Greetings and welcome to our Data Expert Series! We are thrilled to have you with us today as we delve into your data workflow. Before getting into the specifics of your tools and configuration, would you share a few a bit about your experiences within the industry and how you got your start?
Kenny: Hi, first of all I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to be here sharing my experience in the field. ShotPut Pro was the first software that I fell in love with when I started in the field.
I started in this field by joining the editing department, an opportunity given to me by a senior director, who then guided me and gave me countless opportunities to improve. I myself graduated from Media Innovation, which focused on advertising creative, so the opportunity given really boosted me to my first steps into the film world. When I started in this industry there was still the use of beta tape and film. I love to work with those mediums as they are almost indestructible. After a year in editing, I joined the post production department as a colorist.
For almost 3 years I worked as a colorist and slowly the world entered into digital. I joined several courses by RED Digital Cinema to learn about the workflow for digital, which started my interest in becoming a DIT. In Malaysia, me and a few others are the first-most pioneers into the so called DIT world.
I still remember my first job as a DIT was using the first RED Digital Cinema camera, which was RED ONE. It was really difficult at the time because the camera was first in and that was the only chance for us to learn, try and make errors. I always remember we need to be a camera technician as well as a DIT because oftentimes an AC doesn’t fully know how the camera works. I was glad to join the digital world as it trained me for many difficult situations.
Kenny Carrying Equipment on Location
What types of productions do you usually work on? What are the main ways in which they differ from each other?
Kenny: I mainly joined film productions in Malaysia. In film production there’s more room for you to explore and improve as they focus more on the quality of work. In film production my job scope as a DIT is wider, which includes color on set, data management, sound sync, and work as a camera technician most of the time. In this type of production it is more challenging in terms of creativity. As a DIT, you need to be more creative in the look and exposure, which are going on at the same time, and need to make sure everything shot is safely in the can.
I also did join a lot of UK/US TV series in the past 5 years such as Marco Polo, Strike Back, Westworld and The Singapore Grip just to name a few. This type of production also required creativity and fast turn around. Normally they do require that we did a perfect look for every shot in terms of color, exposure, and consistency. So everything needs to be perfect before we generate the proxies for the editor.
Last but not least, in recent years I have joined TV shows or Reality shows. Just to name a few, The Amazing Race Australia, The Real Love Boat AUS/US, and Million Dollar Island. This type of production requires more data management as there are multi cameras for it. Here data management does become really important as every data shot needs to be kept safely in the can. ShotPut Pro really comes in handy. I love the new version that comes with a more organized interface and more functions in it. I also love the pause and report functions so much.
DIT Cart on Set During a Night Shoot
And a follow-up question to that, do you have a favorite type of production to work on?
Kenny: I think I have joined the most types of productions compared to my fellow DITs around me. For me there is no favorite type of production. All of them from Film, TV Series, Reality Shows, to Stand up Comedy, have their own pros and cons
For me, my favorite is any kind of job that challenges me and is fun too of course. I do love to work in a production that allows me to be creative on my own, to create some great work with others and to provide a great workflow for post production at the same time.
Now everyone has different preferences and a different cart/workstation set-up, could you tell me about yours?
Kenny: As for the cart set up, I do have several carts that serve different types of situations.
For the film and TV series type of cart I use the Junior Magliner. This type of cart is really great, they can fit literally on any tight space and lift too. Inside the cart I will bring a great color wheel, a power backup such as the APC UPS, several great pieces of software such as the great ShotPut Pro, Parashoot, Davinci, video switcher, 2 color grading grade monitor such as (SONY Trimaster or Eizo), blazing fast SSD Raid such as the OWC SSD Raid Casing which can give me a 32TB of backup, several types of fast readers is important too as time is gold for a data manager, last but not least adapters and cables are all important as well.
As for TV commercials and Reality Shows I don’t really have such a cart due to the reason that we travel all around the world and are fast moving. Normally I will prefer just a Rock’n’Roller cart. This will do the job as not much equipment will be used on it. Examples of equipment that are used by commercials will be a good Macbook Pro and several raid SSDs. As for reality shows, more power readers, Raid SSD, and a power backup are essential.
Kenny’s Colorist Cart Set-up
For those that may just be starting to build their cart/workstation, or are in the early stages of it, what are some pieces of equipment that you consider absolutely essential?
Kenny: Firstly, I would say invest in great software such as ShotPut Pro, you will not regret investing and learn about it. A great software not only makes your life easier but it will bring down the workflow to almost zero risk such as losing or corrupting data. We are living in 101010 data now, scanning them with our own eyes will be hard to detect any error on them.
Secondly, of course a great computer. A recent Silicon chip MacBook Pro will do the job easily. If you are not an Apple user I suggest you learn about it and go for Apple as Windows might be powerful and cheaper in price, but security and stability still goes to Apple, hands down.
Thirdly, the thing that I think is absolutely essential is backup storage. Try to get a great Raid SSD if possible. This will make your life much easier with fast storage data management. Besides that, for jobs in film that need color management, this will come in handy.
Fourth, is all the accessories and cables. Try not to get the cheapo type of cables that will make your life harder. With corruption of files and slow transfer, that will kill you as a DIT.
Offloading Station with Card Readers, Drives, and Cables
Going along with the previous question, do you have any tips for beginners in the field? What’s something you wish you knew when you were first starting out?
Kenny: When I first started as a DIT, everything was trial and error. Nowadays, there’s so many courses and information about DITs that you can easily grab on the WWW, so work hard to gather as much information as you can before you kick start your career.
Tips that I think that I can give is always give your 100 percent when you are on set, as a DIT there is no room for mistakes. Any mistake caused by DIT might cost a lot. Of course you also need to always keep up to date on the tech industry as this industry has been growing like mushrooms. There are 10-20 new techs every year, so there are so many formats you need to familiarize yourself with. Last but not least, work smart not hard.
Something that I wish I knew before I was in this industry is the importance of having a mentor to tell you everything. A mentor will absolutely be important for you to kick start your career as in my country you need to be recognized before anyone will hire you. So, my kick start was totally painful and I learned by myself.
Drop-off Zone for Media Management
Is there anything else you would like to share that was not asked?
Kenny: I think the reason that I really fell in love with DIT work is because it’s something in between post and production, so it’s really related to what I have done during my younger years yet brings me lots of opportunity to travel around the world and always provide the best data management to the productions that I work with.
In my country the DIT position is not really seen as important by the younger people. I hope I can use this platform to share my stories to others so more people are aware that this position is something that is so important. Never stop believing in yourself when you are doing good at something that you are meant to be doing. Do what you like and love it, then you will never work in your life.
Thanks so much for your enlightening responses Kenny. As we continue with these data expert interviews it has been amazing getting to learn more about the different perspectives on the DIT role from people in industries around the globe. I think your story is testament that even in industries where the role has not been as fully established, it is still possible to show its importance and that there is a great need for it. Thank you again and I wish you all the best in your future offloading!
Be sure to keep checking back as we draw closer to the end of this interview series.