The Linear weeks grid is usually a spread sheet made in Microsoft Excel. Often it is given to the Post Supervisor by the EIC or VP of Production. Sometimes the process is reversed and the Post Supervisor will create the Linear Weeks Grid based on constraints by the EIC and then get their grid approved.
Most linear week grids are oriented vertically, with the progression of time going downward. Typically the horizontal axis is made up of the show’s activities (Production, Post, Air date, etc) or Producer/Editor teams. Sometimes an EIC’s or Prodco’s will switch the horizontal and vertical axes (known in Excel as “Switch Plot”) in which time proceeds horizontally from left to right. Either is valid. Over time you’ll develop your own preference or adapt to the production company’s house style.
When you look at the example grid you will see column headings such as “Production Week” or “Post Week” which simply count the number of weeks the show has been in production or post respectively. In the middle is the real ‘meat’ of the linear weeks grid: the producer & editor teams. In the example schedule you can see that this show has 12 production weeks, 2 rounds of pickups, the first episode (101) has 12 weeks of editing and the remaining 7 episodes have 8 edit weeks. It is typical for the premiere episode to receive one or two additional edit weeks.
What is presented here is a “best case scenario” where everything goes according to plan. Over the course of a season any multitude of things can happen that will cause this simple grid to balloon in complexity. But the overall goal of the linear weeks grid is to facilitate budgeting by creating a schedule that allows financial stakeholders to easily tally up the total number of weeks for editors, equipment, and office space.
The primary problem with the Linear Weeks Grid is the lack of granularity. On the grid, an editor is either all on one episode or another. However, in real life, editors often shift between episodes while they wait for network notes. The Linear Week Grid has no way to account for this activity fluidity.
“Doubling Up” & Finishing editors
The Linear Weeks Grid is best thought of as a tool for strategic planing. Its macro nature enable experimenting with big picture ideas, such as editor deployment. Two examples of this are: “Doubling up” editors to work on two episodes, and having a Finishing editor deliver all of your show’s final episodes.
In the earlier example of the Linear Weeks Grid, the 8 episode season is edited by 8 different editors. This is straightforward, but the downside is that you’ll have to find eight editors who are all available within your show’s time frame. However, if the final deliverable deadlines allow it, doubling up on episodes reduces the number of editors (and story producers) you need to hire. As you can see in the example below, after completing their work on episode 101, the editor rolls on to episode 105. The 102 editor on to 106, etc etc. This creates a longer overall edit schedule, but a better environment.
Another option that I’ve seen become more popular these days is having one editor finish every episode. This is done to ensure that the show’s season has a consistency that’s not possible when eight separate editors work on eight separate episodes. What usually happens in these instances, is that the Finishing Editor will pick up each episode after the last round of network notes are given, and bring the episode to Picture Lock.
When used as a strategic tool, the Linear Weeks Grid enables you to easily quantify totals: total editor weeks, total equipment weeks, amount of office space needed. The big picture nature of the grid, also enables easy experimentation with different team configurations. What’s been presented here is merely scratching the surface of Grids that I’ve seen colleagues use on their shows.