Bob Davis has worked in network television production for over twenty-seven years. He began as a freelance cameraman in the late 70’s working for major television and cable networks. Bob’s abilities were quickly recognized and he was assigned the tasks of Associate Director, and Director/Producer for sports broadcasting, including Director of Technical Operations for NBC’s Olympic coverage. Over the years, Bob has seen it all.
Always using the finest editing tools of the day, Bob worked to identify production objectives while realizing the highest quality broadcast specifications. As Director of Technical Operations, NBC Olympics, Bob was a key member of the network’s Olympic operations. Along the way Bob was recognized with 4 Emmy awards.
Using his keen understanding of production and strong technical background Bob successfully navigated the shifting landscape of editing paradigms and was named, Technical Producer overseeing some of the largest television events in the world including the Super Bowl, NBA Finals, The Olympics, and PGA Golf.
Today and in recent years Bob has completely embraced Final Cut Pro with Apogee Ensemble defining the best overall editing solution. With Final Cut Pro and Apogee’s Ensemble he is able to realize first class productions, while controlling every aspect of the project from one editing desk.
Working around Bob’s busy schedule, including the complete restoration of a Chinese military trainer aircraft, we sought his unique perspective on the transition from linear to nonlinear editing and his predictions for the future.
How would you sum up the changes you’ve seen in postproduction over the span of your career?
The toolset has become so complete; it has allowed me to effectively edit and deliver each component of a project. In the past a team of editors, each one expert in their field, would work to realize a single project. The workflow was film editing, sound effects, Foley, voice-overs, dialog, music editing and beyond. Today I do all this from my studio executing each decision and conforming the various components of a production. Conversely, in a nonlinear editing environment, with access to powerful servers the traditional editing team can realize larger projects with greater efficiencies and improved results.
On a typical project, describe your workflow?
Bob: As always I edit image first, I may edit while listening to scratch music tracks, maintaining a feel for edits. Once I have the correct sequence of images I move to post production adding sound effects, music and voice-overs. All this is done from one desk using the suite of tools in Final Cut Pro. Using Soundtrack Pro and Apogee’s Ensemble as my audio interface I can mix all the audio segments in a critical listening environment. This is especially important when delivering a project in surround.
So now you can deliver a complete solution to your clients?
Exactly. When I’m done with a project it’s out the door and it’s ready to go. No touching it after it leaves my hands. That’s why it’s really important to have critical audio monitoring. I mean it’s huge to have one unit that provides pro-monitoring and great Mic-Pres. I can mix through Ensemble and record my voiceover artists. The Mic-pre’s are just awesome.
Do most projects require Voice Overs?
Yes absolutely, the ability to work effectively and quickly with voice over artists is a perfect example of Soundtrack Pro and Ensemble working together. Ensemble appears in Soundtrack Pro’s control panel. The Mic-Pre's are controlled from the desktop or can be assigned to a control surface. I have the Mic-pre in and simply ride the level without going to the software application, Soft Limit works beautifully, there’s no clipping yet the audio is completely transparent. If I have more than one Mic up its easy to make changes on the fly… that makes things great. I just reach for the knob and punch in.
I do multiple passes of dialog assembling the final narrative from various takes and assigned tracks. The sound of the Mic-Pre’s are stellar and the result is impeccable sound and presence.
Audio content, sound effects, music and dialog are all critical aspects of a production how did you come to choose Apogee’s Ensemble?
I discovered Ensemble at the Apple booth during a NAB convention. I knew Apogee had a stellar reputation for converters. Ensemble was just what I was looking for; most projects are delivered in DVD format requiring surround 5.1 or beyond. I was looking for a multi-channel converter solution, which provided the best possible audio. At the same time I knew I would need Microphone preamps for voice-overs. I thought I would be buying external Mic-Pres until I discovered Ensemble. The Mic-Pre can be controlled from Soundtrack Pro that was a huge advantage. With Ensemble I have the best possible audio signal path second to none. I never worry about audio quality.
How would you describe your voiceover work flow?
I just put marks in and out then do multiple passes on the audio lay-downs. I’ll have the voice over artist do three or 4 reads of the same content and lay down 3,4,5 tracks, then go back, edit, lay them in and sweeten them up then I have something to pick from. It’s really easy to do. I use a control surface so it’s easy for me to trigger Soundtrack Pro for multiple audio lay downs. One of the nice benefits of doing it this way is I don’t have to reach for a mouse all the time; I can actually reach for a control button to hit record, EQ or adjust levels.
What do you see coming down the road for editing and creative?
Change will be defined by the increasing power of Macs. I never dreamed I would have this kind of power from a software/computer combo. The tools set for the individual editor is becoming richer in leaps and bounds. The big news is we are experiencing a complete democratization of production for example, you no longer need the gear found in major production centers to realize a feature film. With the acceptance of HD as an alternative to film I expect we’ll see a very active Indy movement for years to come. That’s great news for all.