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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

Going Solo

A few years later, Weeks got the independent producer bug, leaving WJHL in 1984 to start World Class Productions, the Tri-Cities first independent production company.

"We were housed in a studio in downtown Johnson City," says Weeks. "During the nearly 25 years of work at WCP, we produced marketing and sales videos for many of the region's most progressive companies as well as television programs for local and regional broadcast."

World Class Productions set a number of firsts for the region: first independent production company with component (3-chip) equipment, first in-house film production, first computer animation rig, and first digital nonlinear editing. In 1997 Weeks returned to graduate school in 1997 at the ETSU Advanced Visualization Lab.

"I saw the value of computer graphics and animation," he said, "within the video and film field. I was fortunate to have some first rate instructors and training at ETSU. The things I learned there a fifteen years ago, are of dally use to me today. I remember having to work on Silicon Graphics machines to obtain my Level 2 Certification in Alias/Wavefront (creators of Maya). Things sure have come a long way."

Seeing RED

Weeks continues to learn: Two years ago, when digital cinema reached a level of affordability, Weeks spent several months acquiring and learning new equipment, a 4K digital cinema camera and a 2K digital cinema editing package.

Frank Weeks, Digital Cinema South
Frank Weeks with his RED One

"We have the region's first RED camera," says Weeks, referring to what is now known as RED One, a camera that shoots 4K (4096 horizontal pixels) images, at about eight times the quality of HD, but can also be used as a streaming camera thanks to its 3G HD-SDI (1080p) simultaneous output.

"Like anything that's very specialized, though," he adds, "I believe in spending time working through all the options before I use it at a customer job."

Weeks also mentors across the region, training several shooters (as video and film camera operators are called) over the years, not just in the traditions of tape-based and non-linear editing but also in the more recent world of high-end streaming and digital cinema production. Weeks has won more than 20 awards for excellence in marketing and advertising, including Addys and a region-wide award sponsored by Charter Communications. But he says his best work is ahead of him.

Frank Weeks, Digital Cinema South
Recording in the Digital Cinema South studio

"I changed WCP's name to Digital Cinema South," Weeks said, "to reflect the fact that we can now produce motion picture-quality content at a fraction of the price. I look forward to introducing digital cinema and streaming production techniques-which really aren't much different from traditional broadcast, at least on the acquisition side-to a new generation of shooters and clients. We've already picked up a project in Germany for later this summer, so it's an exciting time."

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