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Transitioning from Tape to Transcoding

An interview with an old-school editor and modern-day RED shooter and streaming producer who is always learning, always mentoring

From time to time, we at Streaming Media Producer plan to interview someone in our industry who has transitioned from traditional production to streaming media production. Our initial interview with Frank Weeks, owner of Digital Cinema South in the Tri-Cities region of Tennessee and Virginia, is a great kickoff to the series.

Frank Weeks, Digital Cinema South
Frank Weeks in his current Digital Cinema South studio

"My first editing job was in 1977," Weeks says, "so I started in video production the year that Elvis died. In fact, a rep walked in to the Broadside Television office where I was working to show us a cutting-edge technology called 3/4-inch tape, and said, 'Did you hear the King died?'"

Cutting His Teeth as a Tape Cutter

Broadside was hired to produce an hour-long documentary on the Bill Monroe-Ralph Stanley Bluegrass Festival, which gave Weeks his first exposure to both entertainers-the first in a long list of many he's worked with-and his first exposure to video editing. While he had a degree in marketing from East Tennessee State University, Weeks said that first documentary confirmed that he'd found his calling in video production.

"When Broadside moved to Nashville, I decided to stay in the Tri Cities," says Weeks. "There weren't many production jobs in those days, so for a time I worked as an assistant manager at K-Mart, in charge of the Ladies' Apparel section. While it was their biggest section at the time, and I did well, I kept looking around for video work."

Bristol Sessions

New equipment being delivered to a local Bristol, Tenn., station (WCYB) provided an opportunity: No one knew how to run the equipment, so Weeks approached Bob Smith, News director of the station. Smith told Weeks he'd have to take a pay cut to come to work at the station.

"I wanted that job," says Weeks, "since it let me get into shooting and editing nightly news stories with first-rate equipment."

Station to Station

Within another year, Weeks moved to a competing station in Johnson City, Tenn. (WJHL) where he became a sports anchor and assistant sports director at the station. But he didn't stop there.

"Besides the local television work at WJHL," said Weeks, "I also enjoyed the freelance work we did for ESPN, CNN and CBS Sports, back when they would accept local submissions to fill airtime slots. John Madden even did a promo for us that aired locally."

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