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Kylee Peña's Blog

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Women are tired and I'm watching them leave post production

July 2018 edit: It's been about a year since I originally wrote this, and it's sparked endless conversations about paper cuts and microaggressions in the post production industry, and even a session with the Diversity Steering Committee at the Motion Picture Edito... last fall. This isn't a problem that's going away anytime soon, but when we talk about it we normalize it. We make it okay to be fed up and frustrated, and we make it essential to find each other and vent it out. I've updated this post a little bit with things I've learned since, and I hope it helps people to understand what women, especially non-white women, are facing in media industries.

For years I've been citing research about women leaving the post production industry in droves once they hit the glass ceiling and have had enough. A lot of people say women leave at this point because they're just not that interested in pursuing it any further or they wish to raise kids and start a family.

Their presence at this point isn't questioned or missed. Half the crowd says "what are you talking about, I work with tons of women" and the other half says "well, what can you do? Women just want to leave."

I'm on the verge of being 32. In what I've experienced of my thirties so far, I have met more women in my age bracket than ever who have changed careers or are seeking to make a change. And this change isn't prompted by unrest or a desire to try new things.

No way. These women? They're tired.

For years I've been citing research and anecdotes from people an arm's length away at least. Now I'm talking about my peers and seeing it happen first hand.

These women have spent the entirety of their twenties and then some trying to prove themselves like anyone does, but they've had to do it even harder. And once they proved themselves they had to KEEP proving themselves. (Yes, men also have to prove themselves. But not because the assumption is that they are naive and non-technical.)

They have had to work to command respect and be treated like peers and not subordinates.

They have had to remind the men (and women) around them that they aren't children but rather experienced professionals.

They've had to have uncomfortable conversations about their family planning strategies or future plans with bosses in order to shake any assumptions away that could destroy their careers.

They've had to constantly balance between being too ambitious or not wanting it hard enough.

They've had to find a way to be strong without being bossy.

They get stuck in assistant editor and coordinator and junior roles while their male peers are promoted more rapidly.

They're paid less for their work and given fewer benefits.

And they're supposed to be grateful for these opportunities.

Women show up at networking events and get hit on, so they have to think hard about what they're wearing and have a plan to leave when a stranger goes too far.

They get over-talked and interrupted during meetings, so they must strategize or force their hand and risk an issue with their tone.

Their opinions aren't taken seriously, so they must carefully craft and design every argument ahead of time.

They're infantilized by their coworkers and must find a way to demonstrate their experience and skills without insulting or threatening anyone.

Their experiences are put down by other women who have bought into the gender bias that pits women against each other.

And on top of all this, they've had to learn and grow as professionals in our industry, constantly meeting new people, finding more opportunities, and gaining new skills. On top of the normal stuff anyone has to do to make it in this industry, women have a whole separate agenda to focus on.

And it's not like we really want to do that. I would love to never speak about diversity ever again. I'd love to just focus on my tech work and build my skills and go home and play video games. But I can't stop talking about diversity until it's resolved.

I know what you're thinking. This industry is hard. Navigating your career is hard. Before you think these women can't cut it, think about this: if you're able to scale a mountain much quicker and easier than a person wearing 50 pound weights on their feet, would you say you're better or more worth of being at the summit than they are?

Because women pursue careers in post and technology with weights on their feet.

Let me give you an example of a simple interaction in your day that exhausts me. If you're a man, maybe you come up to me in the workplace to speak to me and place your hand on my back, a little lower than I would ever expect. You think nothing of it, and you return to your work. In the moment between when your hand touches and leaves my back, I enter a spiral of strategic decision-making: is he going to slide it down? What if he does? Should I ask him not to touch me? If I ask him that, will he think I'm overly sensitive and emotional? Will he tell my mostly male coworkers I over-react to simple things? Will they remember it, even subconsciously, when it's time for me to be promoted? Will I miss out on a key step upward in the company if that happens? Will I stunt my career growth externally? Will I be unable to meet my professional and financial life goals because of it? If I don't say something, am I being complicit in a rape culture? What if it keeps happening and sends a message? What do I do?

Maybe you think this is overly dramatic, but it's vital to every woman to think about the consequences of every interaction on the work life tight rope. And yes, it's incredibly exhausting for women.

And now these women are so tired and I'm watching them leave. They wouldn't leave if they weren't so spent. They would stay and use their incredible skills to tell the stories that need to be told with so many important perspectives.

This is the excessive emotional labor we put on women, which has been well-documented as a major stressor that wears women down. Tack on dealing with an industry with long days, egos, and tight deadlines, and it's a small wonder so many of us make it at all. And women's groups are no better: if technical women are the focus of any organization, it's usually as a requirement to apologize and make up for their own invisibility. Groups that support women in film and women in media really only support certain subsets of privilege women in high level roles, and place the emotional labor on already exhausted women to represent themselves.

Some dissent in the comments on the original posting of this blog mentioned that women being handed the biological task of having babies is just the way it is, and it means a lot more of them are going to leave their careers behind because they have other responsibilities.

It's true that many women do choose to leave employment to raise children. I think that's great. I think men and women both should have that choice presented to them. However, there is no path back into the industry for women who choose to do this. There are women who spent six years raising a son or daughter and wish to go back to work, but no employer will entertain the thought of hiring someone with a gap in employment, regardless of why or how much work they did to keep themselves up to date with their tools.

There is also the matter that there are women who will not choose to have children. You can't assume anything from anyone. Your management contingency plan for hiring women should be to treat them fairly, pay them equally, and restructure your workplace so they can thrive regardless of their choices.

But I can't shake this idea of shrugging off child birth as a simple fact of biology handed to women. There are so many women in this industry who have children and want to return to work within a year. A lot of them can't find a way to make it work, physically or emotionally, and leave. "Ah well," the employers say, "we can't help what responsibilities nature gave them."

We can grow human organs in dishes. We can replace lost arms and legs. We can perform transplants of nearly anything anymore. We can transfuse blood. We can perform c-sections. Biotechnology has never been more advanced -- and you're telling me we can't find a solution to helping mothers stay in their jobs when they choose to stay?

We all need to fight harder to make our workplaces more inclusive and welcoming. We need to do gender bias training. We have to aggressively seek out women to hire and provide a path for ascending within the industry. We need supportive organizations that are truly inclusive and focused.

Because if we don't have these diverse people working in an industry that is evolving and changing so rapidly, we're going to miss out on vital innovations that would allow it to be a sustainable business in the future.

But even worse, we're going to keep destroying passionate women who work hard to stake their claim in our industry. And no matter what that means for your business bottom line, it's plain wrong.


Further reading from me on this topic:

Sexism in Post

Open Letter to Companies Exhibiting at NAB

Sexism in Post podcast interview

Sexism in VFX podcast interview

Ten Questions on Gender Issues in Post

Gender Equality in Post Production

Posted by: Kylee Peña on Aug 6, 2018 at 10:17:34 pm women, post production, inclusion

An Emerging Editor's First Trip to New York: Sight, Sound, and Story Recap

Note: This blog was written by Brandon Marchionda, one of two recipients to be sent by Blue Collar Post Collective to New York City and Manhattan Edit Workshop's "Sight, Sound, and Story" educational event which highlights the life and work of top editors working in the industry today. Blue Collar Post Collective's Professional Development Accessibility Program identifies lower income emerging talent in post production and provides them an opportunity to attend important industry events where they can build their education and professional network to take the next step in their careers. It's important for emerging talent to be present in these spaces to remind everyone they belong there too. PDAP also provides an opportunity for the full-time working professionals who volunteer for BCPC to utilize their network to introduce emerging talent to people they should know in their field for one-on-one conversations.

BCPC owes a huge thanks to Manhattan Edit Workshop for providing entry to their event, the volunteer committee that helps us pair candidates with the best opportunities for them, Evan Schiff, Felix Cabrera, Rob G. Wilson, and the donors to BCPC whose funds go almost entirely toward this program.

Brandon is a recent graduate of Point Park University's Cinema Program. He's currently working full-time as a freelance editor in the Pittsburgh area while he saves up for the big move to LA next month. His education in Pennsylvania granted him the opportunity to learn the major tools and storytelling techniques, and programs like PDAP will help him make his landing in Los Angeles just a little bit softer. The rest of this entry is his recap.

Brandon Marchionda

The Blue Collar Post Collective Professional Development Accessibility Program is something I think everyone should consider applying for, especially when just starting out. I remember seeing the applications open for Sight, Sound and Story and thinking to myself that I would never get it. But then I kept seeing the posts about it and I did some research on the upcoming event. I said “Why not? The worst that could happen is I don’t get it.” So I applied through the form, which was the easiest application to fill out, and I waited. Not expecting to hear anything, I didn’t even bother to check my spam folder or anything until I received a message from a member of BCPC through Facebook Messenger about getting an email from the Collective. Immediately I lit up. “Did I get it? There’s no way.” I find the email and I read it. I got it.

Then BCPC literally took care of everything. More than I could have ever expected. I was set up with flights, a hotel, car service to and from the airports, and a ticket to the event.

I live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania currently (before the big move to LA in about a month or so) and it’s not too much trouble for me to get to NY and attend the event in theory. But with this program, I was able to save that money I would’ve spent going and put it towards that move. This program changes how you view these events from a “maybe” to a “I’m going."

Thanks to BCPC, I also I had the opportunity to meet great people and visit some awesome places.

Brandon's first time in NYC.

First, I met with Evan Schiff, editor of John Wick 3, to see the workflow of the film at its early stages. Just meeting and talking with Evan was one of the best conversations I have ever had. Seeing a feature film right in front of me made me realize none of this is out of reach. It’s entirely possible to become that feature film or television editor I’ve always dreamed of being.

Second, I met with Rob G. Wilson, assistant editor on Mr. Robot, who told me about his beginnings and the work he’s currently doing. He spoke of how he got there and it’s crazy to me that it’s simple as long as you try, work hard, and just be nice. He also introduced me to Kevin Tent, editor of The Descendants and Election, who gave such good advice and told some incredible stories.

Editor Kevin Tent ACE with BCPC board member Bobbie O'Steen

Then I went to Lost Planet for an editorial facility tour hosted by Felix Cabrera who gave me an insight to the entirety of what a post facility does. There’s a group here in Pittsburgh that does a lot of what they do, but not on the same scale. It’s incredible seeing the work they do and hearing the stories of some of the projects that have come through there.

Finally, I attended Sight, Sound and Story. This event was my first post production panel. Hearing the editors speak about their work was truly inspiring. No one on the panels looked like they hated it or were even annoyed with it. It was people speaking about the role they were most passionate about and it left me with a smile and this feeling of how much I can’t wait to get to edit, even though it means working my way up for years.

Sight, Sound, and Story

At Sight, Sound and Story, so much information is thrown at you. But it's like your favorite dessert and you can't get sick of it. You just keep listening and taking notes, hoping that one day you can be up on the panel giving advice and telling your stories. I never wanted it to end and it made me want to make my way to as many panels as I can in the future. I learned that no matter what you do, you keep cutting. You just have to try and always be cutting something, to get better at what you do and faster at it.

Listening to a panel of editors and how they edit was eye-opening because you think it's some secret, magic that only they know but a lot of what was said was exactly what I do when I edit. It makes it feel so much more real and obtainable. You also learn what you should and shouldn't do. For example, if you're working in reality television and would like to be in narrative of any kind, you need to get out as soon as you can. Now, I've heard this before but hearing it from someone from the industry really solidifies it for me. This type of event just tells you what it's like in the edit room and makes you feel like this is the best career path you could be going down and pumps you up.

Every first trip to NYC includes a stop in Times Square

This program is something I couldn’t believe existed until I got on the flight to go to New York. It’s just incredible the amount of care this group has for other people, and I cannot wait until the day when I can contribute back to the group and allow others to do similar great things that I got to do. I want to be someone that can make it to majority of the meet ups each month and help out as much as I can. I want to be the person everyone has been to me, and that’s something I will never stop reaching for.

Posted by: Kylee Peña on Jul 14, 2018 at 3:54:53 pm

Adobe Explains the Laurel vs. Yanny Phenomenon

Yesterday I left the internet alone for about an entire hour to watch some quality Netflix streaming, and when I returned I had no idea what anyone was talking about or why they were on the verge of wrestling each other to the ground over a couple people named Yanny and Laurel.

Then I listened and developed my own opinions. And god help any of you that try and change my mind.

Thankfully Adobe's evangelist of all good things audible, visual and Creative Cloud Jason Levine has come to the rescue using Adobe Audition's Spectral Display Frequency to help explain WTF is up with this thing.

Courtesy: Jason Levine, Adobe

It turns out how you listen to this, the speed at which you hear it, and your own experience in life (destroying your hearing at rock shows and such) has an effect on what you hear! Jason explains with visuals, EQ, and other good Adobe Audition tools in this live stream.

As Jason expertly quotes from Harry Nilsson: you see what you want to see and you hear what you want to hear. And this is the wholesome content I need on my internet right now.

Attend Sight, Sound, and Story in NYC for Free

If you're a full time post production worker in the US that makes less than the median income where you live, you might have some trouble making the next leap in your career. It's hard to say yes to opportunities that would enrich your work life and help you build connections to climb the ladder when your finances limit your choices. That's why Blue Collar Post Collective created the Professional Development Accessibility Program (PDAP).

PDAP is the central program of BCPC. We pay for selected low-income post production professionals to attend important industry events, conferences and trade shows that would otherwise be inaccessible due to cost. Since Fall 2016, we've sent post people from Texas, California, New York, and Indiana to events like NAB Show, EditFest LA, and SMPTE Tech Conference.

Through Friday, May 11th, we're accepting applications from people who want to attend Sight, Sound, and Story in New York City. Travel and accommodation is provided by PDAP as needed, with entry donated by Manhattan Edit Workshop.

This year's Sight, Sound, and Story Post Production Summer Event will feature editors across documentary, television and film. And PDAP recipients from outside New York will be provided additional opportunities for tours and connections as available, thanks to the vast BCPC community. Recipients provide a blog or Q&A after the event, which is cool because you get your own press!

Here's a secret: often when we open applications for specific events, we don't get that many applicants because people assume someone else is in more need than they are -- and that is really silly. Let US decide who not only has the greatest need, but would make the best use of the opportunity for their own career path.

Yeah, it's actually free. No, it's not too good to be true. We aren't predatory. We just want to do the right thing because we've been in situations where we've missed out. Katie Hinsen, our co-founder and former co-president, came up with the program after a member, who was an intern at a major New York post house, had a technical paper accepted to a major conference but was unable to attend because of its inherent costs. With travel, accommodation and conference passes, many people who don't have the support of their employer, aren't seen as "decision makers", or don't have the money to spend, are excluded from opportunities that could be incredibly valuable to them.

For the young man who wasn't able to present his paper, he might have missed out on a huge break in his career. Furthermore, the conference attendees missed out on seeing more of the true diversity that exists in our industry. Katie was so upset that this happened, she vowed to find a way to make sure it never happens again. So I started the PDAP program.

Check out the rules and apply now on our website!

Posted by: Kylee Peña on May 7, 2018 at 4:08:03 am pap, bcc, free, opportunity

Dispatches from PyeongChang: Editing the Olympics (Part 5)

Growing up, I was always glued to the Summer or Winter Olympics. And as a young and ambitious video nerd, I wondered what went into the incredible number of visual stories being told. Luckily I crossed paths with editor Mike Api who is currently in PyeongChang, South Korea, freelancing for NBC in his second Olympic Games. Mike’s “unit” is in the “Control C/Graphics Ingest” unit — that is, the department that cuts promos, sponsorship enhancements, and a few athletic features (or in other words, packages and profiles).

Mike is sending me periodic dispatches from PyeongChang, where he's on day 15 in a row (or day 16, time zones are confusing) of editing the Olympics. This is the fifth installment -- check out part one to get started on his journey.

What role does music play in the editing you're doing? Are you selecting it, is it provided, are you assigned edits that use more prolific music or is it something that's used a lot? OR are you not using a lot of music at all for the stuff you're sending to affiliates?

The Olympics has a very distinct orchestral score that's instantly recognizable, but that's not really what we go for when we're cutting our pieces. There's definitely a time and place to use the huge epic tracks with the pounding drums and 60-piece orchestra, but if you use that all the time it starts to get boring. The big soaring John Williams stuff is mainly to set the atmosphere for the live broadcast and then maybe some end-of-Games recaps or epic montages, but for promos and features the score can be all over the map genre-wise. This time in particular, we're making a concerted effort to freshen it up and experiment with more upbeat modern stuff as opposed to the typical "Olympics" music and I think the results have been pretty cool. We have access to a ton of music libraries to pull from. We'll do a few pop songs each Games but it's mainly library stuff.

At this point you've been away from home for several weeks, and you're in double digit number of days working 12 hour shifts in a row. How do you maintain a level of creative inspiration to keep going? Do you ever hit a wall when working with this, or is that just not possible?

Sometimes it can be tough to stay fresh creatively but it helps that there are new sports each day, so you're usually looking at new angles of new people in new places, doing new (crazy) things. It can be a challenge for events like figure skating and skiing that happen every day, but you reference the previous day's work and try to do something a little different, or improve upon what you've been doing. It helps you stay sane instead of just plugging in the same formula day-in day-out.

Beyond that, I'm always inspired by the people I work with and am constantly absorbing new tricks and techniques. It's fun to watch each other's stuff and see how we're all turning the same footage into drastically different pieces. We often do the whole "where'd you get THAT shot!?" or "have you seen THIS one?" routine like the nerds we are.

You can get super close to the track.

I think you can easily hit a wall physically more so than creatively. Like any edit job, you're making hundreds if not thousands of decisions every day and there's always more to do. It can be really taxing mentally. Somewhere around Day 10 or 11 the schedule starts to catch up to you. By that point the Games are in full swing, you're cranking on pieces every day, maybe you've crashed a few last minute pieces or some you were really proud of were killed because the featured athlete got hurt. But everyone's in it together, supporting one another and keeping the energy flowing. Once you get past Day 10 it starts to move pretty quickly. I'm writing this on Day 15 and can't believe we're almost done. It feels like I've been here forever but at the same time the Games themselves flew by.

Are there any special pieces that are generally prepared for the end of the Olympics? Or does that change?

There are a number of annual ending pieces and they're the most anticipated cuts aside from the grand Olympic open (which is cut by longtime NBC veteran Phil Parrish). Everyone's got some kind of end-of-Games recap or lookback to do, plus there is the credit rollout to cut. We have so many credits that our rollout is about ten and a half minutes long. The big headlining end piece is called Remember The Titans and it airs right before the credit rollout plays. It's a piece we do every Olympics of the very best of the best, most epic shots and intimate moments, heartbreak, emotional victories, and the Olympic spirit. Everybody pulls selects throughout the whole month and it's really special when you finally see it all compiled together with the Titans score. We'll all gather together on Sunday to watch the finished cut. It's a great culmination of everyone's work (and some fantastic editing by the brilliant Josh Glaser).

OBS HD cameras along the track in the sliding center

Can you talk about going to see some of the events, like alpine skiing and skeleton? How was it different than what you saw in Rio?

I'm a little biased because I love the winter sports more than the summer sports, but the atmosphere at the events I saw was unbelievable. Alpine skiing is terrifying because of the sheer speed at which they hurl themselves down the mountain. It's completely insane. Skeleton was particularly cool because as fast as they look on television, you can't imagine how fast they whiz by you in person. I remember thinking to myself, "oh, these guys are out of their damn minds too." You can literally blink and miss them. That said, it does look like a lot of fun to careen down an ice flume like a superhero. We walked down the length of the track and stopped at the last big turn before the finish line to watch South Korea's Yun Sungbin (the guy with the Iron Man helmet) win gold amongst a sea of Koreans, which was incredible. Seeing the home team win gold and everybody going crazy is a really special experience.

You said you're coloring in the edit, out of curiosity are you doing any QC for picture and sound levels or is that a separate department that legalizes stuff?

We QC everything ourselves and take it really seriously. Everything that gets delivered first gets sent to our EVS supervisor, where he and usually the editor plus one or two other people will all watch the piece down before pushing it to the servers. Whoever receives the cut on the other side will also give it a QC pass before it's finally cleared for air. From the outset, we have really specific standards as far as audio levels, video levels, and the entire export process so it's pretty clear what we need to be delivering.

Logo wall inside the IBC

Have you personally developed any Olympic traditions aside from pin trading now that you've got the majority of two of them down?

(Does eating like an animal count as a tradition?) You can learn a lot about a culture by diving into their cuisine, which is why I like to house as much of it as I possibly can. I loved the food in Rio and lovvvvve the food here in Korea. You could put an old sneaker in front of me and I'd eat it if it had gochujang (Korean red chili paste) on it.

Aside from pins, a lot of people get a postcard stamped on the day of Opening Ceremony. It's a pretty unique little souvenir to have something with these specific Olympic postmarks on them. The last thing I need in my house is more stuff, but since they don't take up any space I might make this a new tradition of mine.

Opening ceremony post mark

Posted by: Kylee Peña on Feb 24, 2018 at 6:21:56 pm editing, olympics, mike api, avid

Dispatches from PyeongChang: The Edit Infrastructure of the Olympics (Part 4)

Growing up, I was always glued to the Summer or Winter Olympics. And as a young and ambitious video nerd, I wondered what went into the incredible number of visual stories being told. Luckily I crossed paths with editor Mike Api who is currently in PyeongChang, South Korea, freelancing for NBC in his second Olympic Games. Mike’s “unit” is in the “Control C/Graphics Ingest” unit — that is, the department that cuts promos, sponsorship enhancements, and a few athletic features (or in other words, packages and profiles).

Mike is sending me periodic dispatches from PyeongChang, where he's nearly two weeks into editing the Olympics. Check out part one to get started on his journey.

What's the workflow like for cutting the stuff you cut and then making it to air? What’s the overall technical workflow for ingesting everything else?

The primary source for every network is OBS (Olympic Broadcasting Service), the official host broadcaster for every Olympics. They are a branch of the IOC and provide every media outlet [who has purchased the rights] with what we call the World Feed - literally every second of every event. Any game you see on TV was shot and recorded by OBS. The scope of their production is really impressive. They have cameras all over every venue, plus action cameras like the ones that race along the track/pool/ski slope/whatever, plus a bunch of high tech spidercams, drones, lipstick cams planted throughout the playing fields, on and on and on. Plus god only knows how many microphones dotted all over every playing venue. We get the World Feed plus textless "melts" - reels of the best moments from several different angles, usually in super high speed.

We also have our own production people filming and recording a whole separate slew of ENG material - true speed, super high speed, helicopter aerials, all sorts of fun stuff - on top of all the athlete profiles and cultural features we produce. Our stuff looks really filmic and helps add some color and texture to the broadcast. I have to shout out our ENG shooters for the unbelievable work they do - high-level professionals like Samson Chan, Aaron Mendez, and John Biggins provide us with some really astounding moments.

In addition to cutting sponsor enhancements, promos, and features, we're kind of the central distribution hub for all other departments as well as other broadcasters and venues. Our media managers ingest an ungodly amount of material every day, catalog it, and distribute it to my department. Loggers and PAs watch *everything* that comes in, subclip it, name it, and check it into Avid Interplay. Each editor has a producer in their edit bay, wading through the massive stockpile of material and digging out the gems depending on what our assignments are. PAs also do a lot of digging for shots and moments and even some editing. It's not uncommon for us to be in a pinch, with everyone crashing on their own pieces, and hand a project off to a PA to be cut. After all, they are the first eyes on the material and typically know the footage better than the rest of us. It's a great opportunity for these young bucks. Editors edit, producers edit, PAs edit, everybody's got their hands in the footage.

Editing wise, we're 100% Avid/PC based. Everyone's running on MC 8.9.2 with Symphony enabled, accelerated by these gorgeous whisper-quiet Avid Artist DNxIO boxes. We have a colorist making a color pass on select material upon ingest (usually scenics and specific major features), everything else gets colored in the edit. We work entirely in full resolution since it just wouldn't be practical (or necessary) to have proxies and then uprez later. We need to see everything in high res from the start and get it out as quickly as possible. After cutting, we'll color correct and either mix it ourselves or send it to our Pro Tools mixers in Stamford, CT if it's a bigger or more complex piece. Once we get the mix we export the uncompressed finished product to our EVS servers for playback. (Beyond just the regular HD broadcast, we also do a bunch of 4K HDR, VR, mobile, and even Snapchat stuff, all with their own unique delivery paths.)

Inside the IBC.

Can you give us an idea of how vast the infrastructure is?

It's mind-boggling. I have a hard time wrapping my head around the numbers because they are so comically high:

I think we have something like 2,500 crew members working here in PyeongChang, plus another 1,000 back home in Stamford, CT, some more at 30 Rock in Manhattan, some out at CNBC in New Jersey, plus more in Denver working on Olympic Channel stuff - where most of these sports than only get seen every few years have more regular coverage. This year we're doing about 2,400 hours of coverage (120 something hours a day), around 1,800 of which is live. We deploy 150 of our own cameras and 2 helicopters to accompany OBS's massive arsenal (they had 1,000 cameras in Rio). We have 15 or 16 edit rooms here in the IBC, plus another 15 spread out amongst the venues. I heard we take up around 72,000 sq ft of space within the IBC, which sounds about right. Everything is connected via fiber but I couldn't begin to guess how much cable was used to build the infrastructure. All I know is the 6000mi transfers from PyeongChang to Stamford, CT are lightning fast. The engineering team behind the build are mad scientists, man.

On the media side, it's equally as bonkers. Beyond ingesting the World Feed, our media managers also get about 3-5TB of new ENG material plus another few hundred GB of helicopter stuff every day. There's hundreds of GB of graphics, hundreds of TB of specialty promo footage, and as of today (Day 9) our projects drive is already about 600GB full. That's a lot of metadata! We also have a massive archive of all of our footage from past Olympic games. Storage-wise, we have somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.2PB (or 2,200TB). Like I said, mind-boggling.

When you are working on location, do you have much interaction with the locals? How do you try to experience life through their eyes?

Absolutely! Every Olympics has a local crew of staff and volunteers that work all the events, direct people where to go, assist with translations, man all the security stations, handle all the food, act as local concierges, everything. Getting to know the locals is one of my favorite parts of the job. I mean, why travel around the world if you're not going to meet new people and experience different cultures? My team and I do as much traveling in the country as we can, exploring nearby towns, eating where the locals eat, visiting cultural landmarks, just trying to immerse ourselves in the local life.

A day off in Seoul makes for good Instagrams.

Another great way to meet people is Olympic pin trading. Olympic pins date back to the very first Summer Games in 1896 and are a whole world unto themselves. Broadcasters all have their own unique sets of pins, as do equipment vendors, sponsors, specific venues, host cities, everybody. I've got some from NBC, BBC, Avid, Anton Bauer, CBC, and some classic ones from the 80s. All you have to do is ask for one (typically best to do in the very beginning, as supplies quickly evaporate once more broadcasters arrive at the Games). The local volunteers are here every day with us, so they're essentially our co-workers. Trading pins with them is a really easy way to forge a bond and make someone's day. I've had some really rough days turn around because a local kid was excited that I gave them a cool pin. For us, we go to Olympics every few years so we amass a pretty sweet collection of keepsakes, but for the locals working around us, this may be the only opportunity they have to get some.

Mike's pin collection so far.

[Below is an exchange from Rio that I'll never forget. My friend Karl (on the right) and I were coming into work one day at about 2am, about halfway through the Games. We were both exhausted and really struggling to maintain our energy. On our way in that day, this stoic security guard - who hadn't said two words to us the entire time - stopped us and gently pointed to the pins on Karl's lanyard, asking to trade. In a matter of seconds this guy went from stone-faced serious business to ear-to-ear smiles (as did Karl). He was proud of the Olympics being in his homeland and just wanted as many pins that said Rio on them as he could get. We made his day, he made ours, and believe it or not it gave us a little boost to get through the last week of the grind. All because of a little pin.]

Which past Olympics would you have liked to work?

I really wish I could have worked the Sydney, Barcelona, Torino, London, and Vancouver Games because they're all places I either love or have always wanted to visit. From a historical standpoint, of course I would have loved to have seen the Los Angeles '84 Games and the Miracle on Ice in Lake Placid '80. Honestly, I'm still in disbelief that I get to work any of them.

NEXT: Read Part Five!

Posted by: Kylee Peña on Feb 22, 2018 at 5:43:33 am olympics, post production, editing, avid

Being an Assistant Editor on a Sundance Documentary: Julie Hwang on "The Game Changers"

Before the lush celebrity gift suites, the sold-out Q&A sessions, and the long lines of frozen but eager cinephiles trying to grab the hottest ticket in Park City, a movie was made -- and it was hard work. And behind the producers and directors and actors who led the charge, a "below-the-line" crew of anywhere from tens to hundreds of craftspeople worked to bring filmmakers' visions to life. They're the post production engineers, the editors, the camera operators, or the composers whose names are in the credits but not the numerous story pitches to Sundance press outlets like the COW. Union or non-union, aspiring or veteran, these individuals spent weeks of their life behind the scenes dedicated to telling a story. And in my 2018 COW Sundance Film Festival coverage, I'm telling their stories.


Like many of the connections made at Sundance, I met Julie Hwang in a flash during an Avid mixer on Main Street, introduced by a mutual friend. Between the purple lights, free beanies, and blaring music, we could barely hear each other — but when I saw she had served as an assistant editor on her first Sundance documentary feature, I insisted we trade cards and follow up soon after the fest. (Then I ran off into the night to interview Barbie down the street.)

And I’m so glad I did because Julie is rad.

Julie Hwang came into editing in a roundabout way. Her background is technical: she went to MIT and was an electrical engineer at Texas Instruments in Texas where she designed HDMI switches for ten years! “If you ever switched inputs on your HDMI TV, there's a good chance one of the chips I worked on made that possible.”

Once she left engineering, Julie took a Final Cut Pro class and some other production-oriented classes around Dallas, worked on a low budget feature in various roles, and then found herself moving to Silicon Valley along with her partner when he was transferred. After a couple years of freebies and Indies, she decided to fully commit to post production.

“I finally got into post-production, oddly enough, via production. I was working as a PA and assistant travel coordinator on a pretty big travel-based reality competition show. I got to travel to a bunch of different cities, and it felt a little like running away with the circus. Ultimately, I wanted to find something more stable and in post-production back in the Bay Area. Luckily, one of the producers on the show recommended me to a post production supervisor she knew in the Bay Area, and that's how I finally got my first job working with Avid. I started out as a logger and I didn't really have any Avid experience at all. It was my first time working in a real TV post-production environment and I just loved it and knew that's where I wanted to be.”

Julie served as assistant editor on The Game Changers, a documentary that features athletes, soldiers, scientist and cultural icons working together to change the way we eat and live and shift toward a plant-based diet. The documentary was directed by Louie Psihoyos and executive produced by James Cameron, and debuted at Sundance to a sold out audience.

Outside The Ray Theater where The Game Changers premiered.

Creative COW: Why did you originally choose to go into engineering, and what made you shift into film? Was it a life-long passion you put aside to pursue engineering?

Julie Hwang: I've had a love of movies and a fascination with the film industry since a pretty young age, but I grew up as a first generation Asian American whose parents were both engineers. The film/TV industry was something that wasn't really known to my family and also seemed like a risky and impractical pursuit to them. It was something I could never give up completely though. Even at MIT, I took film and media classes, which I definitely enjoyed more than my engineering classes.

Back in Dallas, I became heavily involved in the film festival community there and even helped run the Asian Film Festival of Dallas for a few years. Those experiences brought me in contact with actual filmmakers and other people working in the industry, which made the idea of working in the industry much less abstract. I also want to mention Justin Lin's success at Sundance back in 2002 with Better Luck Tomorrow. Seeing someone with a similar background to my own break out in the movie industry like he did was huge.

Deciding to make the break still took a while, but my final turning point came when I realized I didn't want to retire from my working life at 55 or 65 as an engineer, and that's what was going to happen if I didn't leave.

Engineering and post production are two industries that are notoriously unwelcoming to women. There’s copious research that shows parallels between both industries’ lack of ability to retain, develop, and promote women properly. What has been your experience going from one to the other? Do the two technical roles share similarities, or are things quite different?

Both industries definitely require similar skill sets and I think my engineering background has served me quite well. It's all about trade-offs and working with the resources you have to get things done.

One thing I saw a lot in my engineering career was the drive to make processes more efficient and squeeze more performance out of existing systems and that's a mentality with which I approach the technical side of my work as an assistant editor. Especially in television, where schedules are so tight, it's important to do everything you can to get the editors working as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

I think I was pretty lucky in my engineering career to have worked at a large corporation that had a lot of programs and systems in place to help promote and develop women. Going from a company that had thousands of employees to companies that had less than 50, sometimes less than 5 employees was a big adjustment. Also, so much of our industry is word of mouth and you often find yourself on short assignments. There's a lot more hustle involved. I had to learn to really speak up more for myself and put myself out there in order to make an impression or find new opportunities.

In any field or occupation, I think it's important to stand up for yourself and let your ideas be heard. I still have trouble doing that sometimes, and I will admit, I've found myself more willing to speak up in situations where the crew has been predominantly women. Let me just say, I've been in a few situations where I've felt my ideas were dismissed, ignored, or just put down, and none of those situations involved a female producer, director, or editor.

I think one of the best ways to bring about positive change for women in any field is to seek out and work with people you respect and who value your contributions in return, male or female.

Bryant Jennings in The Game Changers.

Tell me about The Game Changers. How did you get involved on the film, and what was your role? How long did you work on the film?

The Game Changers is a feature length documentary that follows elite special forces trainer and former UFC fighter James Wilks as he discovers the performance, health, and environmental impacts of a plant-based diet. It was directed by Louis Psihoyos, who won an Oscar for The Cove, and executive produced by James Cameron and Suzy Amis Cameron.  One of the writers was Mark Monroe (Icarus) and the film was edited by Dan Swietlik, ACE (An Inconvenient Truth, Sicko, Fed Up) and Stephanie Mechura (The Price of Sex, Frontline). It was really a dream team of documentary film making and it was an amazing experience to be able to be in the edit rooms with Dan and Stephanie.

I was brought onto the project back in February of last year because they made a decision change NLE's from Premiere to Avid and needed Bay Area Avid assistants to help transfer the project. I ended up staying on through the rest of the post production process. I was able to do some string-outs and editing, but my primary duties were to manage our massive project and the media and assets.

I feel really lucky to have been brought onto the film, not only because of the caliber of the filmmakers involved, but it's probably the first project I've been involved with that I felt could have a positive impact on the world.

Outside Park City's Egyptian Theater

What was the most challenging aspect of The Game Changers for you as an assistant editor? How did you meet that challenge?

The amount of material we had was enormous. This is easily the largest project I've worked on, in terms of hours of footage and the number of subjects involved. Over 100 subjects were interviewed. In addition to that, we had hours of verite and also a huge amount of archival footage and graphics. From a creative standpoint, condensing and refining all that material into a coherent 90 minute film was a huge challenge by itself, but we also had a lot of logistical issues to deal with.

We had producers, writers, and graphics artists spread all over the world and our editor Stephanie was also working remotely for part of the time. It was vital to have the project well organized and with a good naming convention for each different type of media so we could find things quickly or new material could be found logically. We made heavy use of Google Drive both for sharing scripts, exports, and even Avid bins quickly.

As I mentioned earlier, I had been brought on to help move the project from Premiere to Avid. It was a decision that delayed the start of the edit by about 6 weeks, since we essentially had to rebuild and re-sync everything from scratch, but in the end it probably saved us months.

The ability for multiple members of the team to be working in the same project at the same time was absolutely essential and Scriptsync was just a brilliant way for us to quickly go through all the material we had and to assemble edits. I'm also not sure that we would have been able to keep everything in one project with Premiere. Avid handled our gargantuan project like a champ.

Is this your first trip to Sundance with a film? What has that experience been like?

Yes! This was my first trip with a film. I had come to Sundance before, just as a festival goer, but this was definitely a more exciting experience. At the premiere, I finally got to meet several of our documentary subjects in person which was kind of strange and also nerve wracking, since none of them had seen the film yet. It was a great relief that all the athletes and scientists were happy with the film and how they were portrayed.

Many of your credits are on reality and documentary projects. What are you working toward in the future?

I enjoy the challenge of reality and documentary work where you're essentially finding the story in the edit, but I do hope to be able to move more into narrative work. Part of my desire to shift is just because that's a whole area of post production that I'm unfamiliar with and I want to gain that knowledge. In narrative work you also have a larger number of disciplines coming together to create and drive the story, and it would be exciting to be a part of that.

The Game Changers.

What’s next on the horizon for you? Do you have another project lined up?

There's still a little more work to be done on The Game Changers post-Sundance. We finished the Sundance cut of the film only a few days before its festival premiere so it doesn't feel like that project has really wrapped yet. After that, I'm looking at some other TV documentary work, and I think it's time to start going down to LA more.

What advice do you have for people who might be considering shifting careers into post production?

Always be willing to work hard and learn as much as you can. Be patient but never complacent. If you're not sure about the switch, ask yourself where you want to be at the end of your career. If you can live with the track that you're on, that's great. If you can't, then you need to do what you can to switch.

Posted by: Kylee Peña on Feb 19, 2018 at 12:30:27 am Sundance, the game changers, assistant editor, editing, vegan

Dispatches from PyeongChang: Editing the Olympics (Part 3)

Growing up, I was always glued to the Summer or Winter Olympics. And as a young and ambitious video nerd, I wondered what went into the incredible number of visual stories being told. Luckily I crossed paths with editor Mike Api who is currently in PyeongChang, South Korea, freelancing for NBC in his second Olympic Games. Mike’s “unit” is in the “Control C/Graphics Ingest” unit — that is, the department that cuts promos, sponsorship enhancements, and a few athletic features (or in other words, packages and profiles).

Mike is sending me periodic dispatches from PyeongChang, where the athletic highlights and stunning stories continue to pour out. Check out part one to get started on his journey.

Mike's Olympic 'stache next to the Olympic flame.

What's a typical day like for you now that the games are in full swing?

We work twelve hour shifts and I'm on a 2pm-2am workday this time around. My producer and I have to cut two new pieces every day for a primetime show on NBC affiliates - a show open and a highlight "lookback," which is like a highlight montage of the best moments or stories from that day. Beyond that we'll help out with other deliverables as needed, cutting promos, finishing pieces the day shift didn't have time for, and crashing* on new pieces that may pop up on the spur of the moment (which happened just this week after the men's skiathlon).

* - "Crashing" is an informal term for quickly cutting a new piece from scratch, usually because of some unexpected development or breaking news. In our case, we were asked to crash on a piece telling the story of Norwegian cross-country skiier Simen Hegstad Krueger's... in the men's skiathlon. (He crashed and broke a pole at the start of the 30km race, fell to dead last and made a miraculous comeback to win gold, passing all 63 skiiers in the process.) The whole thing was done with announcer calls from the race, so it was basically us digging through the hour-15 behemoth for little bits and pieces to tell the story coherently. There's more I would like to do with it, but I think it came out pretty cool nonetheless.

[Watch Mike's crash piece on Krueger's comeback on NBC's website -- it's really good.]

Do you get to actually watch anything, on TV or in person?

Yes on both accounts! We're surrounded by TVs with feeds from all the Comcast Olympic stations as well as direct feeds from the venues so we can see literally everything! I got to attend about ten or twelve events down in Rio but I was also on a 2am-2pm shift, so by the time my day was done there was a ton of things I could go see.

Here in PyeongChang it's a little different since I'm out at 2am and my window is a bit more limited. I'd like to see some luge, bobsled, snowboarding, ski jumping, and alpine downhill if I can swing it. Also, Japanese broadcaster NHK has a special Super High Vision* theater set up in the IBC, broadcasting events both taped and live in stunning 8K/22.2 surround sound. They're testing and preparing for Tokyo 2020 (and have been for years). I saw figure skating yesterday and it looked and sounded like I was sitting in the arena, it was incredible.

[Editor's note for the nerds: NHK's SHV is 7680x4320 10/12 bit 16:9 at frame rates of 59.94, 60, or 120. New to the Super High Vision for this Olympics is the addition of HDR for all events.]

Outside the Super High Vision Theater

Are there any special circumstances you have to watch out for in South Korea?

Nothing too crazy aside from the bitter cold and brutal wind. I've talked to a lot of Olympic long-timers who say this is by far the coldest Games they can remember, which is bonkers considering we're not that high up (around 2300ft) and we're about even with San Francisco latitudinally. I'm lucky enough to be in an edit bay all day. I can't imagine what the camera ops, mixers, photographers, and other production personnel are dealing with out their in the deep freeze.

What's been the best moment of the Olympics so far?

The best moment I've seen so far has been that crazy skiathlon comeback I mentioned earlier, but there are new amazing moments happening every hour. Take your pick: seventeen year old American Red Gerard winning Gold in slopestyle snowboarding (the USA's first medal); figure skater Mirai Nagasu's gravity-defying triple axel; Canada's Philippe Marquis qualifying eighth in moguls with a torn ACL, which is like the most insane thing I've ever heard. Literally every hour of every day some new record is set or a new compelling story develops. And it's still only Day 3!

What has been a personal highlight so far?

My personal highlight so far was getting the opportunity to cut a piece for the Opening Ceremony called Meet Team USA. It was a short stat-heavy feature that aired right before Team USA entered the stadium for the parade of nations. We worked on it in our down time for about 4 or 5 days and I'm really proud of the result. (I'm always my own worst critic and never feel like anything I work on is really ever 'done,' so this was a first for me.)

MEET TEAM USA from Mike Api on Vimeo.

Basically we started with a long script that was essentially a ton of numbers and names. We knew just yelling figures at people would get tired after a while, so we recorded a scratch VO, picked some music, and went to town pacing it out how we thought it should sound. From there we added some nat sound pops and announcer calls where we felt we needed a little break from the narration. (IMO, this is pretty standard documentary process - lay down your sound first and then elevate it with good visuals to tell the story.)

As my fantastic producer Scott and I mined for better and better shots, the Graphics department built us some cool full screens and animated titles, and hosts Katie Couric and Mike Tirico recorded the voiceover. As always, things kept popping up last minute (in this case athletes dropping out of the Games due to injuries), which meant new graphics as well as new voiceover - not the easiest thing to coordinate when you're hours away from the Opening Ceremony. Once we locked our cut we sent it off to [the NBC Sports home base in] Stamford, CT to be mixed, dropped in the final mix and exported to our playback server about 2 hours before the start of Opening Ceremony.

Mike's Media Composer timeline for Meet Team USA.

How does the constraint of time and deadline work for you in this environment?

In all of these cases, I find myself thriving off the high pressure and time constraints. It forces you to be more decisive and quickly recognize what you like or dislike. You do a lot of relying on your gut instincts since you just don't have the time to second guess yourself or flounder around in "well, I don't know" land.

You have to be creative off the top of your head, trust your teammates, brainstorm new ideas, collaborate, and try things out. Like I've mentioned in previous posts, SOMETHING has to air, so you need to get image and sound on a timeline one way or the other. Personally, I love working like that because at the end of a shift, it's on the air, out of my head, and I'm onto the next thing with a fresh mindset.

Navigation in the buildings.

NEXT: Read Part Four!

Posted by: Kylee Peña on Feb 17, 2018 at 6:07:11 pm olympics, post production, mike api, editing

Dispatches from PyeongChang: Preparing to Edit the Olympics (Part 2)

Growing up, I was always glued to the Summer or Winter Olympics. And as a young and ambitious video nerd, I wondered what went into the incredible number of visual stories being told. Luckily I crossed paths with editor Mike Api who is currently in PyeongChang, South Korea, freelancing for NBC in his second Olympic Games. Mike’s “unit” is in the “Control C/Graphics Ingest” unit — that is, the department that cuts promos, sponsorship enhancements, and a few athletic features (or in other words, packages and profiles).

Mike is sending me periodic dispatches from balmy PyeongChang, where it is currently mid-afternoon on a Sunday and 20 degrees Fahrenheit, on track to be one of the coldest Games in recent memory. Check out part one to get started on his journey.

Mike with the Winter Olympics mascot Soohorang (수호랑) and Winter Paralympics mascot Bandabi (반다비).

When does the Olympics actually start? Why are you there so early?

The Opening Ceremony is Friday, February 9th, but technically the Winter Games start on the 7th. There are usually some events that take place before the OC because there's such a huge number to get through and scheduling & broadcasting them all means there has to be some crafty logistical maneuvering. There will never be any medals presented before the OC, but some early round robins/preliminary events get the early go. (In this case it's biathlon, luge, alpine skiing, and ski jumping.)

We get here almost two weeks before the opening because there's a lot of work to do! On the editing side, we have a ton of promos, sponsored content, and all sorts of different elements to create beforehand. There are also pieces that were cut in Stamford, CT that will need to be either finished, upgraded*, voiced, or totally recut depending on late-breaking developments (e.g. - if someone gets injured before the Games or if a shoe-in athlete we've been producing a feature on doesn't end up making the Olympics, which always happens). The studio and engineering crews have been here for much longer, building and testing all the studios and technical infrastructure. None of this was here a few months ago!

The International Broadcast Center being pieced together.

This year is especially complicated because it happens to be NBC's turn to broadcast the Super Bowl (in the same week no less!), so a good portion of the crew is still working on that.

Beyond that, we're still shooting new pieces that will need to be cut, colored, voiced, mixed, and ready to go later this week! (To be clear, this isn't due to a lack of planning - some things just aren't possible to do way ahead of time, especially any pieces that involve the athletes physically being in Korea. And again, things always come up.)

* - "upgraded" refers to upgrading the footage. The standards for visuals are very high, so we're always tweaking until we're happy with every shot in a piece. For instance, we may cut with "dirty" (texted) placeholder footage from an old race until we get our hands on better angles or better quality replacements. "Specialty" shoots are where we get the really pretty, really stylized b-roll and scenics that sports tv is known for.

Seoul, South Korea.

In the days leading up to the beginning of the games, what kinds of things are you doing or preparing, in general?

You name it. We're prepping a bunch of pieces we can't actually edit until we get competition footage, cutting a big preview show, cutting all those new late-breaking pieces I mentioned earlier, cutting dozens of sponsorship enhancements* (branded content that act as in-broadcast highlight reels while also serving as ad time), all sorts of jazz.

Right now I'm cutting a special Meet Team USA piece that's going to air directly before the USA walks into the Opening Ceremony! (No pressure at all, right?)

[*An example of sponsorship enhancements would be if Creative COW sponsors the Games and buys 12 sponsorship enhancements with a focus on "teamwork." So as the Games go on, we'll have to deliver 12 mini highlight reels with an emphasis on the best team moments - teammates picking each other up, passing the baton during a relay, celebrating together, etc. People often dog the Olympics for being too ad-heavy, but the fact is without sponsors like Coca-Cola (who is not paying me to say this), we wouldn't be able to broadcast the Games across the world. It's also how they manage to keep the courses, fields, and rinks clear of any advertising.]

Home for the month.

What have you learned is important to bring with you when you work on location in a foreign country?

Copies of your passport are crucial because it can take a really long time to replace a lost passport. Scan it, email it to yourself, and email it to someone else. Prepare a list of emergency contacts in your phone and also keep a physical copy on you. If you wear contacts - bring extras! It sounds obvious but I've gotten burned a few times when a lens popped out or ripped at the beginning of my trip and I had no backups.

It should go without saying but you also need to bring a respectful attitude and be mindful that you are, in fact, representing your entire country abroad. *This is especially important for younger people.* Sometimes you're excited to travel abroad and let loose, but you have to understand that the image you're putting out there is representative of (in our case) the United States and the NBC network. This isn't your home. It's someone else's. You can get plastered and be loud on the LIRR [Long Island Rail Road] and get a few stares but do that in another country while wearing your company logo and that's the image people will associate with the United States. It's not a very good look. 

Sight-seeing in Seoul.

How do you prepare emotionally for such a high intensity job that lasts for so long?

Finding a good rhythm and taking care of yourself is essential on these long hauls. The Olympics is definitely a grind; we're pulling 12-hr days 7 days a week for a month straight. If you're staying up late all the time or not eating properly and not getting enough rest it'll catch up to you, your body will shut down, and you won't be productive.

Psychologically, you really need to focus in on the task at hand, forget about social media or any other distractions. and operate on a Left-to-Right mentality. (That's a reference to putting things down on a timeline from left to right, getting ideas onto a sequence rather than wondering IF an idea is going to work.) Just try it and then adjust - after all, something is going to have to air. This is an approach I take to any project, no matter the pressure. Then go back and make it pretty when you have the time. This is not to say there isn't time to think and be creative, but you need to be efficient and focused.

What are you doing in your downtime?

(What is this "downtime" you speak of?!) I try to relax after work, get a good meal in and alternate between doing nothing and doing...something. And it almost always involves food (naturally). In Rio I did a lot of wandering around the Olympic Park checking out different events, and a bunch of days were spent exploring nearby towns. Here in PyeongChang, I happen to be at a hotel smack dab in the Mountain Cluster where nordic combined, ski jumping, and snowboarding is going down.

I have eaten my weight in Korean fried chicken, barbecue, kimchi, and all sorts of fun treats. We're also pretty close to the slide centre so I definitely want to catch some bobsled and luge. We're also pretty close to the high speed train that takes us to the Coastal Cluster where hockey, speed skating (!!), figure skating, and a host of other events are happening. We got an unexpected day off on Friday and took the train to Seoul, which was pretty amazing. Once we really get into the thick of it, I'm sure there will be days where I don't want to do anything but eat dinner and relax. It's a delicate balance of exploring while being mindful of how much rest you're getting.

[Editor's Note: Mike also got a scary warning text this weekend. It turned out to be warning of the impending cold wave. Which is also scary, but not in the way he was probably imagining.]

NEXT: Read Part Three!

Create Visual Art with Adobe, Be in a BØRNS Music Video

The name BØRNS may or may not be familiar to you at first glance — after all, you’re probably here for video stuff, generally speaking — but I can almost certainly guarantee you’ve heard his music — especially Electric Love, which hit over 20 million views on YouTube when it was released and subsequently certified platinum. BØRNS, now in Los Angeles, is from roughly the same area of Michigan as my extended family. Despite his humble midwestern roots, he’s nothing like (most) of my relatives: described as glam rock, indie pop, and everything from eccentric to exotic to enigmatic.

But underneath his falsetto synth pop, BØRNS is an artist filled with creativity, thriving in inspiring art in others. To follow that — and the release of his new album Blue Madonna which will take him on tour and to Coachella — BØRNS is partnering with Adobe to foster visual art inspired by his new song “We Don’t Care”. The end product will be edited by BØRNS (in Premiere Pro, of course) and the winner will be featured in a music video and get the chance to come to LA to meet him. (Hurry up and get going on the Creative Brief — the contest ends February 6th.) Music-inspired projects that interpret lyrics and emotions are a fascinating way to explore one’s technical and storytelling skills, and participants can view other entries in a gallery to be inspired by one another as well.

I had an opportunity to speak with BØRNS about his role in editing the final product for Adobe’s contest, as well as his thoughts on creativity and visual arts.

Creative COW: Why did you want to partner with Adobe for this challenge to your fans? Can you tell me more about how this will play out and what the end result will be?

BØRNS: So many fans tag me in the most creative and beautiful art work and collages based on my music that when the opportunity came up to partner with Adobe, I jumped on it. The whole concept is letting everyone go wild and create a stunning universe for me to perform in.

How does inspiring art and self-expression in those around you feed your own creative process?

Art is a constant collaboration whether you admit it or not. You’re collaborating with thousands of years of ideas every day. Anyway I can change my creative process and inspire others, I’m into.

As a native midwesterner like myself, how did you learn to tap into your creativity in a place not known on the surface for such a thing?

There are so many musicians are visual artists from the midwest. It must be in the water there. I was always just trying to create my show to take on the road.

You've spoken before about the early impact of different kinds of music, but can you recall any formative experiences in visual art?
Yes, I would frequent art studios where I grew up to see what local painters were working on. I used to do a lot of painting and drawing when I was young.

Music videos are one of the best places for experimentation in video, and they're one of the first opportunities visual storytellers begin to hone their craft. What do you enjoy about music videos today? What can emerging artists (or aspiring artists) get out of the process of putting visuals to sound?

There are a plethora of formats to work with. My favorites are Super8, VHS, old iPhones. I love seeing different eras of technology side by side. It creates an interesting nostalgia. And when you put movement so sound, you’ve created a universe: You put someone into the scope of your thoughts. That is extremely powerful.

Much of creation is about risk. Does vulnerability play a role in your life as a musician?

Being vulnerable to the muse and knowing when to use your power.

Where do you find new inspiration for each album? What can we expect from your next single, and how do you hope to carry that vision through to the music video?

Inspiration just falls into place. I’m open to the world through travels and relationships. “We Don’t Care” is a song about finding someone that takes you out of a superficial world and the ironic part is the video will be the most beautiful superficial world you’ve ever experienced.

Posted by: Kylee Peña on Jan 30, 2018 at 6:50:28 am adobe premiere pro, borns, music videos

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