How humor and hormones come alive in Netflix’s Big Mouth and Human Resources

Still of an animation from Netflix's Human Resources.

Image source: Netflix.

Lovebugs and Hormone Monsters are just a few members of the colorful cast of characters and creatures you’ll find while watching Netflix’s hit animated series Big Mouth and its spinoff Human Resources. From enduring the horrors of puberty to juggling workplace drama, these series take viewers on a comedic journey through life, love and labor.

With six seasons across both shows and more on the way, we sat down with editor Felipe Salazar to learn how he pieced these hilarious (and often hormonal) shows together using Adobe Premiere Pro.

How and where did you first learn to edit?

I got the editing bug playing with a home video camera, VCR, and an old Macintosh. I then learned the theory and fundamentals of editing at USC. Cutting 35mm multi camera footage with mag audio really makes you think about what you are doing and the value of a single frame. There’s no “undo” feature, just a lot of taping and un-taping film.

How do you begin a project/set up your workspace?

We have a few seasons of Big Mouth under our belt so we’ve created a standardized project template to make sure we are consistent across seasons. All of our projects have the same codec, time code, audio channel mapping, organized bins and so on. From here, I like to have the tallest timeline possible since we use many video and audio channels.

Felipe Salazar Premiere Pro Timeline on Human Resources.

Image source: Felipe Salazar.

Tell us about your favorite scene from both projects — Big Mouth and Human Resources — and why they stand out to you.

There are so many scenes that are my “favorite.” The Christmas episode ("A Very Big Mouth Christmas") in Season 5 of Big Mouth definitely tops the list. There were segments of puppet live action, stop motion animation, and even Anime style action. The Anime backstory of “Featuring Ludacris” was so much fun to work on.

The Human Resources episode, “It's Almost Over” really made me emotional. I don’t want to reveal too much and spoil anything, but the episode is very relatable and has some great story telling.

How has your editing process evolved from Big Mouth to Human Resources?

Both shows take place in the same world, so the pipeline was already running well by the time Human Resources started.

That said, our editorial team continues to fine tune and streamline the entire editing process from start to finish. We’ve been getting much more detailed with our timeline and have been using marker notes, timeline notes and color coding so that any editor can open a project and know what they are looking at. We also edited Human Resources from home. The pandemic changed our workflow, but we endured and delivered!

What were some specific post-production challenges you faced on either project? How did you go about solving them?

In Season 5 of Big Mouth, we had a couple of episodes with live action elements which is a pipeline that we don’t usually work with. We had to edit the live action shots with storyboard panels on top and then share the raw footage with the compositing team, so they could make it all come to life. Doing this during the lockdown made it all a bit difficult. We were able to complete all of our edits with upgraded hard-drive space.

What Adobe tools did you use for each project and why did you originally choose them? Why were they the best choice for each project?

We use the clip name filter and frame counter on all of our shots so we can clearly see what the shot is, which version it is, and whether it has gone to our in-house compositing team. Having an accurate frame counter helps with notes and working with animation in general. In the old days, we would have to manually make individual text layers on top of every shot which was very time consuming.

Felipe Salazar Premiere Pro Timeline on Human Resources.

Image source: Felipe Salazar.

Do you use Frame.io as part of your workflow? If so, how do you use it and which features do you find most valuable?

Our production likes to use Frame.io to distribute cuts to the writers and other show executives. Its security is the best feature, especially when people are working from home. It’s also easy to add basic watermarks to all the distributed files.

What do you like about Premiere Pro, and/or any of the other tools you used?

Premiere Pro is stable and it’s great to have that reliability during live sessions with creators or executives. Our studio, Titmouse Inc., even has custom scripts for labeling, breaking up, and exporting files needed in our pipeline.

What’s your hidden gem/favorite workflow tip in Adobe Creative Cloud?

Due to our massive cast, we deal with audio from different audio facilities and at times, even audio from the actors’ home studio. We map our dialogue channels to a submix with limiters/gain levels. This gives us a broad stroke starting point, so all of our dialogue lives within the same “mix” levels. It also makes it easier than it would be if we had to adjust individual volume levels for each piece of audio. This happens before the show gets properly mixed, which comes months down the road.

Who is your creative inspiration and why?

I have to say the Star Trek universe has had the biggest impact on me. In their universe, the imagination never ends and their stories span all genres: action, romance and science fiction.

Flexibility is so important when making an animated show. With Big Mouth & Human Resources, we can take the story to outer space, other dimensions, or even inside the body. The options are endless.

What’s the toughest thing you’ve had to face in your career and how did you overcome it? What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers or content creators?

Just like many careers in this industry, breaking in was difficult. Persistence is key. Once you can get past the entry points, you fall into a routine of making decisions on which gigs to take and which to pass on. Oftentimes, filmmakers have to decide if money is more important than the content they are working on. I personally love and feel lucky for the projects I have been part of.

Share a photo of where you work.

Felipe Salazar's workspace.

Image source: Felipe Salazar.

Big Mouth and Human Resources are now streaming on Netflix.