Monday, June 20, 2011

Worst Graphics Session Ever


After almost twenty years as a video writer/producer, most of that time spent in dark rooms working with an editor or a graphics operator, there are bound to be a few projects that didn’t go as well as I would have wanted them to.

The worst graphics session I can remember (there are probably sessions even more heinous this one, but my mind has mercifully erased them from my memory) took place at one of the most expensive video post production companies in town. I hired the company’s design group to do promo graphics.

At first, they treated me like royalty. I had my own project coordinator who had me come to their offices to meet with their design team. I attended two meetings where I discussed the project with two designers, a graphics operator, the project coordinator, and the head of the design group. There were a couple of other people in the room, but I can’t remember who or why they were there. Maybe they were called in to help fill up the room.

The designers came up with some brilliant ideas and we all agreed on the direction to take. There was lots of creative energy. I was told more than once about how excited everyone was to work on my project. After the second meeting, the project coordinator showed me the session room where my graphics would be created. The room was the home for the latest hot shot graphics machine. It was a big room with a long desk and comfy couch for the client.

“When you come in on Monday,” the project coordinator said, “we’ll have already started on your job. This is going to be the best graphics session you’ve ever had. You have absolutely nothing to worry about.”

This was on a Thursday. I spent the weekend feeling like this project was one less thing I had to worry about.

When I arrived on Monday, I signed in at the front desk and went to the big session room where my project was supposed to have already started. When I entered the room, I was confronted by someone I had never seen before. He wasn’t the graphics operator who had been to my meetings. He scowled at me and this is what he said verbatim:

“What the fuck are you doing in here?”

I explained that I had a session in this room today. And this is how he responded. Verbatim:

“No you don’t. I’m working in this room today. Get the fuck out of here, asshole. This is my room.”

I should add that he yelled his responses. Now, I have worked for a video post production company. If I had spoken to any client, whether they were my client or not, in the same manner that this dipshit had spoken to me, I would have been fired immediately. Even after I complained about his behavior, nothing was done about this guy. Hell, he probably got a fucking raise.

I went and asked the front desk receptionist where my session was since it apparently wasn’t in the room I was told it would be in. The receptionist looked at the schedule and said she didn’t see me listed as having a session with their company today, but if I wanted to I could ask the head of the design group to check the weekly schedule. So I asked the receptionist to get me the head of the design group.

“I don’t know where she is right now,” the receptionist said. “I’m sure she’s around somewhere. Would you like to wait? She’ll probably come by sometime today.”

I didn’t care to wait. I stalked the halls until I found the head of the design group sitting in her office. Apparently her office was the last place the receptionist expected her to be. I told her about my bad experience with the rude operator and the fact that I wasn’t listed on the schedule and where the hell was the session I was paying for that day.

Needless to say, the head of the design group was furious. How dare I come to her with my problems! With a big disgusted sigh, she reluctantly went and checked the weekly schedule. She said it had been moved to another room and gave me a room number. I told her I had no idea where she was talking about, could she show me where this room was? With another disgusted sigh, she got up and led me down a hallway I’d never noticed before and ushered me into a small room. She said my session was in there and left without another word.

I should note here that I have come across this woman since that day and she still hates me for making her tell me where my session was and for having the unmitigated gall to suggest she chastise the rude operator who told me to “get the fuck out” of his room. This despite the fact that she no longer works for that post production company.

So I finally found my session. It was a smaller room that the room I thought I’d be in, but it wasn’t a broom closet either. There was no long desk or comfy couch, just one end of the table holding the graphics machine and an office chair. The graphics machine was not one I had ever heard of before. The graphics operator was not the one who had attended my creative meetings. I had never seen him before and had no idea who he was.

He was a nice guy. A bit goofy. He gave me a big smile and this is what he said. Verbatim.

“So, what are we working on today?”

“They didn’t tell you what this session was for?” I asked.

“Nope.”

“So you have no idea what we’re working on?”

“Hmmm,” he looked at the work order. “I think the name of the project is somewhere on here.” He put the work order down. “Might be easier if you just explained it to me.”

It dawned on me that all those meetings were nothing but show. The designers had done nothing. I was the victim a bait and switch scam. You really don’t expect this kind of crap from a reputable video post production company, but I am sorry to say it’s not as uncommon as it should be.

Well, the post production company had me by the short and curlies. I had to get the project done. I couldn’t afford to pull out at that time and find another company. Too much time had passed. My deadline was looming and I was already paying for this time.

I started to explain to the graphics operator what the project was about when he interrupted me.

“Just so you know,” he said. “I’ve never used this machine before so I might be a little slow.”

That sentence contained the first truthful words I heard from that video post production company.

Once he got started making what would be truly crappy graphics that were barely approved by my angry boss, I called the project coordinator to ask why my session had been changed and what the hell happened with the designers I’d met in the meeting. The project coordinator said they had to change the schedule because of an unexpected conflict that pulled the room and the designers to another project. I knew that was code for the company got a cooler job that paid more so I was bumped to crap status. It didn’t matter that I had already paid good money for what they had promised.

And that my friends was the worst graphics session I ever had the misfortune to endure.

(photo from Shutterstock)

5 comments:

jessica handler said...

I know who it waaaaas. (sing to the nyah nyah sound.) And remember that you're the man who brought me a change of shoes when I called you after a 12 hour day in my glamorous post production job - because my feet were bleeding and I needed another pair of shoes to get me through my next shift! Ah, teevee. It's not like the Dick Van Dyke show made it out to be.

Mickey Dubrow said...

I remember that no good terrible day. You passed out for a moment too. Way more trouble than the job was worth. So glad you moved on.

unsweetened said...

Talk about rotten, peaches! Unfortunately, this story is all too believable (says someone with a thimble-full of TV experience). Just shared your story with an editor friend: @djbtv on Twitter. You might also enjoy The Cranky Cutter Facebook page.

Mickey Dubrow said...

Vene, I love your new blog. I will definitely check out the cranky cutter- Lord knows I've worked with a few of them.

Chris Knox said...

That is painful. Wow. So sorry. Wow.