What Next? 101

By ch1c0nta@ctus 04.02.2012 blog

One of the more fun parts of my job is producing What Next? segments. We love it when you write to us telling us about your career aspirations.

You have emailed us saying you want to do everything from being an astronomer to a Lego designer, and thanks to your ideas, we’ve gone to Google, observed a heart surgery, and spent the day with a truck driver.
Last year, 15-year-old Taylor Hamilton from Huntsville, Alabama emailed to tell us that she wants to be a film editor. We thought it would be great for What Next?
When we decided to go with it, I went into action. I talked to zillions of movie companies and Disney agreed to let us meet with both the editor and the director of its new movie, “John Carter.”   One of my favorite things to do in What Next? is to surprise the teen that we will be featuring. We like to do it on camera, so I don’t respond to the emails of the people we choose…and hope that they think we have forgotten about them.
Then, I work secretly with the teen’s parents and school to arrange a way to surprise them. At Taylor’s school, the video department set up two cameras near a speaker phone and we called her during a class to tell her the news that we were flying her to California to meet a successful film editor. It’s fair to say she was not expecting our call!
One of the best things about producing is that you get to go along for the ride…so, I flew to California with Taylor and our anchor Scott, who I like to call “Scott-man!”
The director of the movie, Andrew Stanton has won two Academy Awards. I have never met an Academy Award winner before and thought he might be sort of intimidating, but he wasn’t at all. He was warm, friendly and easy to talk to. Erik Jessen, one of the editors on the film, showed us a lot of really cool stuff about how live action movies are made and edited.
Since it’s very expensive to shoot a film, the movie director plans out exactly what he is going to film before he starts. Then, an artist known as an animator makes what could be described as a video game version of the action before filming starts. The editor’s first job is to put that version together. Finally, based on the video game version, the director and actors shoot the film.
“John Carter” has lots of strange looking creatures, one of which is a huge white ape that is actually a computer-generated image. Before the computer generated version of the ape is finished, Erik edited in a cartoon-like version of the ape that is drawn by an artist so that the director can have a sense of what the scene will look like once the computer-generated version of the ape is done. Finally, once all the film is edited in, Erik edits in music. He says music is very important in conveying emotion and setting the mood.
After we spent the day with Erik and Andrew at Disney’s Barsoom studio in San Francisco, Taylor said film editing was definitely for her! Her family is saving money to buy her a Mac and editing software so she can get started. If there is a job you’d like to do when you grow up, email us and let us know what it is…and maybe we’ll surprise you next.

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