Smoke adds cachet to McCann New York

Posted by Marc-Andre Ferguson, 20 November 2011 7:00 pm



With over twenty-five years of experience in television and advertisement, you would think that Philip Ohler has seen it all, but he will be the first one to remind you that constant learning means survival in this business. As manager of Post-Production at New York's McCann office, technical skills are equally important as administrative ones.

Roundtrip ticket to Hollywood

Originally from New York, Philip moved to Los Angeles early in his career, drawn to where "TV was getting made". One of his first production jobs there was as writer/producer for FOX. Philip started editing in the early 90's, when a 3/4" VTR was the norm. The appearance of Avid Media Composer opened the door to Preditors (Producer | Editor), and in 1994, Philip took an Avid class and made focused on editing for the next several years.

After a management stint at Disney, Philip joined a small advertising agency, which had several Final Cut Pro suites. "It was the early days of FCP, with the old Pinnacle Cinewave card. I had to quickly become part geek, part troubleshooter". During those years, he wrote, produced and edited promos and sales presentations for clients such as Disney, Twentieth Television, Paramount, NBC, ABC, FOX, The WB, & UPN.

Truth Well Told*

Philip eventually found his way back to New York City, landing work at advertising giant McCann as producer, then editor, in a very competitive market. Looking for an edge, and in order to get out of regular editing, Philip pursued a career as a Smoke artist.

When Smoke on Mac OS X was released, Philip downloaded the trial and took the an FXPHD class. He realized that Smoke would be a great tool to have in-house, in order for his post-production department to capture more of the higher-end work.

A couple years ago, Philip was offered to run PostOp, McCann NY's post-production department. Pondering the pros and cons of administrating vs editing, he realized he had the opportunity to drive the business forward and accepted the offer.


Today, PostOp has eight suites, all built around Final Cut Studio and Adobe Creative Suite. One of these is also equipped with Smoke, operated by a group of talented freelance operators. "The Smoke suite has better furniture and a better monitor", adds Philip. "It has to look and feel different".

Owning a Smoke suite adds a lot of credibility to the operation, especially for clients who are used to high-end finishing suites. "It allows us to compete with the outside world. The trick was convincing our creatives that they can stay in-house for all of their post work, not just for the offline editing. My goal is to keep all our projects in-house, like a one-stop shop, and generate more revenue for the agency".

Holiday Inn Express

Some of the advertising clients that comes through the PostOp's doors: Avis, Staples, MasterCard, Holiday Inn and Sony Ericsson and Verizon. "We produce cross-channel spots that are only seen by Verizon FiOS clients. We shoot them in our own studio, edit in Final Cut and finish in Smoke".


Smoke's cachet

Before owning Smoke, recalls Philip, an ad would be edited and finished in FCP, with the colour timing often getting farmed out. "A colourist is a specialist. Clients often have the idea that if you're not a specialist, you're not the best". According to him, Smoke has that cachet that appeals to artists who also happen to be colourists. When finishing in Smoke, colour is never "locked down", so artists can combine their technical wizardry with their passion to achieve outstanding results, much to the client's delight.

MasterCard-Cardboard Box. Originally from 1999, reconformed to HD with new script and new titles.

Another facet of Smoke that is key in advertising is how quickly and easily images can be touched up. "A lot of the work we do in Smoke would have taken a long time in After Effects".

Although Philip manages the administrative aspects of the department, almost like an independent business, he still gets to do some of the work when Smoke editors are not available. "I need to know how to operate the box. My Smoke skills are getting better, as I keep learning about it, but I have to teach these skills to others too".

The future looks bright at PostOp and Philip Ohler is looking forward to bringing more projects through it's doors. To find out more about PostOp's editing and finishing work for McCann New York, visit their Vimeo page.

*: Truth Weld Told, H.K. McCann's original credo, is McCann Erickson's philosophy.


Smoke for Mac



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