NAME: Chris Mackenzie
CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR COMPANY?
Harbor Picture Company is a New York-based post house known for our flexibility with workflows and our relationships with clients. We offer a complete range of post services — from offline editorial to Dolby Atmos audio mixing.
WHAT’S YOUR JOB TITLE?
WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL?
Digital conform, visual effects, titles and some problem solving. My work usually comes under the umbrella of final picture finishing. I’m responsible for getting the picture components to the final state for presentation, be that theatrical, broadcast television or Internet streaming.
WHAT WOULD SURPRISE PEOPLE THE MOST ABOUT WHAT FALLS UNDER THAT TITLE?
It would surprise most people that I do a lot of VFX work. Often, this happens to be last-minute fixes to address production issues that were overlooked. I am also often asked to address problems flagged during the quality control review of the final deliverables — a little unexpected visual effects work is usually necessary to get the project accepted for its final distribution.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
I like being able to fix a problem quickly and easily, or at least offer a creative solution to an issue. There are times — especially on lower budget productions — where a little digital paint or simple VFX compositing can resolve a big issue that may have resulted in a shot or scene being scrapped from the edit.
WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
The dreaded recut is my least favorite. This often means that work that was complete and approved now needs to be dismantled and redone. Unlocking an edit (changing the content of a project) used to be a rare event in post production. In recent years, however, having some continued editorial right up to the last minute before delivery has become more and more common.
The tools are a lot faster now. And, generally, operators are a lot faster and more flexible, but projects continue to push the envelope with major editorial revisions sometimes being made very close to the deadline for completion.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF THE DAY?
Probably mid-morning — I feel best after I’ve had my first cup of coffee, and I know I’ve got most of the day ahead of me. There’s rarely a 10am deadline, so at this point in the day I can concentrate on completing the work without the sense of being rushed to deliver a file.
IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE THIS JOB, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING INSTEAD?
At the same time I got interested in television and picture post, I was interested in art and photography. I considered going back to school to pursue an MFA related to digital image making.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS PROFESSION?
I was working as a bicycle messenger in Vancouver when I first graduated college. During this time, I made a few deliveries to some burgeoning post facilities and caught a glimpse at what I thought were interesting jobs. I imagined that those editors and colorists were creating the fanciest Super Bowl commercials and high-end music videos on a regular basis. Working indoors on an online editing system seemed like a much better (at least drier) career path for me.
HOW EARLY ON DID YOU KNOW THIS WOULD BE YOUR PATH?
Close to 20 years ago — which seems hard to believe — I saw early versions of Photoshop and Avid editing systems and was amazed by the capability of these technologies. I knew there was a great future for developments in this area and it was something that immediately interested me — for a brief period I was interested in other aspects of filmmaking, but it was post that really captivated me.
CAN YOU NAME SOME RECENT PROJECTS YOU HAVE WORKED ON?
Our team at Harbor just completed a few television series: The Knick, The Girlfriend Experience and Billions. We also recently completed Spike Lee’s feature Chi-Raq. Recently, we’ve adopted a divide and conquer strategy at Harbor — there are three of us working in Digital Conform and we usually share the duties of putting these projects together.
WHAT IS THE PROJECT THAT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
There are two. The first would be Gone With the Bullets, an epic 3D feature that was released to great fanfare in China. It was my first time conforming in 3D, and it was a massive project — thousands of cuts and hundreds of visual effects.
It was a huge challenge and steep learning curve, but during its run in China it received great reviews for its 3D quality. The second is Pan’s Labyrinth. This was one of the first films I had the opportunity to work on. I was inexperienced and really had to stretch my abilities to accomplish what was needed to finish the project, but the fact the film turned out so well really gave me a lot of confidence.
NAME THREE PIECES OF TECHNOLOGY YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
Autodesk Smoke, Blackmagic Resolve and the Apple PowerMac.
WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS DO YOU FOLLOW?
Facebook and a little Instagram
DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK?
Yes and no.
CARE TO SHARE YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC TO WORK TO?
I listen to a lot of NPR — occasionally it will be their music stream, but more often than not I listen to the current affairs or news programming. I like to feel like I’m learning something while I’m working away.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO DE-STRESS FROM IT ALL?
To de-stress I’ve gotten back into cycling in a serious way. Unfortunately, I recently had a cycling accident and am currently recovering from a broken hip, so it might be time to find a new hobby for a while.
I find being physically active and part of a demanding sport helps me to focus and increase my energy levels at work. It took some time management to find a schedule that works, but it’s definitely been beneficial and a nice way to balance the work I do in the office.