‘Editing is an artistic creative job,’ says DIGIPOST senior editor

An insight into the job of our senior editor Nick Jones

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Nick works at his office at DIGIPOST

The first time I came to Nick’s office, it was for the interview.

In a not so big and gloomy room, there were only two giant monitors, a few wall pictures and a small sofa. It looked minimalist and quite lonely. But, the man, who welcomed me with a bright smile, looked so comfortable and happy in it.

As soon as we sat down for the interview, I couldn’t help but ask him right away the question that had bothered me, since I first read his brief profile on DIGIPOST’s website.

“How come an English Literature major from a UK college ended up being a senior editor at a post house in Vietnam?”

“By chance,” Nick said, smiling.

“I first became interested in editing films, when shooting and editing a fashion film for my friend,” he said. “I had previously edited a lot of behind-the-scene videos. But, it was not until then had I realized how fascinating it was to shape a story.”

“I felt so free. While there were rules to follow, I could follow my feelings as well,” Nick said.

He then started freelancing. And, like most of people in the post-production industry, where the hierarchy was strongly integrated, he started with small projects such as music videos and short films, and low positions.

But, it is never easy to do a good job. It is even harder to do a good job as a professional.

Working around tight deadlines, Nick spent countless hours a day sitting in front of monitors. He had to go through hours-long footage and a lot of related materials to find a good story to tell, sometimes just within just 15-30 seconds.

“It took a lot of my personal time, but I wouldn’t change it,” he said. “I know that the harder I work, the better the outcome will be. And I love to know that I am doing a good job.”

His hard work and patience over years were finally paid off, when his expertise started bringing him jobs with big clients such as Adidas, Comedy Central, Future Cinema, Marks & Spencer, and MTV Networks.

Nick spent about 8 years working as a freelance editor in London, before coming to Vietnam and working at DIGIPOST through a friend’s recommendation.

A senior editor now, he has never stopped learning, from other professionals, from books and from films. In fact, since he started working as an editor, the only training Nick has ever taken was advice from more experienced professionals.

“Passion asides, a good editor must have broad understanding about the world around him. Failing to do that, you’ll fall behind,” Nick said. “The more you know, the better you can shape a story. You need to know what you are talking about.”

Although the job demands lots of work and time, Nick said he felt “lucky” to be able to do it.

“Editing is an artistic creative job. I would never exchange that feeling of accomplishment when seeing how ideas on paper develop into something lively and knowing that I am a part of that process, for anything else.”

It’s time to break that prejudice towards Vietnam post-production

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A screenshot from a TVC completed by DIGIPOST

Director Luong Dinh Dung recently told local media that he sent his highly-anticipated movie “Cha cong con” (Father and Son) to South Korea for post-production. He said most of local directors had their works posted overseas, since post-production technologies in Vietnam are not comparable to other regional countries.

The claim is not new, as similar statements have been reported in local media over the past decade.

But how correct are the claims? Is it true that after more than 10 years, there is not a singular improvement in Vietnam’s post-production technologies at all?

It’s not.

The high-profile movie “Tam Cam: The Untold,” released at the end of August, was praised for its visual effects that were created by Vietnamese artists. Major newspapers such as Thanh Nien and Saigon Giai Phong have reported how Vietnam’s post-production technologies have been on par with regional and even Hollywood standards in recent years.

Vietnam’s young artists even have upped their game and created an animated short film, using the latest 3D Virtual Reality technology.

“These days, how advanced your technologies are no longer matters in post-production,” Andy Ho, executive producer at DIGIPOST, commented on the evolution of post-production. “Anyone who has money to spend on high-end software and other top tools can create standard effects.”

“Post-production is now about professionalism,” he said. “What distinguishes a top post house from average ones is how professional its workflows and personnel are.”

A Ho Chi Minh City-based post house with more than 22 years of experience and a team of international professionals, DIGIPOST, for instance, has provided services for both local and international film studios.

Now, however, due to business reasons, DIGIPOST only makes post-production for feature films selectively, like when its services are meant as a support for young filmmakers, Andy said.

“While feature films demand longer workflows and more complicate technologies, they take post houses longer time to recoup investment, compared to TV commercials,” he said in an explanation why DIGIPOST has focused more on TVCs in recent years.

“When the post-production market grows, DIGIPOST will expand its range. Meanwhile, it will continue to focus on the sector of TVCs where it has proved to be a leader in Vietnam,” Andy said.