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Profile: Hudson Hickman

Oct 7, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Title: Senior VP of production for television, MGM
Background: Mr. Hickman has been with MGM for eight years.
The evolution of digital dailies: “Part of [my] responsibility has to do with evaluating new technology and how it makes sense for us. There is tremendous pressure on production to find new methods to lower costs. Some of those include digital dailies, which we have done for over a year,” he said.
MGM uses Telestream’s ClipMail Pro technology to distribute dailies for Sci-Fi’s “Stargate SG-1” and Showtime’s “Jeremiah” from location in Vancouver back to the studio in Los Angeles. MGM also used the technology for two back-door pilot movies, “Carrie” for NBC and “Dead Like Me” for Showtime. “I think [digital dailies] are probably evolutionary,” Mr. Hickman said. “It’s a gradual change. I look forward to the day when we can collaborate in real time with editors and producers, wherever they are.”
Mr. Hickman had been eyeing Telestream’s technology for a few years but waited until the price for implementing it was lower than the previous method of shipping tapes on a plane. He estimates that using Telestream shaves 10 percent to 15 percent off the cost and adds the assurance that the dailies will always arrive. “Also factored into the cost savings is the convenience,” he said. “We can send any tape material anytime. An editor can send material using Telestream. We can send casting tapes to producers in Vancouver to approve.”
The truth about high def: “I’m not convinced shooting in HD is the great savings we hoped it would be,” he said. “Even though you save on film stock, processing, telecine, the equipment is more expensive to rent and you have to record the sound separately and sync up the picture.”
MGM shot “Carrie” in HD and Mr. Hickman expects when final costs are added up, the difference between the two methods will be close to a wash. “I don’t think there will be a tremendous cost savings,” he said.
Eye on the future: Mr. Hickman expects MGM’s next large technology purchase will be a server tower for storage instead of relying on individual editing machines. Shared network storage allows more flexibility, since multiple editors can access the same material at the same time.