Trevor Snyder: Data Expert Series

Hey there! Welcome to our Data Expert Series! We’re really thrilled to have you join us today and share all the amazing details about your workstation/cart setup. But before we dive into the nitty-gritty of your equipment and workflow, could you walk us through some of your past experiences in the industry?

Trevor: I started back in 2005 while surfing the internet and found this crazy website called YouTube. For the next decade, I would hone my craft by shooting, editing, and uploading over 500 videos. In 2013 I graduated high school and enrolled in film school at Columbia College Chicago. I quickly learned that I did not want to be an editor. It reminded me too much of being a YouTuber so I transitioned to the camera department where I started as a loader and soon became a 2nd. By the time I graduated in 2017, I was the go to DIT/loader on campus and was working on Indies and commercials. I joined Local 600 in the summer of 2018 and have been working on Chicago’s TV shows and features ever since, mostly as a loader.


What types of productions do you usually work on? What are the main ways in which they differ from each other?

Trevor: I mainly work on narrative episodic television and features with the occasional commercial and reality tv stint. I am currently the full time digital loader on Chicago Med. Episodics are like a stamp factory so my position is more of the role of a foreman and is as important if not more important to the department as my data management is to the whole production. My job is to make sure, no matter how chaotic the situation on set is, my department has exactly what they need, I am the eyes, ears, and voice of the department. Features are slower, and more methodical, generally you’ll shoot two to three scenes a day, whereas on episodics, you’re shooting 8 to 12 pages a day. Since it is usually a shorter gig, there is less back and forth between me and the rental houses, and my role is more focused on data. Commercials are a cakewalk. You show up, eat breakfast, set up the hard drives and wait for the three cards you’ll receive that day. Reality is much more fluid with the roles in a run and gun style, unpredictable, and you’re always hoping for the best.


And a follow-up question to that, do you have a favorite type of production to work on?

Trevor: I Like episodics and features equally as I feel I contribute more to the department. However, I do enjoy the camaraderie of Reality and getting to wear multiple hats every once in a while.


Now everyone has different preferences and a different cart/workstation set-up, could you tell me about yours?

Trevor: On Chicago Med, we are a three camera show. We shoot Alexa Mini 1080p on CFast 2 cards so my system isn’t extremely beefy. I have 3 CF card readers and 2 SSD readers to give me the ability to have two shuttle drives mounted if we are doing a double up day and I am managing both units. Everything, including the Mac mini, is mounted in an SKB rugged rack case, sitting on the bottom shelf of a Magliner Junior converted cart.

Travor’s DIT 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?

Trevor: When you are just starting a Macbook Pro, ShotPut Pro, and a good card reader is all you need. I recommend building more slowly as you learn your preferences instead of financially committing to something you won’t use or need. You should try things that work for you before you buy, and not be completely influenced by peers. That being said, going to trusted mentors will help you build your station.


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?

Trevor: Worry about yourself. Stay in your lane.  Find good mentors and nurture and respect those relationships. Have a system and stick to it.  When something isn’t working, make changes to your system thoughtfully, not in a panic.


What resources were most helpful to you when you were first starting out?

Trevor: My most important resources were the mentors who were patient with me and my learning curve and my stubborn determination to succeed and improve my craft.


Do you have any on-set stories you’d like to share?

Trevor: I worked on a not great Indie production. They were cheap and didn’t want to pay me for a full week and had me on for 3 days. They had one of the producers offloading cards the first two days of production. I walked on set and was handed all the cards and hard drives. I immediately did my system of taking inventory, numbering cards, and organizing file structures. By lunch I had a good system going. On the last day, they had a company move all the way across the city and they wanted me to stay at the first location to manage footage and suggested the PAs would carry cards to me. I said that I would be moving with them and PAs shouldn’t carry that burden. That night we wrapped out and they directed me to just drop off the hard drives at the front desk of their hotel as they were out drinking. Three weeks later they called and said they were missing footage and three cards and blamed me. Due to my system, I knew I was handed 7 cards and gave them 7 cards back. Thanks to ShotPut Pro’s offload reports I was able to prove that I never received the footage in question. Lessons learned: follow your system, don’t panic when challenged, and don’t agree to someone’s sloppy practice.


Is there anything else you would like to share that was not asked?

Trevor: The loader position is 10% managing data, but if you don’t have that 10% tight, you and your department will suffer due to the demands of the other 90%. As mentioned before, the Loader is the eyes, ears and voice of the department. Although you are the least visible camera department member, you are constantly putting out little and big fires before they even make it to set. You are managing payroll, expendables, broken equipment, special rentals, additional camera days, additional crewing, interdepartmental PR, and making sure everyone has exactly what they need when they need it.


So true, we are often amazed at all the roles DITS and loaders take on. Trevor, we’re really grateful that you could join us today. As you mentioned, relationships with mentors is so important to growing your skills, so by sharing your experiences, workflow, and tips for getting started, you’re providing excellent resources to help mentor others.

Be sure to keep checking back for more DIT interviews in the coming weeks!

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