COMMUNIQUES :: marylon & doug

written: Sometime early 1995

Dear Marylon and Doug,

It is 10:30 on Wednesday the 31st, and it is finally raining cats and dogs here in LA.

It had been drizzling all day, but it didn’t really cut loose until this evening. When I went to my night classes at 7pm, it still had not poured like the weathermen had predicted. But when I got out at 10, it was unlike any other weather I’ve seen here yet. My only question is: what is it about massive weather systems that make the people in this city act so bizarre? On one hand, we have the 24-hour news coverage just in case it starts to rain hard enough for them to broadcast episodes of personal suffering…all in the name of ratings. On the other, everyone on the freeways continue to drive like business as usual…as if these roads are anything but usual. However, all is not deserving of pessimism in this city. Personally, I enjoy animated weather systems. They were always a release…a source of fun back in Arizona for they were so infrequent. Here, they do wonders to wash away the grime that builds up….sorry, I’m being pessimistic again!

The classes I’m taking are with an extension of UCLA that are held up at Universal City. Two classes that deal with the finer, more technical aspects of the post-production industry here in Hollywood – or in the world for that matter. In addition to learning the highly technical information about what makes up a video signal and what happens to it along it’s journey to being broadcast and received, but they’re also aggressively educating us on the latest in digital technologies that support the entertainment industry. My company is picking up the tab, so I’d be a fool not to take them up on the offer. In fact, some of my colleagues and I are in the process of drawing up a proposal to see if they’ll continue to further our collective education. See, all of “us” have at least a Bachelors degree. But what we all would like to see happen is if Tektronix, the parent company of Lightworks/USA, to allow us to customize a Masters. While it’s not a long shot to get them to fund this, the tricky part would be getting UCLA to accept the series of courses we consider to be worthy of a Masters degree. For one thing, the work that we are doing at Lightworks is , alone, worthy enough to write volumes on. It has never been done before. I’ll try and explain:

Non-Linear Editing…
Literally, it is the process of editing video tape (mostly, film transferred to tape: “telecine”) in a way that allows the editor immediate and random access to any and all material. Before, with “linear” editing, the editor would assemble the finished product from start to finish, one shot at a time. This allowed almost no flexibility. For example, if the editor realized that, while working on scene 45, s/he made a mistake in scene 13 (i.e.: it needed to be extended or shortened or the director has a change of mind). Everything that comes after scene 13 must be reassembled. Now, with the aide of “time-code”, there are numbers that have been saved that can be used as a referenced, but the physical element must still be re-edited. With non-linear, changes can be made immediately because the original physical element has been digitized onto computer hard drive. Consider the analogy of what the word-processor did to type-writing. What if you got done with a document and discovered you left out an important sentence in the first paragraph? Hopefully, you’d just have to re-type that first page…if the sentence wasn’t too long! So what Lightworks offers is an extremely intuitive system that is rooted in the basics of traditional film editing. Everything from the console to the Graphical User Interface refers back to film editing. Being so easy to use, yet using the latest innovations to speed up and simplify the process, Lightworks has recruited the finest motion picture editors in the world to work on their systems. Waterworld, Batman III, Die Hard III, Casino, Heat, and coming soon: Broken Arrow, Mission Impossible, Twister… the list goes on and on. The best (biggest) that Hollywood can produce. Needless to say, I have never taken so much pride in one thing as I have my achievements on this job. The system, however, is still a computer, which requires knowledge that I am at least a decade behind in. I come in where these systems are configured with an array of outboard devices like video tape machines, digital video machines, professional audio equipment, etc. These all get wired to one Lightworks system which get rack-mounted into flight-cases for mobility as well as durability. A lot of knowledge needed to be gained in a “sink-or-swim” environment so that I could help configure these systems together. Once they are set up and the 100’s of feet of cable dressed, it really does beginning to look like a work of art. All that wiring never looks like a rats nest…like the back of a home stereo. Yet, come to think of it, I’ve been doing things similar to this for years. Mom and Dad still call me “Media Boy” because I could hook up the cable and stereo and had a home-made home-theater.

I’m bucking the system that has given the bachelor party a bad name. As you may or may not already know, Brodie has asked me to be his best man in the wedding. And in addition to coordinating the groom’s side of the ceremony (I think), I must also get together with the groomsmen (sp?) to plan a celebration. Yet, I have a strong urge to do things differently than would be seen and done at a “traditional” bachelor party. Upon a suggestion of a colleague of mine, Phil, at the (world famous) Comedy Store, I think we’re shooting for what he has always called a “Stagg & Doe” party. He says that this is the way these things usually happen in Toronto where he’s from…it sounds good to me here in LA. The logic being eliminating the tasteless aspects of the celebration and combining the warmer sides of it. Since we’re all friends, why not all get together and celebrate as opposed to splitting up into strictly separate male/female soirees? I fully expect the two will congregate together before or during, but to have all of us together under one roof and cause seems warmer to me…more “productive” a party. Since Phil and I both work the “Main Room” at the Comedy Store, we were thinking of renting the place and packing us all in. We can pull it off for very cheap, we’d have a band for cheaper (Phil!), and who knows, it all may go very well. What do you think? I just have to “clear” it with my girlfriend Anna, who happens to be the Maid of Honor…my counterpart in more ways than one!!

Speaking of Anna, I am looking forward to introducing you to her. I don’t know if you’re aware of how long we have known each other. In the Fall of 1991, I was a new initiate in my Fraternity (DTD) at the University of Arizona, and she was a new initiate in her sorority (AF). And, as fraternities and sororities usually do, we would throw parties together. At one of these parties, we were introduced to each other by a mutual friend, and the rest, as they say, is history. We got along so well that friends of ours would always comment on how compatible we were. Despite that though, after six months of dating, our relationship began to run itself over some rocky terrain. While this separation was as bad as they come for collegiate dating, we still shared the same circle of friends and had classes in the same department. Yet, we went for roughly a whole year without saying so much as two words to each other. And just as though there was no excuse for this, there were even less words to describe why we eventually became best of friends during the Spring of 1993. Maybe it was because we had so much in common or the fact that we knew each other so well that we were well far away from any type of game-playing. Either way, we were inseparable for the rest of our stay at the U of A. In fact, we and our families spent our graduation day together. The most significant day of my like with the most significant person in my life at the time. Seeing as though we both wanted to follow some distant facet of the entertainment industry, we both headed west soon thereafter. Or friendship only grew deeper during this period of anxiety couple with exhilaration. We fed off each other for strength in the process of finding work in this industry. Remember, we were strictly friends. I don’t think either of us wanted to risk loosing the artistic union we shared. What happened next I can only attempt to explain. Perhaps it was our disgust with the patient, frustrating trial of the “dating scene” either for us here in CA or with old ties back in AZ. Either way, two best friends did what their friends had predicted all along and came back around full-circle. It makes perfect sense when you look at it in the light of what it is that makes up solidity of foundation in a healthy relationship. It must first begin with the respect that is gained only by friendship. Some couples may never have this need, others would do anything to have started with it. All we did was accept what, I think, had always been the natural progression…acceptation. And what was so romantic about it was that we both were so much in-tune that it was literally a discussion of feelings, emotions and fears concerning each other and our outlook together, and then…just a hug…just as before. Everything and nothing had changed. Needless to say, things have progressed since that night 8 months ago, and I have never felt better. In all the relationships that I’ve experienced in my life, nothing has ever even come close to scratching the surface of the groove that I am in with Anna. We’re both on top of our worlds. There’s just one problem: her world has migrated back to AZ to take an amazing job being her own boss printing her grandfathers pictures for the Arizona Historical Foundation. My only worry is that this project she’s undertaken will begin to take as long as I fear it will (she’s in charge of printing and archiving with a filing system over 10.000 negatives!!), and I’ll actually start to investigate the post- production industry in AZ! In addition to April, you will see her this summer as she will be coming up to Canada with me this year. It will have been three years since me last visit. Far too long.

Cricket and Brodie seem to be getting more and more excited as the weeks go by. Brodie and I have been trying to get all of the guys together to decide upon a day when we can all go get fitted for a tuxedo and choose a pattern for our vests. I really enjoy whenever I can get away and go over to their house. They have really taken off at full speed with fixing up a really nice house. It seems like every time I go over there, there is some new fixture on the wall or a new plant on the mantle.

I am looking forward to seeing the both of you in April for the wedding. Hopefully, I will get to hear from you before then. Please, let me know how Gil and Andy are doing in their lives. And as I have said before, I truly wish that we were able to see each other more often. I apologize for having let so much time lapse between writing at length. Although I find I can explain more precisely what is going on in my life when I can write it down, I seem to wait what seems to be far too long in doing so. And for that, I apologize. I hope you had yourselves a pleasant holiday season, and until I see you in April, I wish you the best.

much love,
Sean

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