just wasn't sure about.

kabirakhtar1 karma

not that many. there's a lot of vfx work in this season that you'd never know wasn't real.

Brightcab2 karma

So I stalked your post history and ad fans pretty much have questions covered... tell me about seeing dmx right after he got out of jail. Any memorable quotes?

kabirakhtar3 karma

no but it was a memorable day. we went up to the mountains north of phoenix first thing and saw the morning sun over the hills.

NounsAreCool1 karma

Firstly, thank-you and excellent work. Arrested Development season 4 must have been one of the most complex edit jobs ever. I'm struggling to think of anything that comes remotely close. I've gone over the timeline with a tooth comb and apart from one minor thing it all works with no cheating, either...

The stuff was basically shot as a single project, yeah? and divided into episodes after? How much did the structure come together in the edit? Early publicity material suggeted the episodes could be watched in any order but most people seem to have decided that the Netflix order is best - it certainly seems to work dramatically. Was that order in mind as a target for the edit or did it emerge?

kabirakhtar2 karma

the whole thing was scripted ahead of time, so it was pretty well divided up at the outset. that said, there was a LOT of rearranging that went on, plus i tried to always leave in vestiges of interconnected scenes, figuring that someone online would eventually try to the cut whole thing together. curious to see how that's turning out.

what's that 'one minor thing' you found?

jordanFromJersey1 karma

Can you think of any other show that might work with a "concurrent timeline" season? Would you ever want to do that type of editing again on another show?

kabirakhtar6 karma

i have heard that there may be a show or two doing it this fall season. i'm secretly glad we did it first.

i don't know if anyone will do it as densely as we did, and that was the most fun part of it. i don't know that anything else could live up to the challenge of this one, from an editorial perspective, but i can't say i wouldn't do something like this again.

Hatbear1 karma

Thanks for all your hard work on the show, it really shows!

1 - Given the nature of a show like AD being so loved by its fans did you feel any pressure / anxiety getting offered the job? 2 - How will award nominations work with shows like this given that its not airing traditionally?

kabirakhtar2 karma

1- i knew i better not let down reddit, if that's what you mean...

2- same as other tv shows, at least for the emmys!

amilfordgirl1 karma

I am hoping you might see this at some point and maybe answer since I just saw this thread. As the editor, you definitely are very familiar with the story/timeline. There are numerous "mysteries" in this season (like, what happened to Lucille 2). Do you think that an astute viewer can actually solve all of the mysteries of this season? Or do we need more information for some of them? Another example is who sabotaged GOB during his "illusion" at his wedding. I think that answer is easily found if you watch carefully, even though its never answered outright. Anyway, what are your thoughts on this? It seems as though each and every Bluth has motivation to harm her, but my guess is that it wasn't one of them. Possibly involving her vertigo, or a non-Bluth if foul-play was involved. I'm hoping we get a season 5 to answer more!

kabirakhtar2 karma

hopefully the shows have enough pieces that you can come up with several different decent theories, at least.

hatesdefaultfrontpag1 karma

What happened to Portia De Rossi's face? Please tell me it was makeup that looked like she had work down, in order to make some of the jokes work (e.g. Lindsey turning into her mom, the check given to Maeby).

I also saw your dad give a lecture at UVa a few months back on poetry and healing. Were you surrounded by poetry growing up? What are some of your favorite poets? And how good is your Urdu?

kabirakhtar4 karma

i think she just looked unusual because of the long blonde wig she had. check the scene at the start of 'red hairing' - she looks pretty normal out in the desert with her short hair.

random that you saw my dad speak. yes surrounded by poetry and storytelling my whole childhood. i can't speak a lick of urdu; i took french in high school and i still know some of that.

jablonski420-2 karma

Has an editor do you intentionally not capitalize or is it due to simply not caring and using a computer instead of an autocorrecting smartphone?

Do you think bringing the show back was a good idea for original fans? A lot of successful UK formats release quick short seasons as to not "ruin the feel" so to speak. I see the new Arrested Development as trying to capture a new demographic too little, too late.

kabirakhtar6 karma

ha good question. i gave up capitalizing after high school. i'm not sure why. i think i just typed faster without stopping for that pesky shift key. conversely, i usually handwrite in all caps, because my lowercase handwriting is terrible.

i do think it was a good idea for the original fans, though it sounds like you don't. it's kind of like when a band puts out a new record after years. many different opinions. sometimes it takes a while to grow on you. sometimes it never will. hopefully it does.