Meet Editor Sarah Katz

We are excited to introduce you to Sarah Katz, editor at Frame.io, an Adobe Company. Sarah details for us some of her early work experience –  including 8 internships(!) and offers practical advice for people trying to get into this business. She also peels back the curtain and shares the workflow she uses when working on projects for and with Frame.io, the market driver for cloud-based video review and collaboration. Enjoy meeting Sarah!

LAPPG: It looks like you had a bunch of internships starting out. What led you to choose the path leading to post-production.

Sarah Katz: I actually had eight internships in college and four of them were at Viacom, now called Paramount Global. The first one at Viacom Catalyst, where they did all their creative services, really influenced me because I learned Final Cut and Photoshop. They taught me everything I knew and took a big chance on me. Even though I was a Media Studies Major at Queens College and took editing classes, the people who worked hard with me at Viacom was where I got my real education.

I was very conscious of the fact that I needed an actual skill set on my resume. My parents had hardwired into my sisters and me the importance of financial independence and security, so I felt I needed a skillset that people were going to latch onto. As I started editing, I realized that I was pretty solid at it and that skillset would be the one that stood out. At the time, I also worked heavily with Photoshop and After Effects and considered the design route, but with the way my brain works, I liked the movement of it all. I landed my first job two weeks before graduation at (Viacom’s)TV Land marketing team. I actually got it through an internal internship fair, which I ended up running the booth for every year after that. It’s a good Viacom success story—from intern to eventually producer/editor.

But back to my first job at TV Land: I was assigned to be the PA on the final season of Hot in Cleveland and I would take initiative in my spare time and just start editing little things. Like, I knew that Mario Lopez was going to be in an episode, and I knew he was in an episode of Golden Girls. I thought, let me see if I can make a hybrid promo and see how that works. And it did. And they aired it that week as their promo!

For me, it was more about getting a solid foot in the door. I just wanted to do something creative and I didn’t want to limit my options. I know a lot of people go into it with the headspace of “I want to be a director, so I’m going to be a director.” But that wasn’t my head space at all.

LAPPG: So now that you’ve been an editor for a while, what is your favorite part of the editing process?

SK: My favorite part of editing is that first pass because that’s really your baby. Everything after that is when I say goodbye to it, because rarely does a spot get approved on the first pass. And sure, there are a lot of people’s notes, and I welcome those because it’s how you grow!

Sarah standing at workstation
Sarah in her element at an standing edit workstation.

LAPPG: As you’ve worked your way up, and you went from New York to LA, it seems like short form is where you landed. So what skills or traits do you think working in short form requires and what do you like about short form?

SK: Well first, I don’t think you need to be in LA, per se. The reason I moved was because I got a job at Hulu and they moved me out here. It was one of those things where it’s like, if I don’t take that job, I’m always going to wonder what if… so I took the job. I’m still kind of bi-coastal—my whole family is in NY so I’m back and forth all the time.

When you’re thinking about short form—let’s say you’re telling a case studies type of story—you need to think about “What is the goal of this piece and how can you say it in the simplest, but most impactful way?” So as you’re screening the footage, you’re listening out for those lines and moments.

If it’s a three-minute piece, if it’s a :30 piece, I can review it over and over and over again, soaking it in the way the viewer would to see if what I’m doing is working. They’re little digestible pieces of content and I can get into my viewers’ headspace a bit.

LAPPG: What advice do you offer for people trying to get into the business?

SK: You need to start somewhere and get your foot in the door, which means you have to have a wide range of skills and be open to different entry-level opportunities. Don’t be too narrowed-in at the beginning, because there’s so much time to pivot. So, that’s my first piece of advice. And my second piece is don’t have a five-year goal. People always ask me in interviews what my five- year goal is and there isn’t one because this industry is so consistently changing that I don’t want to disappoint myself. I’d rather ride the wave and see where it takes me, with the consistent underlying goal of growing my skillset and progressing forward.

For example, landing at Frame.io, making content to market products that I fully endorse and would have loved to use at Viacom and Hulu is something I’m so grateful for, but never would have imagined was part of my road map five years ago. It’s kind of a meta experience because we’re editing for ourselves. We are our target audience. We’re those industry folks who would use Frame.io for production and post at our jobs even before we worked at Frame.io. We all have previous experience from our careers that directly impact how we build the technology for our peers.

LAPPG: So having a job with an industry leading company, like Frame.io as an editor, sounds like a dream job. Can you tell us about the work you do there? And can you give us an example of a workflow for project you find challenging, but are particularly proud of?

SK: It really is a dream job because we’re using our own product every day to create productions that we use to market to customers like us. People who don’t use it and see my editor workflow at Frame.io are like, “Oh my God, we don’t work that fast. We’ve never done it that fast.” To me, I just think this is the way everyone’s doing it, but I’m wrong. Working for Frame.io makes me an early adopter of the future of editor workflows and I’m honored to be a part of it.

This all really hit me when we were planning our NAB shoot because we had three weeks from the day we wrapped production for this piece to be finalized. I was on set with Michael{Cioni} for a 3-day shoot and he was directing. By using our Camera to Cloud workflow, I was editing on set all three days which meant post was happening simultaneously with the shoot. I had my assistant editor there, and we were set up to Lucid Link so that we could both be in Premiere Productions at the same time to organize dailies, etc. The shoot was Wednesday to Friday. By the time we wrapped on Friday we were 75% done with the edit.

Sarah is able to start editing on set.

By Monday, we technically had a first pass to share, but we didn’t have time on [Frame.io co- founder] Emery Wells’ calendar yet. When we started the shoot, we’d calculated Camera to Cloud giving us a head start that would give us a cut to share by Wednesday, which meant that we beat our own predictions! We ended up showing Emery on Tuesday and then from Tuesday to the following Tuesday, I’d say I had like 25 passes back and forth to get picture lock.

We had a lot of music choices that everyone had different opinions about, and at the same time we had animation and VFX that needed to be placed in, and then color correction and mix. So it was a super hefty project.

We used Frame to organize the versions for all the different departments, so, like #Animation001, #Animation002, etc. The same for VFX and the rest, so we could send the versions out to all the different disciplines, including color. They’d see the 001, 002, 003 and all the spots in the piece that they needed, which meant that we were able to split it into two lanes of continuing posts, but I could keep my focus on the cut.

We delivered in three weeks, and it was awesome and incredible because Camera to Cloud gave us that time advantage. In the past, I was always waiting around for a drive, which meant that I couldn’t work during the production and that was wasted time. I feel weird because it sounds like I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid, but it really does save a ton of time!

What was also amazing was that because I was cutting while they were shooting, I could work with Michael to answer any questions we might have while we were on set. We were doing a lot to link up different shots and make it look continuous, so having that reference was incredibly valuable. Did we shoot it fast enough to match the shot before? Did we need another angle or an insert? We would be able to go back and forth and figure that out while we were still there. And then, when they were setting up for a new shot, Michael could come over to me and check out my progress.

LAPPG: Speaking of Michael Cioni, Sr. Director of Global Innovation at Adobe, he seems to be this incredible blend of creative and technical and quite an industry leader. What has been your experience working with him?

SK: Yeah. He’s a visionary through and through. You watch things about visionaries, you see them on TV or in documentaries, but I’m actually working with one, which is pretty wild. Not that he would ever call himself one and that’s not how he sees himself, but you have to understand that this man knows every single element of production, every single element of post, and he can give you notes on every aspect.

Director Michael Cioni and Editor Sarah Katz take a moment onset.

And it’s not just, oh, he’s dabbling in it. He’s an actual expert in everything that he does, so there are so many ways I can learn from him. At that same NAB we did the video for, I got a chance to present about Camera to Cloud. It was my first time presenting, and I really tried to emulate some of the ways that Michael speaks. He’s a role model for me in so many ways and I feel so lucky.

Michael Cioni and Sarah Katz working on set.

I’m always trying to keep up with his speed but sometimes I have to remember that he’s a superhuman in every possible way, and you just can’t always keep up.

Sarah Katz presenting at NAB 2022.

LAPPG: How has your work changed since using Frame.io?

SK: Well, first, there is literally no point in using email anymore. I mean, I use it to get invites for meetings. Slack is how I communicate about little things and Frame.io is how I communicate everything that applies to the actual work. And if I’m sending a Frame.io link it’s over Slack, because we’re sending someone to the project. They would know where to go to get back to that spot.

Frame.io gives you organized, localized notes, but it also lets you draw right on the specific video frame. I’m not a mind reader, so if you want the punch in a little to the left and you can draw the placement for me, I can see exactly what you want. Or if you want a portion of a spot sped up, let’s say, you can make a range-based comment so I know from exactly what part to what part you want sped up. These notes make it so much clearer and easier for me and it saves a few rounds back and forth.

LAPPG: And where are most of these pieces you’re editing, airing?

SK: Obviously YouTube is a big one and our social outlets. A lot of them also go onto the Frame.io website. So the, “What is Frame.io” video that we just completed a few weeks before this NAB piece is the first thing you see {on the website}—it’s like, “Oh, you want to know how this works—watch this video.”

Sales uses them a lot. If we’re trying to sell to an agency and we can show how an agency uses Frame.io, it’s a very useful sales tool. Honestly, we get requests for video content from lots of parts of the business, from Sales to creating ads for Marketing to doing testimonials, to instructional videos and presentations.

LAPPG: How do you see Camera to Cloud contributing to future of filmmaking?

SK: It is the future of filmmaking. I mean, a friend of mine who doesn’t have a huge budget is shooting a movie and I got him a Teradek Cube to give him access to Frame.io. And now they can have the editor making sure that they’re capturing exactly what they need while they’re shooting, which is tremendous. They get to save money on the editor. They get to show the people who invested in the movie what’s happening quicker. This technology changes more than just the speed at which you work—it changes the way you work. You can reshoot something immediately if you need to.

I think never losing the footage is another. When you’re shooting and your footage is going immediately into the cloud, you never have to worry about losing a drive. And then there’s the ability for news footage to be immediately available. For example, when Steph Curry shot his record-breaking three-pointer? That was Camera to Cloud proxies that got put up on Twitter in 15 minutes. And the only reason it took that long was that they wanted to use the locker room footage afterwards and there wasn’t a mic directed at his mouth, so they needed to put captions on and make sure they were accurate. That’s what took the 15 minutes. But the proxies were there immediately.

I think about what it’s going to do for news, what it’s going to do for sports, what it’s going to do for archival purposes around the world. And now that Filmic Pro is integrated with Camera to Cloud, I think about things like social media. It’s so fast and so easy. An editor or an AE can just edit it and post it, especially since you can get 4K video proxy files and full-bandwidth audio to the cloud immediately.

I think Camera to Cloud for filmmaking will be tremendous, as well, because why would you want to have to ship hard drives? What about if you’re shooting in Australia and you want to use an editor who’s in Europe? It’s no longer about location, it’s about getting the best talent available. In my opinion, that’s what Camera to Cloud is going to enable for features.

LAPPG: In what way are both sides of the playing field – production and post affected by using Camera to Cloud?

SK: Basically, Camera to Cloud is about giving the people who need access to the content an easy way to get it. For production, if there’s a shoot going on, you don’t have to crowd around video village. The producer could be running around but can watch the shoot on their phone and check to make sure what shots have been recorded. Or the producers or clients don’t even have to be near the set, and they can see what’s going on. As the editor, I’m able to download the footage and start cutting. As the director, Michael can use [the Frame.io integration with] ZoeLog so he can keep markers on the takes he likes and tag me. And I can get a notification from Frame.io on my watch or phone.

And then beyond the production, it’s the way for all your teammates or clients to find everything in one centralized location. That’s what’s really amazing.

Sarah onset with the Frame.io production team.

LAPPG: So on a more personal level, how do you maintain the work-life balance, especially working from home and do you have hobbies or any special things that you do for self-care.

SK: Yeah, it’s important, especially when working from home. I do have a separate room for my editing station, which I know is lucky. Not everyone can do that, but having that separate room, that’s my office space so mentally I can close that door. My living room’s for relaxing. My bedroom’s for sleeping. That’s super helpful.

Living in LA the weather is beautiful and I live right by Runyon so I run and have it down to a tight half hour loop that I can do in between meetings. Exercise is super helpful. I also have a standing desk, so I’m not just sitting the whole day editing.

I love music, so anytime I can go out and just hear some live music or go to a good concert, that’s always a good break from it all. Whether it’s a jazz bar or, I’m a big classic rock person, I like it all. I also love TV. I started in TV, so while movies are amazing and I do appreciate a good movie, there’s something about the storytelling of TV.

Work is a huge part of my life and I’m not upset about that. It brings me joy. At the place I am in my personal life, I have the space to give more to it. That might not always be the case, but it is right now.

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