How long have you been editing with Chainsaw?
I have been at Chainsaw five years. Prior to Chainsaw, I was with The Post Group for more than 15 years, and Laser-Pacific before that.
Having worked in the industry for over 30 years, what are the main highlights that come to mind?
Working on high-profile events like the Academy Awards, The Kennedy Center Honors and The Primetime Emmys have been enormously fun and rewarding. Working on live shows in general gives you an adrenaline rush you just can’t get elsewhere. Delivering a package within minutes of airtime demands that you be at the top of your game. I’ve also had the good fortune of a wonderfully broad career, working on reality shows like The Amazing Race, Survivor and America’s Got Talent as well as a variety of scripted episodics going all the way back to Cheers and The Wonder Years -- back in the linear days.
Have you a favourite client you have worked with?
Kevin Mueller is the Post Producer of The Amazing Race. He and I both started on the show in Season 5 and now we’re just starting Season 27. He is the perfect blend of the producer who’s totally on top of things, knows what he wants and needs, knows how to get it, knows what’s logistically feasible, and knows the costs associated with it. He’s savvy and driven, yet flexible and willing to work around other clients when necessary. I wish all my clients were cut from that same cloth.
In terms of Avid Media Composer, what is it you love about it?
I’ve heard it said that the definition of the best software is that which you know best. You know how to leverage its strengths and work around its weaknesses. Fluently. Instinctively. I love Media Composer, but not simply because it’s what I know best. I love it because it does more of the things I need to do every day while under pressure, in a big, collaborative environment. Media Composer has all the under-the-hood aspects of editing down cold; metadata, shared projects, multiple users, etc., leaving me free to sweat the more creative aspects of editing and getting a finished product out the door. That’s what I love about Media Composer.
What’s your top editing tip?
Keyboard, keyboard, keyboard. Creativity is nice. But creativity within the client’s budget and deadline is what makes you an editor and not a hobbyist. The more keyboard shortcuts and customization you use, and the less mouse/tablet/trackball you use, the faster you are. And, as a bonus, in this era when virtually every producer you work with has at least a passing knowledge of the software you’re using, it’s nice to keep a bit of mystery to exactly what and how you do what you do. Your client sitting behind you can’t really follow along; he just sees you hitting a whole lot of keys really, really quickly and then magic ensues.
When did you realize editing was what you wanted to do for a living?
My first job out of college was producing, writing, directing, and editing a documentary about tagging in the inner city. I loved all the pre-production and production, but post was where it really came together and became something of which I was truly proud. Taking a project with considerable shortcomings (unfortunately I had no one to blame but myself on this one) and finding creative, sometimes tangential solutions was exhilarating. Making something out of nothing, or better still, making something better that’s already pretty damn good — that is a thrill that never gets old.
The editing industry is ever changing, are there any pros or cons about this for you?
The whole democratization-of-technology-thing that lets anybody do what I do in his or her garage is loathed by so many. But I love it. Those who don’t know the rules and therefore make amateurish mistakes don’t last long. Those who don’t know the rules and therefore make wildly inventive new ways to tell a story or innovate new workflows push guys like me to do the same. I think it’s good to be pushed a little. Another pro about the ever-changing industry is the cocktail of applications out there. I love learning new tools, but more than that, I love figuring out how to make all those new tools work with each other so they are actually applicable and valuable to me in real life. It’s a fun Rubik’s Cube of solutions I get to solve every day.
Best thing about working at Chainsaw?
Corporate meets Boutique. I love that Chainsaw, now a part of The Sim Group, is a part of something big. We have the resources of a large, corporate entity; deep pockets for big purchases, big-time intellectual capital, tremendous packaging and deal-making abilities; yet we’re still the small, no-one-gets-lost-in-the-shuffle boutique that Bill DeRonde and Mike Polito started more than 15 years ago. Though they’re both clearly savvy businessmen, they still come in to work everyday and sit down at their own Media Composer keyboards. Their passion for editing is as strong now as it ever was. Because the owners of the company are “one of us,” they get it. They are incredibly responsive to our needs and desires. They make us wonderfully nimble and agile in an always-evolving industry.
In your own words, what do you think about the Avid Media Composer backlit keyboard?
I love that I can keep working with maximum ease and efficiency even when I have my room dark for client screenings and outputs. Keeping my bay color-neutral is crucial, and the backlit keyboard helps me do that without compromising my productivity.
If there could be anything invented to make your job easier what would you like to see made?
Perhaps an artificial intelligence kind of software that analyzes a piece of media — QT, MXF, any kind of file — and determines its frame rate and resolution and spits out a matrix of how best to homogenize it all in the project in I’m finishing. Yes, there are solutions that partially do that, by converting files into the type of frame rate and resolution I desire, but it’s a best guess, and it’s often wrong. It then requires me to track the original file down and re- ingest it differently so I can do my own conversion to optimize the results. I’d love a solution that doesn’t bake in any kind of conversion, so I maintain maximum control.
And finally, 3 words to describe Randy Magalski?
Inventive. Anticipatory. Passionate.