Awesome in Austin (No, Before SXSW)

Mon, Mar 26, 2012

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending the 6th Annual Editors Retreat in Austin, Texas. The five-day conference is held in a different city every year and attracts professional video and film editors from a wide variety of experience and work environments. I work as a video editor here at the Wexner Center's Film Video Studio Program, where for 15 years I've been helping video artists and filmmakers see their work to completion. I've always known how special our residency program is offering in-kind support of our post-production facilities and editors. I thought it would be a good idea to network with other like-minded individuals who face many of the same challenges each and every day. So I applied for an Ohio State University Staff Development Grant to attend the conference and ended up getting it!

The conference was held at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Austin. We were a few blocks from 6th St., where all the cool stuff happens. But we were so busy at the conference there was little time to venture out.

There were over 80 attendees at the conference from all over the world. There were even two other guys from Columbus who work for Abercrombie. Some attendees weren't editors though. Some were videographers and producers. The retreat is sponsored by Future Media Concepts, a New York‒based company specializing in all things training in the world of video post production.

Technology was the main thing on everyone's mind. There were representatives from such companies as AJA, GTech, Grass Valley, Apple, and Adobe.... I attended many demonstrations of hardware and software tips and techniques. The presenters were fantastic, ultra talented and knowledgeable. I learned more than I want to know about the new Final Cut Pro X. I learned about mobile apps that are useful to editors and filmmakers. Some color correction experts gave a demonstration using the DaVinci system, which is amazing. GTech showed off their Thunderbolt hard drives, which are 12-times faster than FireWire 800 drives. They said that David Fincher wanted to edit The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in its native uncompressed 4K environment, and Thunderbolt technology made that happen. As a giveaway, GTech was offering a 12-TB Thunderbolt drive array to the winner of the annual editor's retreat poker tournament. I wasn't the lucky winner, but I did get a free Final Cut Pro X book.

One of the highlights for me was attending a presentation by Frank Serafine, who did the sound design on many big Hollywood films such as the first Star Trek movie, Poltergeist, Tron, and others. Listening to him discuss his process when designing a soundtrack was quite inspiring. Jay Rabinowitz gave a keynote speech on his career. He edited Dead Man (and many other Jim Jarmusch films), Requiem for a Dream, and The Tree of Life, to name just a few. Really nice guy who got his start by hounding Woody Allen's editor at the time and then eventually getting a job editing Jarmusch's Night on Earth. Rich Harrington, who presents many excellent tutorials for Creative Cow, gave great demonstrations on using Photoshop for video and some cool After Effects tips. Compressing video footage is something we have to do regularly, so I attended an informative discussion on that.

Of course we had to have a night out, so the organizers took us to see Office Space at the Alamo Draft House. They fed us a buffet of Texas BBQ and all the meat you could eat. BBQ and beans and beer: generally I wouldn't want to sit in a small movie theatre with a bunch of guys who've been eating BBQ and beans and washing it down with beer, but how could I resist the screening of Office Space, complete with karaoke callbacks. And there was a feature where you could send a text message and your message would appear on the screen while the movie was playing. So of course there were a lot of text messages joking about how the movie was edited and so on. After the screening we had the opportunity to smash a copy machine just like in the movie! Out to the parking lot we went, put on a helmet and swung away! Many joked that they were really swinging at the new version of Final Cut Pro.

After five days of networking, note taking, talking shop, and learning, learning, learning. I was ready fly back to Ohio but I wasn't ready to leave Austin's sunny 75-degree temperatures. Many thanks to the university's Staff Development Grant office and my colleagues at the Wexner Center for making this happen for me.

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