Issue: March 1, 2007


MIAMI - What most concerns top professional editors about their work? What's most likely to elicit a cringe? If you were a fly on the wall at the recent Editors Retreat, here, one gripe that kept coming up was bad audio.

See, it's a known fact that viewers will watch a program with superior audio production longer than they'd watch the exact same show with inferior audio. As Microsoft's Ben Waggoner phrased it, "People will stop watching a clip that sounds horrible quicker." (Waggoner's presentation was on encoding video for the iPods and the very small screen.)

It was also brought up at this convocation that, when consumers are asked to choose "which video feed is in HD?" they will most often overlook the true HD and pick the standard-def feed if it has better audio reproduction.

The moral - to look good you have to sound good. And that's what talented video editors are being asked to do today - make their work sound good as well as look good. One speaker at the Retreat was Sound One's Coll Anderson on the topic "Sound as Character - Sound Design."

The Editors Retreat ( was the first such production in a few years for Future Media Concepts (, a company which had staged Avid Master Editor programs in the past and rejuvenated the format this year by embracing Adobe and Apple along with Avid users. (The three companies were also sponsors.)  FMC also produces the Post Production World Conference annually at NAB.

The Retreat's aim was to bring in speakers who are specialists at the top of their game and have them present to seasoned editing pros with at least five years in the business. Speakers included Stuart Bass, ACE, who deconstructed an episode of his work on Arrested Development; Chris Franklin, who picked apart his recent composite-heavy job for American Express starring Ellen Degeneres; Abba Shapiro on editing an idie film; Steve Audette on editing WGBH's documentary series, Frontline; and Rich Harrington of RHED Pixel, speaking about how best to start up and successfully run a small post business. Alan Heim, ACE, who won the editing Oscar for All That Jazz, also spoke.

Another big topic was the pressure brought to bear by producers looking to get the most out of their editor and their edit sessions.  Shapiro spoke on the topic "The evolving role of the editor" and rattled off an ever-lengthening list of tasks, both highly sophisticated and mundane, that editors are now expected to provide.

One, as presenter Oliver Peters told the group, is color correction.  All "the three A's" (Avid, Apple and Adobe) have editing systems with useful built-in color correction, he says. Peters likes Colorista, a low-cost FCP plug-in from Magic Bullet (, but warns, "the more you stack, the slower it gets, and you have to render."

FMC's Ben Kozuch says that the event went well enough to begin planning another for next year. But sign up early; FMC will accept no more than 75 attendees at this affair, and your reel needs to pass a peer review.