Editor Gabe Darling Shares How “Legendary” Shines the Spotlight on Underground Ballroom


This post was first published on the Adobe blog

With its debut on HBO Max, reality series Legendary combines modern dance, art, and fashion to bring underground ballroom culture to the masses. As eight teams of five dancers compete for the top prize over the course of the nine-episode series, viewers get a front-row view into an expressive and extravagant artform that’s existed since the early 20th century.

Sibling Rivalry’s Gabe Darling edited the series’ title sequence. We spoke to him about his creative process, what inspires him, and why now is a good time for content creators to get creative about their work.


Adobe: How and where did you first learn to edit?

Gabe Darling: I first learned to edit VCR to VCR when I was 12 years old or so, then on an early version of Premiere in high school, and finally really learned the theory and method in film school. They prohibited us from doing any work on computers at first and made us use old Steenbeck flatbeds. That was the first time I learned what things like “bins” and “clips” actually meant and that if you don’t keep things organized, in your head and in physical space, things go off the rails quickly.

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


Gabe Darling: I always start by setting up my window layout, keyboard shortcuts and rough arrangement of my bins and folder structure. Then coffee. Then just dive in.

Tell us about a favorite scene or moment from this project and why it stands out to you.


Gabe Darling: There’s always a moment when you’re trying to put it together and something clicks. This is a project that’s all about competing houses in the underground ball scene. So, when I used one of the defining house shapes to frame out a portrait of a house mother on top of a plate with complimentary motion and lighting changes, it clicked. The spirit of this particular culture comes from its juxtapositions. They’re both high fashion and grungy underground, ragtag group and royal family. When you find that guiding aesthetic principle, it just guides the rest of what you’re doing. Probably no viewer will exactly see what we’re doing but hopefully they feel it in some way.


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