Where are you currently employed?
Walt Disney Studios.
I’m building a new facility containing multiple editing, screening and collaboration rooms along with media ingest, storage, transcoding, etc.
Describe Your Job.
I work to make sure that Disney’s various post-production facilities operate correctly and that everyone knows how to use them properly. I try to diagnose and correct problems. My group also designs and installs new systems for both post-production and several other studio business units. I'm also personally involved in Crestron programming for our stages and RF CATV distribution for the lot.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
My graduate degree is in Music Performance from Cal Arts. When I was a student there, I was also heavily involved in sound for theatre, as well as the recording of performances. When I graduated, I was offered a part-time position assisting the faculty member who taught sound for the Cal Arts Film School.
Who gave you your first break?
Not sure of a specific answer for this one. I’m fortunate to still feel grateful to each of the people who have hired me — and there have really only been five.
What was your first union job?
My current one with Disney, where I started working in 1997.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
When I came to work at Disney 15 years ago, my job was primarily about making sure analogue film machines played back and recorded audio optimally. Since then, Disney — and the rest of the industry — have become pretty much totally immersed in digital processing and recording. This has been a challenge since the skill set required in my job has changed considerably. It has not changed completely since many of the jobs I do are more related to social interaction, but the technical aspects are very different now.
Early in this process, we found that the Internet Protocol network resources available to us from Disney were inadequate for our new requirements. After some discussion with our IT department, it was concluded that the best solution for our problem was to acquire an independent Internet connection using a cable modem. We did so and found that while the modem was too slow, it did provide us with the ability to control our own network access.
Over the next 10 years or so, I learned a lot about networking and our little network became much larger as we began to provide connectivity to many business units within Disney that had faced similar difficulties. Now we are working in conjunction with our IT people to create a larger, faster, more scalable and more friendly network dedicated to the production needs dictated by the change in distribution models as well as in production.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
I think that the most serious problem has been convincing other people — particularly management — that we knew more about the challenges and requirements for digital media than did most of the IT people who were tasked to “help” us. I’ve learned a great deal from some of these guys and I’m certainly not going to say that they don’t know what they’re doing, but we really are much more familiar with the day-to-day requirements of post-production. In the earlier days of this transition, it was very difficult for most of the IT folks to really get their heads around the truly staggering terabytes of data that we were going to be producing and manipulating. It’s still tough because those numbers have not stopped growing.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
Getting everything I’ve talked about above to actually work!
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
I like to cook, play and perform chamber music, and fly airplanes
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
Impossible to say. Maybe Dr. Strangelove, The Ruling Class, Topsy-Turvy and Spinal Tap, just to pick four off the top of my head — because they make me laugh.
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
The West Wing, The Daily Show, The Good Wife, Big Bang Theory and 30 Rock — it’s always the writing.
Do you have an industry mentor?
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
I believe that this type of engineering we do requires expertise both on a technical and a social level. It’s important to respect and listen to your colleagues and clients.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
I can’t think of one.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
I would like to encourage my fellow engineers to learn as much as they can about networking and storage. These are two topics that are not beyond our reach, but others may try to push them out of our grasp. They are an integral part of the future of motion pictures, and those of us who have been doing this job for years are the best ones to continue to do so in the future — provided we stay current with the changes in technology.
- Compiled by Edward Landler
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