A 20-year television veteran, Wes Morgan vividly remembers telling people "you'll never be able to edit on a computer." Then came NewTek's Video Toaster and Morgan's quick realization of what was to come. He set himself up with a DPS Personal Animation Recorder and Toaster rendering to a hard drive, stayed abreast with DPS Perception, then migrated to Velocity.
1 Beyond user Tim Morse works in a 3,400-square-foot building on his property just outside of Boston.
Morgan heads Morgan Multimedia (334-791-0295) in Dothan, AL, and also serves as coordinator of educational technology at Troy State University in town. His bucolic home office, which overlooks a lake, boasts DPS Velocity 8.2 which came bundled with DFX+ and Sound Forge, and is networked to Adobe Photoshop, NewTek LightWave 3D and the extremely useful Digital Juice library of animated backgrounds, alpha channels and lower thirds.
A longtime DPS customer, Morgan calls the company "user friendly" and says Velocity has been "very dependable" over the years. "That's very important to me. It's nice to know that when you promise a client something will be out the door, you can count on Velocity."
Morgan, who specializes in programming and promos for sports and the outdoors, often has quick - even last-minute - deadlines for projects. His software repertoire came in handy when longtime client the Bass Anglers Sportsmen's Society (B.A.S.S.) needed a sophisticated, high-energy promo for an upcoming event. He turned it around in a day-and-a-half tapping his archive for clips from previous events, sourced backgrounds in Digital Juice, composited elements in DFX+, tweaked the B.A.S.S. logo in Photoshop and used Sound Forge for audio sweetening and mixing. "The only thing I needed was the voiceover, which came in on MP3," Morgan recalls.
Morgan shoots and handles location production for the Outdoor Channel series People Who Fish, which he also packages for air. By tabbing the 13-week series to a timeline, he's able to insert, with just a few keystrokes, edited segments for new episodes between commercial breaks, opens and closes, bumpers and other graphics he's created. When the EQ on mics in the field is muddy, Morgan can go back into the timeline, copy audio attributes from previous shows and apply them to the new segments for automatic clean up. "The ability to go back and forth within timelines and grab elements, effects or filters is an extreme time saver," he reports.
LARGE VENUE PROJECTS, SMALL SHOP
Hollywood-based independent Discreet Flame artist Lyle Eckmeier (323-462-3098) may be more itinerant than guerrilla-like due to the nature of his tool set. "I have a home studio, but a lot of my efforts are fairly ambitious and require equipment and support," he notes. "In the last few years I've four-walled a suite or rented a system and installed a set-up on a project-by-project basis. It's a neat time to do this: The tools are at a point where so much is possible for a person outside the structure of a facility."
A good deal of Eckmeier's work is content for large-venue video installations for theatrical, theme parks, museums and trade shows. He typically hires a core team of freelancers to help him with these projects.
For a five-source, 26-screen, all-HD, graphics-intensive video for the Epson booth at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, Eckmeier was able to rent the HD Flame suite at L3 Digital in Burbank while the company was closed for the holidays. "We had a two-week turnaround for our part," he recalls. "We brought in a couple of our own G5s, running [Discreet] Combustion and After Effects, and networked them with the Flame."
Eckmeier notes that "with HD and myriad screens there's so much content that throughput on workstations can be an issue. Flame adds several years to my lifespan with its speed and efficiency, especially in compositing and color correcting these kinds of projects." The multisource Epson project was conformed at Toluca Lake's Post Solutions in an HD linear edit suite and 5.1 surround Digidesign Pro Tools room. Five hour-long HD streams required extensive round-the-clock technical support and flexibility from Post Solutions.
A Disney video installation, designed to be integrated with a live show at the California Adventure Theme Park, found Eckmeier renting two Flames over the life of the six-month project. The show, designed for display on a three-source 60-by-20-foot fixed overhead curved screen and a stage-centered dynamic screen, required Eckmeier to respond to massive changes in the live production just before final delivery. "With the team, infrastructure and tools we had, we could deal with it," he states.
Teaming with post boutiques such as L3 Digital and Post Solutions as "a low-impact client" is a model that's worked well for Eckmeier. "It's a much more relationship-based way of doing business than working with larger, more factory-like facilities," he says. "It enables me to create a more flexible work environment adaptable to each project.."
A still photographer for 20 years before he switched to video production and post in 1996, Tim Morse is a longtime resident of Carlisle, MA, a woodsy community 25 miles from Boston where "cottage industry flourishes," he reports. He has established Morse Video, a division of Morse Photography www.morsephotography.com/, in a cathedral-ceilinged 3,400-square-foot building on his property which boasts a full Pro Tools recording studio, photography/video studio, video editing suite with two 1 Beyond systems and a client meeting room complete with eat-in area and hot tub.
While Morse's professional lifestyle may sound more luxurious than guerrilla, he's no stranger to a 100-hour work-week, specializing in projects for not-for-profits and producing a Holocaust-themed documentary in collaboration with filmmaker Federico Muchnik.
Morse invested in his first 1 Beyond editor in 1998 when a video equipment vendor urged him to take a look at the system developed by Terry Cullen in nearby Somerville; a second system soon followed. 1 Beyond delivers turnkey video systems that provide quality digital workflow in DV, SD and full 10-bit uncompressed HD. They may be configured as laptops, desktops, mobile and rack-mounted systems.
Morse uses a dual-monitor system for larger projects and the second system for smaller projects and DVD authoring. The 1 Beyond editors have Canopus DV Storm as the underlying program for Premiere 6.5. He also runs After Effects and Photoshop on his PCs, as well as Photoshop on a Macintosh for more serious still photo needs.
"1 Beyond appealed to me as a turnkey system; I'm a driver, not a mechanic," says Morse. "The system is easy to use and intuitive. I started with a non-realtime system and now more than 90 percent of what I do is realtime. Terry has created a system that optimizes the software and hardware available today, and he offers great technical support."
Morse's client list includes Boston's prestigious Wang Center for the Performing Arts, Wheaton College, Harvard University and New England Sinai Hospital. An 18-month project for MIT's Lincoln Laboratory marked the institution's 50th anniversary.
Wes Morgan, pictured with his DPS Velocity 8.2, works out of his home. He cut this promo spot for the Bass Anglers Sportsmen's Society.
He and Federico Muchnik are currently working on a feature-length documentary, Secret Courage: The Walter Suskind Story, which had its roots in a profile of philanthropist and Holocaust survivor Dr. Maurice Vanderpol for the Wang Center. Vanderpol and his wife Netty were interested in recognizing and commemorating Suskind who, working with Dutch Resistance groups, saved nearly 1,000 Jewish children and several thousand adults from deportation to Nazi death camps. The filmmakers are seeking funding for completion of the documentary and are looking for PBS, cable or theatrical distribution.
TWO GUYS, '33 ACRES'
Filmmakers Luke Meyer and Branch Rothschild, whose company is called Of Seven Thousand www.ofseventhousand.250free.com/, are presently in post on the documentary 33 Acres, about the conversion of a neighborhood in the Maplewood municipality of St. Louis to a mammoth Wal-Mart shopping center. They shot the documentary on DV last year and will continue adding new footage through next fall.
"The story was unfolding as we shot last summer," says Meyer. "We've been playing with a couple of outlines; there's a certain chronology to get across, and we need to develop characters so viewers can relate to and care about the people they're watching."
Meyer and Rothschild have set up an Avid Xpress Pro edit suite in a portion of their St. Louis apartment. The software runs on a laptop and they have several external drives. At press time the filmmakers had begun digitizing footage and were to start intercutting extensive interview footage with clips of demolition and construction.
"I've found Avid software to be the least problematic and most intuitive editing software I've tried," Meyer says. "Xpress DV and Xpress Pro are designed to handle DV footage, which is ideal for us. It's amazing how, with the introduction of DV, editing software can be used on laptops. Ease of use doesn't even begin to describe it compared to how things used to work. We can edit a small series of clips without the external drives in a coffee shop, a library, wherever we need to be. Everything is possible." Meyer acknowledges that "this project probably wouldn't be happening if not for the technology" which permits him and Rothschild to work inexpensively but at a high quality at the same time. "If we had to rent an edit suite, we couldn't do it," he observes.