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September 2014
Issue: January 1, 2005

WHEN THE CLIENT BECOMES THE COMPETITION

By: By Ken McGorry
Anybody in doubt that post production was heading inside the client's doors got a clearer picture three years ago when Showtime's marketing division furnished about 40 promo-creating producers with Final Cut Pro so they could sketch out their ideas for the endless array of programming promotion the cablenet needs to produce. Over the years, post pros have frequently named growth of in-house editing by ad agencies as one of the biggest threats to their business.

Today it's much more of a reality, as Chris Bunish's feature in this issue attests. What's more, there are even a few in-house editorial operations at ad agencies that will do work for outside clients, further adding to the gloomy prediction that the client could one day become the competition.

So what?s the answer? As always, it's talent.

Agency creative directors still see experienced editors as a trusted, creative lynchpin in the development of spots or campaigns. Yes there are some agencies with extraordinary exceptions, such as Weiden & Kennedy's in-house Joint, but typically the editor, especially an in-demand cutter with lots of industry awards, wants to be part of an outside shop that attracts plenty of diverse work from lots of different agencies (rather than allowing one's life's work to hinge on whatever clientele a single agency can attract). Lynchpin editors are relied upon to offer candid opinions of creative choices - they're not employees, they're outside specialists called in on the case. And visual effects houses often rely on such editors to recommend their services or even hire them outright for a commercial.

As Chris Bunish's feature points out, agency creatives value face time with certain talented service providers, and that usually includes telecine colorists and audio mixers, along with the pivotal editors. In many respects, the workflow for commercial production - particularly big-ticket 35mm national campaigns - remains pretty similar to that of a decade ago. Except for the infiltration of those pesky low-cost "tools."

Just like with garage bands, if you have enough of them available you're bound to discover some great work. This issue's cover story explores the editing job done on Premiere Pro for the feature film "Dust to Glory." And as the television market continues to divide itself and advertising budgets and deadlines continue to compress, decision makers in advertising will look more carefully at those talented few who happen to work on laptops.