While many think of filmmaking as what happens on set, those who work in the industry know that what happens before and after are equally as crucial. As Post-Production Supervisor at Sandwich Video, it’s the “after” that occupies the majority of Zach Hobesh’s time. Managing a team of skilled compositors, editors, and motion-graphics artists, Hobesh takes the footage from Sandwich’s popular commercial-spot shoots and helps turn it into the final videos that gain acclaim and help brands launch their products.
“I love commercials, because I feel like I get to work with the most talented people, the most creative people, and on such a variety of different projects that I’m never bored, and I’m never sick of a project because they go by so quickly,” Hobesh explains regarding his work at Sandwich. Read on for a look behind the scenes at his process, as well as his tips on how to make great post-production as painless as possible.
Some of the Sandwich Video team, including Zach (third from right).
“We try to start immediately after the shoot,” says Zach. “With any project, whether it’s a studio film or a network TV show, even if they have the biggest budget, if you ask anybody who works on those kind of things, they’ll still say there’s not enough money, not enough time. So I feel like a big part of my job — and I take a lot of pride in this — is trying to find creative solutions around lack of time, or lack of money. Everything that we do workflow-wise is designed to maximize efficiency without sacrificing the time required to think about how we’re going to make the video the best it can be.”
Getting started quickly enables Zach and his team to stay nimble and make sure nothing slows the project down. “After the project shoots, we typically bring in somebody to prep the project files overnight,” he explains. “That way, somebody else can jump in the next morning and start editing. The first step is just to get that rough assembly of an edit based off the script. Then, typically, we’ll show it to the director, we’ll get their notes, and we’ll revise the edit.”
Following that, the next step is to bring the edit to the client. “At that point, we’re either going to make revisions or move on to visual effects, graphics, color, and starting to think about music, where we’re going to source that final music, and all of the other elements that are going to come into play. What else are we going to need for this video besides the raw material that was shot on set?”
Hobesh was the Post Supervisor on this ad for TripCase from Sandwich Video.
This is where the “supervisor” part of Zach’s role becomes most crucial. “A lot of that is just going through your rough edit and saying, ‘What element do we need for this? Where are we going to get that? Who’s going to put this together?’ That’s assigning resources, that’s assigning staff, that’s assigning freelancers to work on something. It’s trying to figure out, ‘If we’re going to need a stock element for this, who’s going to find that stock element and how much is it going to cost?’ so that we can account for it in our budget.”
As for whether there’s a secret formula to how he gets things done, the answer is yes and no. “The first rule I feel like I learned, just as a producer, was that every single project is different,” says Zach. “It sounds a little cliché, but it really is true, in that you have to design a workflow for almost every single project independently. If you can find things that you can implement in every project workflow-wise, they’re going to make your process more efficient, happen quicker. That’s great. But you still have to tweak those processes for every project so that they fit that specific workflow.”
It also helps if post-production can be involved from the beginning of the process, rather than embracing a “fix it in post” mentality. By reviewing projects in the beginning, Zach and his team are able to save time by predicting what they’ll need. “For example, if we know you’re going to need all of these stock elements, like if there’s a section in the script that talks about a Revolutionary War sequence, we’re not going to go shoot that; we’re going to find that in stock. That’s something that we can definitely allocate a couple of days before the shoot and go try and find those elements. In some cases, that work will also inform what the director thinks about doing on set, or it might inform the last revision of the script before the shoot.”
The Sandwich Video ad for Notarize! features media Zach’s team sourced from Pond5.
“In that sense, it is really beneficial to all of the other departments that are working around post-production for us to get started a little bit earlier before the shoot,” Zach explains. “We don’t do it on every project, so it’s not something that we anticipate doing every time, but the first time that I see a script, I start to think, ‘How am I going to accomplish this with the budget I have, and the time I have?’ and, ‘What are the things that I can start before the shoot?'”
It also helps that Hobesh worked in VFX, among other roles, before joining Sandwich. “People who come from a VFX background can look at a video or a spot and say, ‘Oh, I know what’s possible. I know what we can do to make this better,'” he says. “I think if you don’t come from that kind of background, you don’t always assume that you can fix something; but having seen it happen, I know what’s fixable and what isn’t. We can take a look at something and say, ‘Hey, this little fix would make this better, and it’s going to take our artists an hour, so let’s do it.’ Or, ‘Hm, that fix is really hard. It’s going to take five days. I don’t know if we have the time, so let’s find another solution.’
Finally, we ask Zach what he would say to someone who had to step in and fill his shoes tomorrow, diving straight in to the post-production melee. “I think the advice that I would give to somebody who was stepping into my job, or stepping into any producing job is, never say, ‘Absolutely not,'” he replies. “Instead, say, ‘I don’t know. Let me find out.’ There’s always a creative solution to time problems, or money problems. There’s a way to achieve a better video I think, 100 percent of the time. That attitude of trying to find a way to solve a problem, and trying to find the fastest, most efficient way to solve that problem, is always going to benefit you.”
Check out more projects Zach has worked on for companies including Amazon, Salesforce, and Starbucks over at Sandwich Video.
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