Issue: March 1, 2007


MIAMI BEACH - Future Media Concepts' recent revival of the Avid Master Class concept of yore scored a hit with the editors who attended a newly revamped five-day seminar here called the Editors Retreat. One big change this time around reflected an industry-wide change: Avid was joined at the Retreat by Apple and Adobe as equal-opportunity NLE tools, event sponsors, session presenters and objects of scrutiny.

A big draw for this event (www.editorsretreat.com), which attracted some 68 highly experienced editors specializing in all facets of the editing trade, was the guilty pleasure of being able to kick back for a few days with kindred spirits (and kick around can-you-top-this stories about the behavior of clients, directors and talent).


In addition to the variety of editing tools on hand at the Retreat was the variety of tasks editors are more often expected to provide these days. The job isn't just about cutting picture. These days more editors are expected to say "yes" as color grading, graphics and audio duties are shoveled together with distribution, multi-deliverables, duplication, DVD authoring, encoding/decoding, archiving and more.

Affordable NLEs from "the three A's" along with an expanding base of talented users has created a market where you have a lot of editors who either toil alone or with only a couple of co-workers. But these loners are not exempt from providing what today's client wants: in a word, everything. That's why one presentation, "The Evolving Role of the Editor," by Alan Heim and Abba Shapiro, rang true for so many attendees at this "Exclusive Summit for Experienced Editors." Heim is the president of the ACE and the Oscar-winning editor of All That Jazz. Shapiro is a veteran editor and head of Shapiro Video & Multimedia who writes, directs and produces, too.

Adobe, Apple and Avid each had representatives speak on various mornings at the retreat. Avid's breakfast speaker was Michael Phillips, who addressed workflow and collaboration, metadata tracking and Avid's Interplay solution. Apple's Steve Bayes also helped solve workflow issues in his presentation, including new HD workflows and X-san's flexible topology and scalability (supporting hundreds of clients).

One Adobe master class, presented by Marcus Geduld, involved After Effects and working in 3D space.


Shapiro also conducted a Final Cut class in which he demonstrated how he cut a short student film and saved its audio track in Soundtrack Pro. Its noise reduction cleaned up air conditioner noise. And Shapiro uses a Soundtrack Pro plug-in, Space Designer, to recreate on-set room ambience for future use in replacing salty dialogue for broadcast.

Audio was on everybody's mind at this event for picture editors. Retreat goers absorbed talks by experienced editors like sitcom cutter Stuart Bass and spot specialist Chris Franklin. Bass dissected an episode of Arrested Development and demonstrated how hard comedy really is.

"I was a plumber talking to plumbers," Franklin self deprecated after delivering nearly two hours on the editor's life and the efforts involved in making the recent two-minute Amex commercial starring Ellen Degeneres. The B&W piece (which exists in various shorter forms) uses the concept "work with animals" to depict the star prepping for an episode of Ellen in a production completely staffed by animals.

Franklin, of Big Sky Editorial in NYC, credits his VFX supervisor Ryan Sears with conjuring up ways to comp in all the creatures (great and small) without the benefit of greenscreen (couldn't fit it into Ellen's production offices). Sears rotoscoped the dozen or so animals into selects from a total of 40,000 feet of film from two motion control cameras and Franklin preferred that workflow to outsourcing the job.

Franklin, an Avid editor, is very focused on audio, too. "Sound is 70 or 80 percent of the job," he says. "Although nobody notices when it's there, they definitely notice when it's not!" Working with sound — even just scratch tracks — is a big part of editing, Franklin says: "I'm constantly adding sound effects, music, soundtrack; it allows me to hear where I am while I'm working. It's a huge help."

Steve Audette, senior Avid editor for WGBH's Frontline series, presented his work on a documentary on the pop music business. He too emphasized the importance of audio. He uses audio to "suck the viewer into the environment." He adds that "narration is your friend" but he may also stitch together disparate voices and sound bites to tell a story. Audette will mix a doc's audio partially in his Avid before sending it out to a post house for final audio.

"The Editors Retreat was launched to a great success and was attended by 68 top editors from the US and other countries," says FMC's Ben Kozuch (www.fmctraining. com), who produced the event with partner Jeff Rothberg. "Judged by attendees' feedback the event delivered everyone's expectations in regards to depth of sessions, networking opportunities and social activities," he adds.

FMC plans to make the Editors Retreat an annual event and dates and location for 2008 will be announced soon.

"When we talk with other editors, we talk craft," Franklin says. "You always come away knowing more."