My Jakarta: Eman, Video Editor

It’s not that Eman hates sunlight, it’s just that he loves his job. He edits everything from television commercials to corporate instructional videos at Big Pictures Production in Senayan, where he can be found for hours on end cutting clips and dubbing voices to turn raw footage into captivating TV programs.
Today, Eman tells us his thoughts about local movies, describes life as an editor, and explains why he never misses a deadline.

How did you wind up becoming a video editor?

I know the owner of Big Pictures Production. I started working with him as a tape quality control guy, where my job was to make sure that the sound was perfect and the color was bright on every tape. From there, I learnt how to edit the films by watching, and finally I got this position.

How long have you been doing this work?

Since 2002. And I taught myself everything.

What do you edit?

Commercials, company profiles, music video clips, TV programs, reality shows, educational and travel programs.

How long does it take to edit a 30-minute video?

It all depends on the length of the original material and the difficulties encountered. A rough cut for a 30-minute video is normally complete within a day and the final cut in three days.

What do the industry terms ‘offline’ and ‘online’ mean?

In the film business, we know it as rough cut and final cut, but in the editing room it’s online and offline. Offline is the rough processing video; online is similar to the final cut.

How many rolls of film does it take to shoot a commercial?

For a 30-second commercial, there is usually about 18 minutes of material to work from.

How many hours do you spend in the studio a week?

I’m in the studio at all hours. I only pop home to Bogor twice a week, so I’m pretty much in the studio all the time and stay at my friend’s house when I’m not working.

Do your eyes hurt from editing videos all day?

No, my eyes are good. I don’t wear glasses. I think I’m just used to it.

What was the most recent commercial you worked on?

I edited a 30-second commercial for face powder and soap. It’s already on the air.

What’s your favorite locally produced TV commercial?

I always love the cigarette adverts because whenever they shoot a commercial, they set aside a big budget for it. That means the location and the concept will be unique and, of course, they are using the best effects around.

Would you consider editing a film for the big screen one day?

Yes, of course. That would be a new challenge and would take a lot more time and effort. But there’s no opportunity at the moment.

What’s your impression of locally produced films?

I think that in general they’re getting better, but the story lines are still weak. Too many love stories and too melodramatic.

Have you ever thought about doing some acting yourself?

No, I would much rather work behind the scenes during the production phase.

Do you have any hobbies outside of work?

I spend most of my time inside this editing room, so I don’t have much in the way of hobbies. Just work, work and work. And on my days off, I just rest and sleep all day.

Do you like watching horror flicks?

I prefer watching horror films from abroad compared to the Indonesian ones. The horror movies coming out of Thailand and Japan are much scarier than anything Indonesian directors are making at the moment.

Do you feel that you see more of the world on a TV screen than you do in real life?

Definitely. I see the world through browsing the Internet and in the films that I edit.

Do you get enough sunlight?

Not much at all. I haven’t seen the sun for days [laughs]. Even on my day off, I slept and missed the whole day.

What’s been the longest project you’ve worked on?

This job that I am currently working on has been running for four months and is still going. It’s an instructional video for Indomaret [supermarket chain]. We have to make it perfect because this video is going to be played for many years to come.

If there are cute girls in a scene, does it take more time to edit?

No, it’s the same [laughs]. Everything depends on the deadline.

Do you always meet your deadlines?

Yes, I do. I always meet the deadline because sometimes a film has to be aired a day or two later. The deadline and the time slots are already paid for, so we are responsible if we cannot get it done by the right date.

Do you prefer a Mac or PC for editing videos?

Both have their own strengths and weaknesses, and I can edit using either.

Do you really love Bali, like it says on your T-shirt?

I went to Bali once in 2005. I really enjoyed it, even though I was there to work on a shoot for a commercial. At that time, we were working to a tight deadline so we had to edit it on location.

Eman was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Eman, Video Editor

Picture by Iwan Putuhena