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September 2014
Issue: October 1, 2006

EDIT THIS! - A NEW EDITORS RETREAT PLANNED FOR MIAMI

By: Ken McGorry

NEW YORK — Future Media Concepts, founded and managed by Ben Kozuch and Jeff Rothberg, and based here, has forged a successful business providing professional training in the post production arts while also producing off-site educational conference sessions and other events, including innovative podcasting summits. This one-two punch has helped the partners’ training business thrive (www.FMC training.com) and FMC’s educational conferences have become an added destination at the annual NAB in Las Vegas. Kozuch and Rothberg have extended that model in association with the NAB for this month’s NAB NY show at the Javits Center for a second consecutive year.

For many years until 2003, Avid produced popular Master Editor Workshops — elite off-site gatherings offering high-end instructional content and plenty of networking for Avid editors operating at the top of their game. A lot of editors remember those sessions fondly and some are now planning to attend a new kind of high-end workshop — the recently announced Editors Retreat next January 24 through 28, which is also an FMC production in association with the NAB.

But a lot has changed in the editing world in recent years. For one, there’s the growing acceptance of Adobe and Apple editing and effects tools — tools so prevalent that FMC refers to their primary educational focus on editing as “the three A’s”: Adobe, Apple and Avid. “They are the industry leaders in the editing space,” says Kozuch.

The new Editors Retreat will offer some of the zeitgeist of the Avid Workshops while opening things up to pros who work with any or all of the three toolsets. Plus, Kozuch and company have built in plenty of fun activities for pros on a long winter weekend in South Florida. The Retreat (www.EditorsRetreat.com) will be held at the Deauville Beach Resort — a classic Art Deco-style hotel/resort complex on the beach in Miami and adjacent to South Beach. “The Beatles had a show there when they were in the States in the ‘60s,” says Kozuch, adding that the resort and rooms have been newly updated.

HIGH-END TALENT

The Retreat is conceived as a high-quality event — the attendees are limited in number to around 75. “We have very strict rules of acceptance,” says Kozuch, who is the Retreat’s conference chair. “There’s a two-step registration process. First the application: you have to show at least five years of extensive experience in editing; you have to provide business references and a reel or online clip. Then you go through a committee that decides if you are suitable or not.” Some “insiders” who get an automatic “in” include Avid Master Editor alumni; certified Adobe, Apple and Avid instructors; and FMC conference speakers.

The event, which starts on a Wednesday and finishes the following Sunday, offers two different kinds of keynote speakers — creative editors and software-makers from the three A’s.

The editors who will keynote are all award-winners: Stuart Bass, ACE (specializing in TV sitcoms), Chris Franklin (commercials) and Alan Heim, ACE president (feature film). Each of three morning breakfasts offers a talk by a high-level executive from Apple (Steve Bayes), Avid (Michael Phillips) or Adobe (Jim Guerard).

Additional elite editing professionals will be speaking, presenting and appearing on panels and in high-end workshops. Paula Heredia (HBO), Oliver Peters and Abba Shapiro will present, to name a few, as well as a host of senior FMC instructors who will be conducting high-end technical workshops.

There are also six or seven “peer presentations” planned, Kozuch says. “We’ve selected people who have done interesting projects to demonstrate them to the group.”

Avid had maintained its Master Editor program through the ‘90s but asked FMC to produce the last event in 2003. Recently Kozuch hit on the idea of a new program for top editors, this time encompassing all three A’s of NLE. All three software manufacturers got on board as Retreat sponsors. “They are all clear that this is not a product shoot-out,” Kozuch adds, “there won’t be any competitive analysis or price-comparison sessions. This is about the craft, the art, the business of being an editor or running a boutique, regardless of platform.” The tone of the new Editors Retreat will be kept “creative and fun” and the treatment of the three toolsets and its proponents will be egalitarian.

In addition to Adobe, Apple and Avid’s sponsorship, Post Magazine is the Retreat’s Media Sponsor and American Cinema Editors is a Silver Sponsor.

APPEALING TO THE INDUSTRY'S BEST

The Editors Retreat schedule is carefully planned to appeal to high-end editors — no neophytes need apply — with a good amount of relaxation and networking time in the evenings.

Mealtimes also provide opportunities for professional growth. “All the meals at this event have content,” Kozuch says. Wednesday’s dinner offers a presentation on a big Editors Retreat theme: “The Evolving Role of the Editor.”

Lunch presentations have titles like “Lunch and Learn: What Happens When You Just Don’t Have the Right Footage?” and “Best Compression Tips.” Other sessions focus on color grading, sound design, HD work and running one’s own business. There are also master class tracks broken down for Adobe, Apple and Avid toolsets offering advanced tips and tricks. The dining room will also feature a “mini expo,” including a limited number of tabletop technology presentations from companies whose software supports the three A’s toolsets.

One intriguing session, “Our Dailies, Your Take” on Saturday, will involve attendees’ own cuts of film material (provided two months in advance on DVD) from the independent film Winter People. The film’s editor, David Bigelow, will compare attendees’ versions of a scene to his own in the final cut of the film.

Everything conducted on-site at the Deauville, as well as a Friday night social outing, is included in the admission fee. (One night offers a “professional poker tournament — complete with funny money — to add to the social atmosphere and enhance networking opportunities.) After dinner on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, a private cinema with bar becomes the site of the Editors Pub, which will mix beer and pizza with “peer reel critique” and “experts tables” offering “live tech support for the masters” (www.editorsretreat.com/schedule.htm). Here, Kozuch says, an attendee can ask a tech master about a thorny editing problem and get useful answers and also enjoy some casual networking.

Saturday night allows unstructured free time for fun with South Beach nightlife.

“The Retreat is different from our NAB conferences since it places a greater focus on creativity, networking and the craft of editing,” Kozuch says. The attendees join a list-serv year round and will be able to support each other and provide business referrals as alumni of the old Avid Master Editor Workshops still do. Today, Kozuch stresses, editors need to work in environments where more than one NLE platform is in use.

KEYNOTER STUART BASS

Network TV comedy veteran Stu Bass, ACE, keynotes Thursday morning with a presentation on “deconstructing a TV program.” The Avid editor’s long credit list includes The Wonder Years and, more recently, The Office. He won an Emmy this year for cutting Arrested Development and he’s currently working with Barry Sonnenfeld on Notes From the Underbelly. Although TV producers can be hands-on, Bass, working at the top of his game, says, “I’m pretty much left alone.”

For his presentation Bass will bring footage from shows that he has re-cut. “I’ll bring in early cuts and we’ll see how they evolved.”

Bass mostly does single-camera half-hour comedies. He contrasts his single-camera shows with I Love Lucy, Dick Van Dyke and the generation of live, multi-cam sitcoms that play “like a stage play, and you’re always looking in at the three walls. For the editing, it’s really about getting the rhythm of the joke and getting the actors right.” Single-camera shows allow a more personal point of view “because you’re no longer on a theatrical stage — you can see the world through their eyes. You’re not always just playing jokes.”

Still, all comedy is about timing, the right sound effects and how you use reactions; but, Bass adds, “sometimes just no reaction is hilarious — so often, nothing is something!”

Bass stresses that the editor’s job is a lonely one and that social interaction with fellow editors at an event like the Retreat “is an invaluable time to reach beyond the editing room and see what’s going on across the country. The Retreat is a great opportunity to connect with fellow humble, creative souls!”

HBO’S PAULA HEREDIA

New York-based editor Paula Heredia is an HBO veteran and Emmy winner for her documentary work on HBO’s In Memoriam 9/11. She’s currently editing a 90-minute special called Addiction on her Avid. Heredia will be presenting at the Editors Retreat, including a key luncheon topic: “What Happens When You Just Don’t Have the Right Footage?” This topic may sound counterintuitive since her recent challenge at HBO was to deal properly with an avalanche of material, in all kinds of formats, of fighting substance abuse — much of the content was created by noted documentarians. (The ultimate answer was to make additional Addiction segments available on HBO’s “on demand” service.) “It’s a major enterprise,” Heredia says, even though the material may come in pre-edited by the different filmmakers.

So how do you fill those “holes” in your roadmap where content and imagery are so important? “Clarity of thought is important” in such serious work, she says, “and you reach for other devices such as text onscreen.” Also, recurring “characters” can play a helpful role in some segments. Heredia credits color man John Dowdell’s work at Goldcrest on Quantel’s Pablo system for providing visual consistency to Addiction’s varied segments. Sound designer Stuart Stanley is also high on Heredia’s list for providing the audio impact for Addiction and many more of her jobs.

Heredia supports the Editors Retreat because, without such gatherings, editors’ access to key information is “scattered,” while the Retreat will help attendees systematize what they learn. She stresses that this presents an opportunity to join a supportive community and to listen to other top editors share their frustrations and successes in the art of storytelling.

ABBA SHAPIRO'S MACRO VIEW

Among other topics, Maryland-based Abba Shapiro will be speaking on “The Evolving Role of the Editor.” He started in corporate production in 1980 and picked up on editing when he formed his own company (www.shapirovideo.com) in the mid-‘90s, gaining experience in linear video editing and then Avid nonlinear editing. Later, Shapiro became an early adopter of Final Cut Pro and went on to be certified by Apple as an instructor and later as an FCP certifier himself.

“I think what I bring to the Retreat is a pretty ‘macro’ view of the industry because I had to have my hands in a little bit of everything. If you want to stay busy, you are becoming a jack of many trades.” Final Cut is no longer sold as an editing app, Shapiro says, “now you have to buy the suite [Final Cut Studio].” This means editors are getting a multipurpose tool that provides graphics, effects, audio apps and more.

MICHAEL CHAPMAN

Mike Chapman is a veteran Avid Master Editor Workshop attendee and is looking forward to the Retreat. “It’s not often that we get to cross-pollinate and share our experiences and techniques with our fellow editors,” he says.

A longtime pro, Chapman joined video and new media company DigiNovations (www.diginovations.com) in Concord, MA, in July. There, he is senior editor but that’s a small part of duties that encompass managing shared storage systems and more. On the technical side, Chapman wants to be able to cut through the barrage of technical information that showers editors each day. He intends to “focus on things that help you be better, faster, more creative within the craft.”

Regarding the editor’s changing role, he says, “I have to know a bit about graphics, about audio mixing and sweetening, about color correction, quite a bit about computers and compression for Web delivery, and keep up with new iterations of editing software and occasionally, hardware.”

Still, between reasonably-priced tools and increasing demand for content, Chapman says, “there’s never been a more exciting time to be an editor.”