Post Magazine

May 2010

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The Changing Business democratization of post, new profit models and how they’re positioning their companies for the future. H of Post Evolve or die. That is the conclusion these long-standing post houses came to in order to survive.By Christine Bunish An offline suite at Optimus in Chicago. POST: You and your companies have deep roots in the post industry. What are some of the major changes you’ve wit- nessed in the business and how have you adapted to them? TIM MCGUIRE: “Instead of continuing to do things as we had in the past, we made a commitment to change so we could be competitive and offer the services our clients — who primarily make commercials — were looking for. Cutters started as an offline editorial boutique in 1980. By the early ‘90s there was a trend to offering all post services under one roof, and digital finishing was just beginning. So in the fall of ‘92 we opened [an] all-digital online finishing facil- ity.The next year we followed with an all-digital sound mix- ing room. In 1994 we purchased Flame serial number 001. “By the late ‘90s the trend was turning back to the bou- tique environment.At this time we decided to create three different business units by rebranding the different services we offered.We created three boutiques: Cutters Editorial, Sol Design and Another Country Sound.There were sev- eral benefits for the company, because today much of the work done by Sol Design and Another Country come in- dependently of Cutters.We opened Sol Design in Santa Monica in ‘99 and Cutters Editorial in Santa Monica in ‘07. Then in the fall of ‘08 we opened the production company Dictionary Films in Chicago to provide the full range of production and post. All of these moves have opened new doors for the Cutters family of companies and enabled us to better service our clients.With the advent of all the new media opportunities,we're excited!” ROB HENNINGER: “We started the company in ‘83 when all videotape was analog and editing was strictly lin- ear.Video was just beginning to supplant film in the docu- mentary world, which is a key part of the Mid-Atlantic mar- ket, and this created a great opportunity for an upstart in the business. Our first suite was interformat: 3/4-inch and the new Betacam mastering to 1-inch — improving quality by saving a generation.The next big thing was the advent of digital disk recorders, tape machines and digital audio work- stations, which again improved quality and flexibility. About the same time, the early ‘90s, nonlinear editing was intro- duced as well as big improvements in computer graphics and 3D animation.We embraced all these technologies early and sometimes even led the way.This let us build up a true ‘one-stop shop’ and grow rapidly. In ‘91 I got the notion we were heading toward a networked world and devel- oped a hub-and-spoke strategy, getting up to nine locations and over 230 employees.We got into high definition early, too, and by the late ‘90s got a little ahead of the market. Networking was adding more cost than value and the power of desktop systems was leading clients big and small to do more and more in-house. So we changed strategy and began concentrating our operations, equipment and talent in Arlington.The big things now are file-based work- flows, asset management and digital distribution — these are creating fundamental changes to the business.” GRETCHEN PRAEGER: “Optimus was founded in ‘72 by Jimmy Smyth as a creative boutique, went full service in ‘79, and then Smyth sold the company in ‘86 to Anheuser- ow does a post house not only survive but thrive in an industry that never stands still? Five veteran executives share longevity secrets and discuss the

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