Outlook: Establishing new benchmarks for collaboration
Jay Nelson
Issue: November/December 2020

Outlook: Establishing new benchmarks for collaboration

In the dawn of nonlinear editing (historians speak of this time), every workday was accompanied by a lingering fear that at any given moment, the editing computer was going to bug out on you. Not the simple kind, the awful kind. And suddenly there are five people sitting on a couch staring at you, fresh from a shoot in New York, while you nervously lifted the door off your massive CPU and started pulling out blocks of old-timey RAM in blind futility. This could take days. And then email, the internet, less expensive tools and postings...that nagging fear quietly, gradually vanished, and I forgot about it for two decades. And then 2020.

Once again the fear has returned, but now the unstable life-line that determines our daily fate is a reliable connection to the internet. Pro-edit-people have had to quickly incorporate new tools into the client-flow. Just as drought, flat surf, empty pools, and the development of silicon wheels birthed modern skateboarding, similar ecosystem transformations have created demands in post that didn’t exist before March. 

While companies like Facebook were poised with a massive marketing push for their Groups platform and a Super Bowl strategy two months before lockdown (which is a heck of a coincidence), companies like Zoom and Evercast have struggled to keep up with demand and development as these tools become an essential part of our everyday workflow. Concepts exist to evolve our process to new heights, but implementation is slow and ingenuity is lacking. Editing with stability for client review takes four applications to deliver a shared experience, plus decent internet bandwidth. There’s far too much room for error. 

I am not a think-tanking sooth-sayer. But, as an editor who travelled a lot, I am certain I will travel again, just not as much. We will continue to adapt to meet the needs of our clients and deliver results. What we truly need to evolve the process and make use of lessons learned during this temporary period of isolation — like haptic multi-touch media interaction and editing in a virtual space with clients anywhere in the world — cannot come soon enough. Pre, post, production — we’re all at the mercy of our technology providers and their products once again. But shocks to the system such as these always prompt leaps of innovation. Oculus and Premiere or Avid have an opportunity to revolutionize ways to meet in a virtual space and edit “together” and, in doing so, truly pioneer a new dimension of filmmaking in post. This is a callout and an appeal for their help in establishing a new benchmark for collaboration — a viable new way to do what we love. It’s time for that sort of revolution.

Jay Nelson is an Editor and Partner at Cut+Run (https://cutandrun.com), which has studios in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin and the Mid-West.