Advertisement
Current Issue
November 2014
Issue: December 1, 2009

SWOT: ALPHADOGS TURNS THREATS INTO OPPORTUNITIES

Terry Curren
Principal
AlphaDogs
Burbank, CA
(www.alphadogs.tv)

AlphaDogs is a multi-room facility that handles a lot of cable work, particularly reality programming. The studio is posting Project Runway and Models of the Runway, and recently handled color correction on a History channel special that looks at Lee Harvey Oswald assassin Jack Ruby. AlphaDogs has four Avid Symphony systems, two graphics room, two Pro Tools audio bays, an Apple Color room, three Final Cut Pro finishing rooms, and 10 rooms with a choice of FCP or Media Composer.

STRENGTHS: “We already have tried and proven methods that can be carried over to new workflows. We already know how to do  storytelling by editing. We know how to make sound good. We know how to handle media management and do color correction. We have that skill set and can carry that to new workflows easily.

“Another strength for post production is the ability to solve problems and create workable solutions for workflows. Also, the toolsets: We have phenomenal toolsets available to us, which we’ve never had. Historically, this is an apex for us right now. You can create anything!”

WEAKNESSES: 1 - “I see several weaknesses: The biggest one is our inability to educate the end user to [the] value [we] add. If the kids are happy watching a piece of crap on YouTube, it doesn’t really matter that I can make something look really good because of my years of experience color correcting and editing. How do we educate people to that value? When we do things right with color, it impacts the story. And when you edit it right, it makes things more interesting. You get more engrossed.

“It works backwards. If the end user is happy with whatever comes down the line, the the client is not going to  pay for it to be better. I’m coming from the old school, where I want it to look as good as I can. But, that’s less and less these day. It’s the ‘K-Mart-ization’ of America. If the end user is happy with ‘It’s good enough,’ you lose the fine furniture makers and you lose us.

2 - “One big weakness in general is archiving. You can still look at a Charlie Chaplin film from 100 years ago. What are you going to do with stuff on P2 cards or a hard drive in 10 years?

3 - “Another thing is lack of solidarity. I do the Editors Lounge, and people ask me, ‘So you open up your facility to all of these people from other facilities to see how you do things?’ But I don’t look at it that way. I look at it like, if we can’t all make this thing work out, we’re all screwed anyway. I think that’s a big weakness, that due to the competition, we don’t do as much sharing as we should.

“We’re still in business and it’s not like being open to people has killed us. Most of the people who attend are direct competition for us.

4 - “[Another weakness is] not thinking out side of the box. In our industry there are a lot of people who are stuck in the past. They have to face the reality that it’s not going to be like it was. Those days are over. Rates are never going to be as high as they used to be. It’s a different kind of market. There is going to be less high-quality product. So you have to start thinking, ‘Where else can I apply my talents and add value?’ I came to the conclusion years ago that what I am being paid for is to be ‘the expert.’”

OPPORTUNITIES: “I force myself to learn everything that comes up. And I get calls constantly from people asking me for the solutions. That does pay off, not necessarily right then, but down the line because somebody remembers: ‘He helped me out. Maybe I can bring him something.’ It’s karma.

1 - “I see globalized post — spreading expenses around the globe. Using the best talent for various parts of the process regardless of where they are geographically. You can have an animator in the Philippines and a sound guy in India. We’re really on the verge and there’s so many people working on tools to make this seamless right now. And the bandwidth is getting there. I think we are on the verge of that. It’s not going to be that you are going to a Burbank post house, it’s you’re going to a post house, and the product will be done at the end and you will be happy with it, and where and how it all gets done is gonna be vastly different than in the past. Everyone doesn’t have to be in the same building.

“I’m trying to look at this as an opportunity because I’ve been warning other editors about this for years. As soon as producers and directors get used to not having to be in the edit bay, that edit bay can be anywhere in the world. How can I be a part of that process?

2 - “New distribution outlets creating more potential clients. The Internet has opened up a world of opportunity – iPhones and iPods, and everybody else’s mobile phones. This is rich media spread all over the world all the time and without a high cost of entry.

3 - “Digital Service Station – we created [this] to allow guys editing at home to capture off of tape. We’re doing transfer to and from file types. It’s going to have to be monetized because there is labor and skill and hardware involved. It can be automated somewhat, but if you are buying something like that you have to pay for it somehow. We have [partnerships with studios in] Culver City, San Francisco, Colorado, Chicago, Ohio and Florida.”

THREATS: “The outsourcing and the ability to do that. I can’t do anything about that. If someone is going to use a lower cost editor in India, who is going to handle the translation of the pipeline? The stuff being done by assistants editors — culling the footage and logging the footage, and doing rough cut — that kind of stuff can all be offloaded to somebody who’s working for $10 a day instead of $35 an hour. And I can see that happening first.”

OUTLOOK FOR 2010: “The year ahead is going to be interesting. Basically, the back end of this year has been deadly, pretty much across the board. I know some of the larger facilities in town are down 30-40 percent. I think we are going to see doors closing in the next few years.

“The general feeling is that all the money that is going to be spent, has been spent, so nothing is going to happen until next year. A lot of people are pinning their hopes that if they can survive until January, that things will start to pick up. I don’t know. I would not want to bank on that. We do a lot of reality TV and that will never go away, apparently.”