Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Final Cut

Many of you know him and some of you do not. His name is Bob Malloy, and he's an editor. He does the strangest shit like putting his mouse on the left side of the keyboard even though he's right handed. He turns his keyboard upside down and types with his palms underneath. Sometimes he turns his whole console toward his clients so that he can get some perspective on where they're coming from with their requests. Either that or he's paranoid that they're making faces at him when they ask him to change something.

Well, I hadn't heard from Bob in a while. I got a little worried about him when 3 months went by and I hadn't seen him at the FCPUG at Brainwash (Final Cut Pro Users Group for you non-editors). Bob's producer Lisa called me looking for an editor to cut a results reel for Genetech. A results reel is a compilation of taped news broadcasts from around the country showing where they put a "story" on a typical Health and Science segment of the nightly news. It's advertising parading as information which causes the drug investors and day traders to get their boxer shorts in a bunch. The finishing touches hadn't been put on the cut Bob had been working on.

Lisa, the producer who I once thought was the hottest chick on earth but who was now looking somewhat haggard but beer-googleable (if you're not married like me), called me asking if I could finish out the job. I was still working on Dean Martin with no end in sight, so I had to turn her down. She said we should go out for a drink to figure out how she could finish this piece (of crap) without Bob, and I obliged her with no arm twisting at all. We met at Lucky 13, and she bought Newcastles all night. She told me that Bob was dead. Dead after attempting the dreaded Nested keyframe zoom chroma key sawtooth wipe of death. I immediately called bullshit on her bullshit. No way. Any editor in his right mind would never attempt the Nested keyframe zoom chroma key sawtooth wipe of death. She laughed and started to cry at the same time. I wiped her tears with my soggy beermat. She went to kiss me, but I pushed my wedding ring into her lips. "Nice try" I muttered as I took a swig of my 5th Newcastle of the evening. I walked out into the cold summer night.

The next day, as I was looking at footage of Dean Martin and Ann-Margaret shaking their asses while singing "I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am", my senses came to me. I decided to help out Lisa. She knew I would call, and she had already rented a suite at Beyond Pix to attempt that which had killed Bob. I left work five minutes early (4:55 pm) so I could get down there and get started.

When I arrived, Jen, the operations manager was leaving for the day along with everybody else. "Half-day?" I asked. She smiled slightly and said "Never heard that one before. No, just going out for beers. It's Thursday, ya know." I looked at my wrist where a watch would be, but there was only my bracelet. "Oh yeah. Where is it? I never get those e-mails anymore." One of her work buddies said "I can get you back on the list if you want. Just send me your e-mail address. It's at Eagle Drift-in Lounge tonight. Not to be confused with The Eagle." I walked into the suite and turned back to them, "Thanks. Hopefully I'll be getting out of here soon and I can have a pint with you guys." Jen burst into laughter "Yeah right! You'll be lucky if you get out of here at all!"

I sat down at the console where there was a note on a post-it from Lisa. It read: "The latest sequence is called "Rev 27". It only needs that last transition completed and you're done. Call me when you're finished. Thanks!"
Yeah, only that last transition. Only the dreaded Nested keyframe zoom chroma key sawtooth wipe of death. I sat down in the chair that wasn't an Aeron chair. The last chair Bob Malloy ever sat in, the last suite Bob ever edited in. I got right to work.

Hours passed. AC drunk dialed me to ask when I was gonna finish up. I paced the room back and forth at least 100 times. I took my shoes off. I did headstands. I channeled Bob as best I could. I put my mouse on the other side. I turned the keyboard upside down. I remembered what the famed editor Walter Murch said at a lecture: "I stand when I edit. It makes one impatient with the footage." I stood. Nothing. I stood on one leg. Nothing. Suddenly I remembered that I had my Wacom tablet in my bag and forgot to plug it in. I removed the mouse, inserted the plug and grabbed the stylus. Success! "Holy FUCKING SHIT!!!! I DID IT!!!" I pinched my arm to make sure I wasn't asleep on the sofa dreaming. And to make sure I was still alive. I was. I raised my arms in victory and let out a sigh of relief. "I did it." I looked at the clock and it was 4:20 am. Then I heard the sound of one person clapping slowly from behind me. It scared the shit out of me. I turned around and it was Lisa. "You did it. You're finished." She sprayed something in my face that knocked me out cold.

I awoke groggy and with a massive headache. I was in a shooting stage with bright lights shining directly at me. My hands and feet were tied with gaffers tape. I tried to wriggle my hands free, but it was no use. I was tied to another person. He said "Dude, will you stop moving around? I'm trying to sleep." I remembered that voice. It was Bob Malloy.

To be continued...

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