Behind the Title: Encore VFX’s Robert Minshall

NAME: Robert Minshall

COMPANY: Encore VFX (@encorepost) in Hollywood.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT ENCORE DOES?
Encore is a post facility that specializes in the picture finishing of episodic television. This includes dailies, online editing, final color and VFX. Encore is a division of Deluxe Entertainment Services.

WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
Senior Compositor

WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
I create VFX by combining a variety of 2D and 3D elements in a (mostly) 2D environment.

Neverland Stop the Bleeding

WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
In my case, it would probably be the things that aren’t included in the title. I have extensive editorial experience dating back to the mid-‘80s, and I tap into those skills on a regular basis, especially when working on NCIS (pictured above). In addition to extensive VFX work, I handle all VFX drop-ins into the masters, drop-in inserts, re-conforms and, occasionally, I even handle minor recuts to better accommodate the VFX.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
Finishing difficult shots seamlessly. Of course, if I do it right, the average person would have no idea that anything was done to a particular shot, which is the ultimate objective. Client contact is also a part of the work that I like, which can be quite extensive.

WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
Working on difficult production fixes that take a lot of time or iteration, with very little payoff.

IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
That’s a tough question. This is actually my third career. I was an engineer when I got out of college and then spent a number of years pursuing a career in music before ending up in post. At this point, I’d probably be involved in some other aspect of television.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS PROFESSION?
It’s more like this profession chose me. I graduated with an engineering degree from MIT and moved to LA from Boston to pursue a music career. When that didn’t take off immediately, I found myself working as a materials engineer on the space shuttle program (at which point, I could actually call myself a rocket scientist from MIT).

After a few years, I chose to shift my focus back into music —with moderate success — mostly in the R&B field, working with artists such as Barry White, Deniece Williams, Johnny Nash and the Motown production team of Holland-Dozier-Holland, both recording and touring.

Since the work was sporadic, I also took side jobs to make ends meet, one of which landed me in a video facility at the time when the “video explosion” was the subject of magazine covers. Eventually, I went from wiring a facility to tape-op to editor to senior editor, with extensive visual effects work, to finally the Inferno workstation, where I still am.

CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
NCIS, NCIS: New Orleans, Under the Dome, Extant, Newsroom, House M.D., Weeds.

WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
Working on the original The X-Files really helped me build a reputation in the industry. I delivered the pilot personally to Chris Carter and was the finish editor on the show for the first four years. After the fourth season, I jumped to the Inferno, which is where I still am. My involvement with such a wildly popular show provided me with an unusually high profile. I also made significant contributions to Ally McBeal, Deadwood and now NCIS, which are obvious points of pride.

NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
My smart phone is indispensable; I use it to stay in constant contact with clients. My PC is also important because I am always emailing QuickTime files to producers for notes and approval, as well as doing various searches relevant to my work. Obviously, my workstation is key — without it, I wouldn’t be doing any of this.

DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK? CARE TO SHARE YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC TO WORK TO?
Sometimes I listen to music but other times it gets in the way. I like everything from classical music to ‘60s rock and ‘70s R&B. I have a penchant for female vocalists, and it’s a great time for them – Rihanna, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson, etc., along with a number of more obscure ones. Taylor Swift is also hard to ignore. I enjoy Prince as well and have a soft spot for Sly and the Family Stone. As far as I’m concerned, he pretty much invented funk, which, for a time, was a large part of my life. Folk, blues, guitar-driven rock, even some hip-hop if it’s good. There isn’t much I don’t like.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
I’ve delivered hundreds of TV shows either the day before or the day of air, so tight deadlines are just part of what I do, and it doesn’t stress me out the way you might think. It’s just the end product of what I do.

Outside of work, I spend time with my wife. We’ve been together for 37 years and I love her as much as I ever did. I enjoy going to the beach and riding waves. I play some golf and try to play at least an hour of music every day, either piano (mostly classical) or guitar. I love to travel when I can. I am never at a loss for things to do.


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