Where are you currently employed?
I work with Universal Studios Digital Services as a Digital Encoding Operator.
Many ongoing projects ,including the entire Universal feature library and television series of all the networks owned by NBC Universal and its parent company, Comcast Communications.
Describe Your Job.
Our group is known as DMFO — Digital Mastering Fulfillment Operations. We provide our clients with file-based workflow solutions. We encode, transcode and deliver hundreds of features and episodics per month to over 200 clients all over the world. Netflix, Hulu, DIRECTV, Televisa, Canal+, Turner and BBC are just a few of the clients we deliver to daily.
We also serve as an in-house digital workflow department for some of the shows produced by NBC Universal Television. I am responsible for encoding and uploading dailies via web services and FTP (File Transfer Protocol) sites for shows like The Office and Parks and Recreation, and for creating playlists for the executives and producers to view.
When not dealing with dailies, I encode features and episodics into our mezzanine specs. The mezzanine files will be used to transcode to the client's specs and will eventually be delivered to the client. The specs vary from client to client. Once the files have been delivered, I move the files to a staging folder in one of our servers, where someone else will move them to a separate server and archive them into LTOs (Linear Tape Open) for future use.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
Since I was a boy, I wanted to work in TV or film. I attended San Bernardino Valley Community College before entering the film program at Cal State LA. During my senior year, I interned with the NBC Electronic Publicity Department in Burbank. During the internship, I was exposed to the post-production environment. Meanwhile, a couple of classmates and I finished shooting our student film and I edited the film day and night with very little sleep. I enjoyed the process of juxtaposing moving images and telling a story with them and decided that post-production was the career path for me. It is what I passionately enjoyed doing, no matter how tedious and stressful it may seem to other people.
Who gave you your first break?
Bill Watt at Modern Videofilm. He hired me as a trainee before I became a full-fledged Video Tape Operator. I worked there four years, gradually getting more involved with digital workflow. Later, Darrel Anderson at Level 3 Post offered me a job allowing me to get back into the union.
What was your first union job?
A web series called Quarterlife
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
Working as an Editorial Assistant/Logger on The Real World. I watched it religiously growing up and I was very excited the first time I saw my name on the credit roll. It was an entry-level position, but the editors and producers always appreciated the loggers' input because they knew we were the only ones who actually watched all the footage and we helped them build the story lines. I am really proud to have been a part of that production because I felt that I was part of a team — and because I was racking up hours to get on the union roster.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
When I worked the graveyard shift at Level 3 Post during pilot season, some guys working the overnight shift quit, leaving me to pick up the slack in the dubbing department and encoding dailies. We had four shows doing telecine dailies transfers and one RED dailies show. All down-converted masters transferred that night had to be encoded and uploaded before 7:00 a.m. every day.
On top of that, I was responsible for all air runs and delivery dubs for the regular shows and the pilots that were doing their online cuts. I was able to overcome these challenges by keeping complete and absolute focus. It is easy to forget what you are doing when you are running six-to-ten jobs at a time. Staying organized was crucial. It helped me to become more efficient and resourceful in my career.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
Working on the lot at Universal has its perks. On special occasions, we are allowed into the theme park and I was one of the first to get on the Transformers ride before it was open to the public.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
Still working in this industry, but I don't know at what level. There are many different variables that will determine that. All I can do is stay prepared.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
I like running. I have finished a few half-marathons, but these days, I do more 10ks and 5ks. I like to go to flea markets, yard sales and thrift stores on my days off to collect rare items that have some historical value. I also like to shoot Super-8 film.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
Pulp Fiction — I have never seen anything like it in terms of its non-linear storytelling. The Godfather, because it is the prefect movie. Slumdog Millionaire is delightful to watch and I like the underlying message. Exit Through the Gift Shop — I like Banksy's art and I love documentaries. I also liked the clever manner in which the story was told.
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
Deadliest Catch, because it seems like a very tough and dangerous job to be a crab fisherman. Pawn Star,s because I collect rare memorabilia and items myself. ESPN Sports Center, because I like to watch sports.
Do you have an industry mentor?
I have adapted work habits from many different people who have helped me tremendously throughout my career. There are just too many people to mention, and I don't want to leave anyone out, but I am very grateful for every lesson each of them has taught me.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
The technical aspects of this job are important, but time management, multi-tasking, and attention to detail are even more important. If someone sees that you're green in the technical aspects but you have the potential to take on a lot of responsibility, they will be willing to train you. Employers like people who can finish a lot of work fast, but there is no room for mistakes. Nothing is ever perfect, but certain kind of mistakes just cannot happen. If you are really good at attention to detail and can crank out a lot of work, then you are above average and are the kind of worker employers look for.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
I got work more than once by replying to the e-mails forwarded by the Editors Guild staff. The training room is also a great resource. Training Room Coordinator Dieter Rozek is always very helpful, and I attribute some of my skills to time spent in the training room. Als,o the staff is always there to help whenever I have an issue or concern with Contract Services or the MPIHP.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
Try to get more involved with your union. I know it is hard to find the time outside of work, but there is a lot of anti-union rhetoric going on. It will eventually affect all of us if we don't stand up and let our voices be heard.
Compiled by Edward Landler
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