Greetings from a lounge chair sitting within view of a palm tree-lined beach and the Pacific Ocean.? We just finished a tasty breakfast (egg, veggie, and bacon frittata with orange juice and locally grown Maui coffee) and are now lounging poolside before lunch. It?s a rough life for sure.
Those who know me will attest that I?m a pretty driven guy ? always got multiple projects going, always making plans.? Usually, I?m the one who goes on vacation and always has to be doing something or going somewhere.? Go go go go.
Except this time.? I, my wife, and another couple are spending a week in Maui with the specific goal of doing very, very little.? So far, so good ? yesterday we walked along the beach coastline, hung out in the surf, drank maitais with lunch, sat around our condo, barbecued ribs and zucchini for dinner, and sat on our lanai (Hawaii-speak for ?balcony?) talking until we retired for the evening.? Today promises to be much the same.
I?m very aware that other people?s vacations to Hawaii tend towards much more activity.? They get up at 5am, go mountain biking for 3 hours before breakfast, then drive to the sea cliffs where they go rock climbing, then paddle a kayak to the next beach to cook lunch over a campfire, then take a helicopter tour to the top of oceanside cliffs from which they go cliff diving.? Afterwards they go into town to the nearest bar that has a DJ and dance until the wee hours of the morning.
Oy.? I?m getting tired just imagining it.
When it comes to vacation, certain people are obvious adrenaline junkies.? But did you know there are adrenaline junkies in the editing world too?
Have you ever seen the end of a live show like American Idol and enjoyed the montage of all the singers? performances that just happened minutes earlier?? Have you ever watched the Super Bowl or World Cup games and seen the final compilation of the best moments of the broadcast put together to a high-energy piece of music?? All those montages were put together by an editor in a matter of minutes, sometimes with mere seconds to spare before dropping in the final shot and beginning live playback.? To do that, you gotta be good at your job ? you have to be fast, and you have to be accurate. If you?ve ever been inside a control room during a live broadcast, you?ll know that it requires a lot of concentration to do your job.? You?re expected to be perfect, because mistakes often end up being very obviously seen or heard often by millions of people.? Mistakes reflect poorly on you, the whole crew, and the entire television network, so live television is often very stressful.? People yell, scream, and regularly get fired and then rehired after the show finishes for the day.
I?ve done some quick-turn editing for live tv myself, and it?s a blast. ?One time, the AKC (American Kennel Club) National Championship Dog Show was airing for 3 hours on 2 consecutive nights live on both Discovery Channel and Animal Planet.? We were at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, California. For three days leading up to the live show, I and a couple other editors had been cutting away on our Avids in the edit truck while everyone built the sets in the main venue, prepped for the live show, and produced little video packages displaying how truly odd dog people can be.? (But not as odd as Cat People.? I?ve also done shows about them too.? Eeeee.)
On the two nights of the live shows, I was responsible for cutting 30-second bumpers that featured the specific dogs that had just won their specific categories.? Our assistant editor was capturing the live feed from the production truck, and I would see each dog as it won.? I?d fill each hole and then wait for the final winning dog to be announced ? instantly after the judge?s announcement, the assistant editor stopped the capture, and I opened up the bin that contained the newly created clip.? I shuttled through the clip looking for the shot, marked it, and dropped it into my sequence.? Since it was playing under multiple layers of graphics, I hit ?render effect? and waited. The post producer stood anxiously over my shoulder, waiting for the render to finish.? It finished, I opened up the output tool, and I output the sequence to tape.? The instant the red ?record? button turned off on the tape deck, the post producer grabbed the shuttle control on the deck, spun the tape backward to the beginning of the reel to make sure the output was successful.? He punched ?eject? on the deck, grabbed the tape, and bolted out the door of the edit truck, SPRINTING across the broadcast compound to the back door of the? production control truck.? Surrounded by waveform monitors, tape decks, and hard drives, the playback engineer grabbed the tape, slammed it into deck #3, and cued it up to 2 seconds, 60 frames before the bumper began.? As the live broadcast approached its commercial break, the assistant director called out ?stand by VT-3 for playback ? in 15? 10?? The director spoke into the intercom ?ready effect to VT-3.?? The technical director?s finger punched the button labeled ?VT-3? amid hundreds of other buttons on his broadcast switcher, routing the still frame from the deck into the Preview monitor in front of the director. The on-camera announcer finished her sentence: ??and we?ll be right back after this.?? The director intoned ?roll VT-3?, and the playback engineer hit the ?play? button on videotape deck #3.? One second later, the director said ?effect to VT-3,? the technical director hit the button on the switcher that triggered a computer-generated transition to the perfectly-timed video feed from deck #3 that went full frame onto the Program feed.? Parked 12 feet away from the production control truck was the satellite uplink truck that took that live program feed from Long Beach, California, almost instantly bouncing it up to a communication satellite orbiting over 20,000 miles above the surface of the earth.? That satellite almost as instantly bounced that program feed back down to a satellite dish in Sterling, Virginia, outside network master control for Discovery Communications.? Master control then bounced that signal through their own cable and satellite distribution network, allowing that feed to almost instantly flow through millions of television sets?
?including the broadcast cable feed in the edit truck back in Long Beach. I stood with a grin on my face, watching the 30-second piece of video that had existed only on my Avid until mere minutes ago.? The post producer, having returned from his sprint to the control truck, gave me a high five. ?We had 2 minutes to spare,? he told me with a grin.? We not only delivered perfectly, we had delivered ahead of schedule.
Meanwhile, in households across the world watching the Discovery Channel or Animal Planet, that same 30 seconds of television flashed up on millions of television sets?
?whose owners had already left to grab another Diet Coke from the kitchen.
Cutting for live tv is a rush, all right.? It?s a blast.? And there are many editors in live television who live for that rush.? They get every bit as much a kick out of cutting tv with only seconds to spare as they?d get from jumping off a cliff in Hawaii.
Which brings me to my latest question ? why do you edit?
Are you like the live tv guys who do it for the rush?? Are you like the seasoned film editors who contemplatively make each cut in the process of creating art? Do you edit because it?s your job and provides you a paycheck?? Do you edit because you want to eventually make money at it?? Do you do it for no other reason than you love it?? Or maybe a mix?
Pick your top reasons in our mini poll below. ?I?m curious.
And now, back in Maui? I don?t see myself going cliff diving on this trip.? We came to Hawaii to chill the heck out, and that?s what we?re gonna do.? Now if you?ll excuse me, I?m gonna go order myself a maitai.
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