Still Crazy After All These Years: A Room with a VU

This is my new "edit suite." I really call it an edit room, as "suite" sounds pretentious. I'm just simple folk. "Room" will do.
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This is my new "edit suite." I really call it an edit room, as "suite" sounds pretentious. I'm just simple folk. "Room" will do.

I built it and I love it. And look—yes, it's got a view. (Sorry, no VU!)

How did this gem happen? Read on.

Tricia and I have a little business that's got nothing to do with video production. A few months ago she took on Ruby Press, a PR company. I wrote about it in my "Diary of a Madman" trilogy, was it mid-March? Remember, we ate crab on our deck and called it a business expense.

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March 16
Ruby turns up at our house, my kingdom, my castle, with stylist Bianca, whose job is to make it look rustic and, well, "stylish." As Tricia says in her web credo: I like things around me to be comfortable, hardwearing, trustworthy, understated, utterly fit for the purpose.

That's the death knell for bottles of cheap wine; quick out-of-sight, into the fridge. My precious Sonos speakers, hide them under the sofa, along with copies Wired, Digital Video and Cinefex. The coffee table: replace it with a comfortable, hardwearing, trustworthy, understated wicker basket.

Then there's my bed with the driftwood headboard, a magnet for photographers.

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From Naturally, Danny Seo. Photo used with permission.

On Wednesday we have Alexandra working for Naturally, Danny Seo magazine. Apparently 350,000 people buy it, for $9.95. Yep, she's in my bedroom shooting the headboard and our star puss, Shibui.

"Alexandra, don't shoot my editing kit on the right!" "Don't worry, I won't—but can I move the bed a tad towards the window?" A 1930 Stenberg Brothers poster rolls out from under the bed and slowly unwinds. Alexandra gives me an old-fashioned look. She knows crazy when she sees it.

On Thursday it's Mason, a freelancer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Mason makes a beeline for the bed. My bed. Is nothing sacred?

"Mason, don't shoot my editing kit on the right!" "You sleep here?" He knows crazy when he sees it.

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The quote is a loose paraphrase of "I'm a crusty old English woman, I don't like advertising or fashion."

I used to edit downstairs in a room with a 65-inch Sony 3D monitor and a sign outside saying Man Cave. It was unfriendly, dark, cold and plain miserable. In the end, I couldn't take it anymore and moved all the edit stuff upstairs into my bedroom.

I have two 19-inch floor racks on wheels and nine hard drives with 136 TB. Yes, terabytes. Don't believe me? Count 'em: 48 TB + 24 TB + 20 TB + 2x16 TB + 4x4 TB—ouch! Then three large video monitors, three speakers, plus all the computer toys: a big, black Mac Pro cylinder, a Blackmagic Design UltraStudio 4K deck, a Teranex standards converter. I could go on with my scanners, burners and printers—and a zillion wires—all right next to my bed.

Wake up at 3 a.m., go to the bathroom, and on the way back cut an entire 10-minute sequence. Back to bed. Wake up. Did I cut that?

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My dining room table setup. Four of nine disk drives are on Shibui's favorite chair.

The weekend is spent trying to restore our house. "Have you seen the TV remotes?" "Under the sofa with the Sonos speakers." The toaster turns up a day later under the sink.

Out, Damned Kit. Out, I Say!
That's it. I've cracked. No more editing in my bedroom. I move it all out, lock, stock and UltraStudio. There it is on the dining room table—a temporary ploy while I figure my next move.

I hated the two big standing racks. One small, 19-inch tabletop rack (far left in the photo above) replaces them.

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Pair of Yamaha NS-10Ss in Studio C at Ardent Studios in Memphis. Love the hourglass. In the distance, lost in bokeh, are giant studio speakers.

Audio is always a problem. In the bedroom I had Andrew Jones-designed Pioneer speakers for center, left and right. The center, for dialogue, was never really in the right spot. Here in the living room I can position all three 15 feet away and it sounds great.

There's always a downside when the speakers are way over there. You also need them right there in front of you on the desk.

Let me explain: I designed Molinare audio studios in London back in 1973. We had Rogers BBC speakers, and on the desk a pair of cheapo "granny's trannies." In 1980 I replaced them with Yamaha NS-10s. These were the industry-standard nearfield monitors for the next 30 years. Even now you can buy NS-10; a good pair will set you back $700+. The theory is that if it sounds good on an NS-10, it will be OK in the home.

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Ikea table

BED (where it all started), BAY (the view) and BELOW
I like an edit room to have a simple table—mine is an old fire door on two Ikea trestles. You can buy these Ikea trestles for $40 each. Or you can get the whole enchilada—a grey desk table with two trestles—for $235 from Amazon, with free shipping and no need to drive to Ikea.

Then again, you might like an ImageMaster Edit Console from Forecast Consoles, available from B&H for $2,445. (That's just the table.) Expensive, but you can't beat it.

Downstairs, it's great but oh so bright. Tricia and I talked about blackout curtains the same as I had in my upstairs bedroom edit suite—damn, I typed "suite."

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ImageMaster Edit Console in Graphite Nebula from Forecast Consoles

Blackout curtains are not black but white plastic—they cut out everything. Zero light.

I have spent my life editing in darkness—now I want the view. The solution is to measure up and order a see-through blind. We settle on a Monterey 5 Percent Grey Mist N203 solar roller shade from blinds.com. Cost with promo discount is $107 and free shipping.

Size Matters
Last year, when I had my DCP made in Burbank, they showed it to me on a 46-inch JVC 3D LCD monitor. I was blown away. My own 3D monitor is the 24-inch JVC version—almost the same but smaller (duh). It sits on my desk and I can reach out and just touch it with my fingertips. That's how close it is. Comparing the 24 to the 48 is like comparing a nearfield Yamaha NS-10 to a hefty but distant Bowers & Wilkins monster speaker.

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It's dark at VTR in Soho, London. I'm standing top right—above seated Tricia. Pas de vue.

On eBay there's a used 46-inch JVC monitor. I spotted it a year ago. It is in L.A. and, as it's tricky to wrap and pack, the seller wanted local pickup. Then I checked again. Now he will deliver and the price has dropped to "make an offer." The original JVC 2009 price was $5,995. I offer $1,000 and he accepts.

And it is big and heavy. Amazon provides an installation service for $120 with the purchase of the $28 wall mounting bracket. "No, no, I can do it myself," says Tricia. "Are you sure?" "No problem, I'll ask Emile to help me. He's young and strong."

Sad to say, after a 40-minute struggle, both Emile and Tricia give up. Two days later, the $120 expert, Will, from Amazon arrives. "This is the wrong fitting."

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Tricia and Emile struggle with the 46-inch 3D monitor.

My bad, I bought it. But how's a boy to know?

"I can't use it. I have the right one in my truck. It's $99.99—you'll have to pay Amazon. I can take your credit card." It's a hot day at the end of June. Will sits on the floor and beavers away. Suddenly it's up—right up high—touching our ceiling. "Can you plug the HDMI cable in?" Bingo, liftoff, we have a picture and it's big, bright and beautiful!

Will rubs off finger and palm prints. I give him a $20 tip. He leaves happy. Me too, I'm delighted. I love this room. I roll the grey mist 5 percent blind up and down. Watch the ducks swimming as the tide goes from low to high. Up-down goes the 5 percent blind. Wheee, what fun.

"I've got ice cold Prosecco and orange juice," says Tricia.

Eldene, next door, is feeding the noisy ducks. We sit in my new edit room admiring the view and drinking mimosas. A blue heron and some little egrets have joined the ducks. Bliss.

Go online to see a video of my room and laugh at me wearing my kangaroo skin hat: https://stefansargent.dunked.com/my-new-room-with-a-view.

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Download the September 2017 issue of Digital Video magazine

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