Random Stories From My Life
A Day in Los Angeles Post-Production, 1995
L.A., the final frontier …
Going through some old papers, I found an interesting letter to friends back East … in the form of a journal entry for Tuesday, April 4, 1995.
At the time, I was an up-and-coming Avid (video) editor doing the freelance circuit in Los Angeles, living the dream of working in the world’s mecca of entertainment production — and loving every minute of it.
And sometimes, I’d visit friends also in “The Biz” to see what they were up to.
That day found me at Lantana Center, a collection of high-end TV & film production companies, located at 3000 W. Olympic Boulevard in Santa Monica.
The letter is a bit of a time capsule from the mid-1990s:
Personal Log, Stardate 9504.04
I’m visiting the workplace of a fellow editor I worked on a reality show with last summer.
Now, he’s crafting one of the final episodes of the TV series Northern Exposure. Today’s schedule is fairly relaxed, though, and he spends almost as much time on the phone making plans with friends and wandering the halls as he actually does editing.
But when he’s cutting, he’s very deliberate and very astute. I’m impressed.
In the very same building are a lot of other high-powered TV/film businesses, including what was Lucasfilm’s Skywalker Sound South (now Todd-AO).
I walk past that to another major post-production facility called Digital Magic, where I’ll spend the evening watching a telecine (film-to-video transfer) session of a good friend who just got back from some filming overseas.
That nighttime session doesn’t start for a couple of hours, though, so I’m passing the time in Digital Magic’s spacious kitchen area (which is well-stocked with snacks). And debating whether to go get a real bite to eat in the meantime … not realizing that dinner is about to be catered for everyone here.
And while channel surfing on the lounge’s rear-projection TV, on comes a re-run of Star Trek: The Next Generation. A pretty good episode, as I recall.
OK, so maybe I’ll stay.
Later in the show, there’s an interesting visual effects shot (a point-of-view thru Geordi LaForge’s visor) …
… and I overhear two people talking at the next table:
— “Did you do this episode?”
— “No, I didn’t come on board until later. I did seasons 5, 6 and 7.”
I turn around and strike up a conversation with the guy in question, an artist named Adam.
Turns out he now does the animated special effects for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Voyager. And a couple of other series as well. He’s also Bart’s handwriting on the blackboard at the beginning of each Simpsons episode.
He works 90, maybe 100 hours per week. Australian accent. Very nice guy.
I tell him I’m a big fan of Trek, and that I’d always wanted to see how some of that work is done.
“Come on,” he says, and motions me down the hall to his fancy computer graphics room (billing rate: almost $1000/hour).
Winding down from a long day of special-effecting, he’s outputting some finished shots for an upcoming episode of Voyager.
In the story, the crew is imperiled by some sort of floating monster made of light.
And though it may not be obvious with the iridescent glow he’s added, the basic shape drawn by our artist … looks kind of like a tangled, overgrown cosmic shoelace. Or better yet — a big, fat, jumbled piece of proto-pasta.
In fact, Adam tells me, he’s christened it with a name:
“Alfredo — the Fettucini monster.”
Coming soon to a Delta Quadrant near you.
I love L.A.!