television industry


In case anybody was still wondering if Avid’s recent rebranding was a good idea, I recently attended two industry events that helped prove that the company that brought us Media Composer twenty years ago is not going anywhere anytime soon.  With a renewed sense of forward thinking and a commitment to actually listening to the users of their product, Avid’s recent releases of their 3.0 and 4.0 versions of Media Composer, along with a spiffy new series of hardware, helped prove to customers that there are still some advantages to throwing down a little extra cash to buy the editing toolset used by the majority of big-budget Hollywood productions. (more…)

sculptorI don’t usually write about the individual projects I work on, but I thought I’d take a page from Shane Ross‘s playbook and do a little first-person story-telling for once.  I wanted to share a real-world challenge that I faced recently on my current show and how I used my knowledge of Avid software to pinpoint the root of the problem and fix it.  It’s situations like these where you really have to think on your feet; because of the unique nature of the problem, no manual or editing class can prepare you for what course of action to take.  You simply have to extrapolate your knowledge of the program and use all of the tools at your disposal.  Imagine an artist with a giant rectangular block of granite in front of him – somewhere in there lies the beautiful statue that is pictured in his head, and it’s his job to find it.  Sure, it’s possible to use a single chisel and hammer to hack away until something resembling a human figure appears, but with careful planning, a variety of specialized tools, and a delicate hand, the goal he strives for is much more likely to be attained. (more…)

Ladies and gentlemen, dust off your keyboard and calibrate your mouse. It’s time for a “View from the Cutting Room Floor” pop quiz.

Like the Native American windtalkers in World War II, post production professionals often speak in code only intelligible to other members of our “tribe.” To evaluate your level of submersion into television post culture, define the following terms by picking the multiple choice answer that is most appropriate to the profession.

1. Supertease

  1. The flashy montage at the beginning of a reality show (usually in the first episode) that informs the viewer of the premise of the show and what to expect from the rest of the season
  2. A men’s hair product that was forced out of business by Vitalis in the 1950’s
  3. The guy or girl in high school that flirted with you all the time but always had “other plans” on Friday and Saturday night (more…)

Industry news has recently been dominated by various issues that point to the fact that the media we consume and the manner in which we consume it is in a transitional period. As entertainment professionals recover from the writers’ strike and brace for another possible work stoppage (SAG/AMPTP talks recently broke down), much of the speculation surrounds the future of online content distribution – with copyright issues, residuals, and effective advertising methods still major unknowns at this point.

Mark Cuban posted on the topic on his blog last Sunday, quoting from Craig Moffett’s report “And Now for the News…The Emperor Has No Clothes.” In it, Moffett suggests that there is no realistic way television can migrate to the Internet without losing most of its revenue. Viewers tolerate fewer commercials when watching video on their computer than they would on their TV set, cutting revenues by as much as 88%. Also, since most popular Internet videos gain popularity through viral distribution and have no lead-ins, the number of viewers who will tune in is wildly unpredictable. (more…)

Media Composer’s “Group Clips” feature is best suited for very simple multicamera shoots. As long as all of the cameras start and stop around the same time with no drop-outs in between, and as long as the timecode was shot time-of-day and jam-synced between cameras right before the shoot, you can easily make groups in a matter of seconds. In practice, however, it is rarely this simple. Cameramen with itchy trigger fingers start and stop recording every few seconds, independently of the other cameramen. This can cause the shots in a group to cycle through all of the available window positions in the four-frame display and force you to use the nine-frame view with smaller thumbnails. Maybe both cameras stopped shooting for a period of time, but you want to include footage after the break in your group. Sometimes production jam-syncs the cameras once in the morning, and by the afternoon they have drifted several frames out of sync. Luckily, there is a way to work around all of these issues and create convenient multigroups that contain all of your footage for a given scene and are perfectly in sync. Each camera can drop in and out, and the multigroup will automatically adjust and play smoothly throughout the duration of the footage. Put your thinking caps on – this tutorial is not for the faint of heart. (more…)

One of the hardest parts of working in the entertainment industry is the constant job uncertainty. Not always having a steady paycheck and not knowing where and when your next job might start can create significant stress and cause the faint of heart to swear off freelancing forever. However, constant change can also be a great asset. New co-workers, new challenges, and a change of scenery prevent you from getting bored, restless, and unproductive. For those of you who don’t have an agent and a phone that’s ringing off the hook with job offers, here are a few tips I’ve found to be useful in my burgeoning career as a freelancer.

1. Use every job-hunting resource available to you.

Jobs

90% of the jobs you will ever get in this industry will be through word of mouth. As you start out, informally contact family friends or acquaintances who have worked in the industry. Alumni networks can also prove useful. When you contact someone (I find e-mail to be less intrusive than telephone), don’t ask if they can get you a job. Instead, ask them for advice and see if you can meet up for coffee. Follow up with them every few weeks or months so they don’t forget about you. If you make a good impression, your name might just pop into their head when someone asks if they know anyone available for hire.

There are also numerous web sites with entertainment industry job postings, a few of which I have linked to on the “Resources” page of this blog. I tend to find the jobs advertised on these sites to be either pretty demanding in terms of prior experience, lacking in fair compensation, or overcrowded with applicants. But it never hurts to apply. (more…)

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