AMD 2.1

Session Confessions: from the edit suite

Language differences, questionable cell phone connections and beach days are just some things that can get in the way of a smooth edit.

By Jennifer Walden

Even when you’re speaking the same language, client emails can be cryptic. To puzzle out their meaning, video editor Matt, in New York, calls the client to get some clarification. But due to a language barrier, a convertible car, and the conference call feature on an iPhone, there is a lot that can get lost in translation.

“We’ve been doing a lot of commercials for hair products recently, for a huge company that sells their products worldwide,” explains Matt. “So suddenly we’re talking to a creative team here in New York, a creative team in England, a creative team in Singapore, a creative team in Australia, and all over. So, 24/7, around the world, somebody has to have a say about the spot we’re working on.”

According to Matt, one creative team he’s been working with most directly is from this South American agency that resides in a city known for its beaches. “They speak some broken-English, but they certainly can’t write emails. The emails we get are technically in English, but it’s kind of like a crossword puzzle. You’re trying to figure out two things: A) what exactly it is they’re talking about, and B) what exactly it is they’re asking us to do.

“Editing is specific, like, ‘We want the girl with the blond hair to be in the third shot, and the guy in the car in the fourth shot.’ It’s very directional and it should be very specific. We get these emails and they’re insane, and so we have to call them. Every time we call them, I swear, they’re in their convertible and driving to the beach. I imagine that they’re leading these great lives where they get on their iPhones, and they look at the cut, and they try to formulate a response for us via email. All their emails are sent from their iPhones. So, when we call them to talk about the email, it’s usually a conference call, and all you hear is SSHHWWWWSHHSSWWWHWWHSHSHSHHHHSSSSS….
because they’re in their convertible driving to the beach!!

“And of course these are hair commercials, so I imagine they all have these beautiful tans, and great hair, and they’re wearing bikinis or little tights, and they’re all on their way to go play soccer on the beach. Being out in nature is said to be inspiring though, and it must be true, because beyond the language barrier, we always end up making great spots together.”

Jeney is a New York-based audio engineer/sound designer.  She is currently taking a short break from audio post to raise her kids. She is also a freelance writer, including for Post Magazine. She can be reached at

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