Nexus Productions was a small editing facility that opened circa 1977. It was historically important and yet I see next to nothing about it on the web. In my own small way I’d like to fill that gap a little with this blog entry.
I started free-lancing there as a CMX editor in 1981. (CMX was the brand name for the industry standard computer editing system that dominated the late 70’s and 80’s.) It may seem extraordinary now but entrusting a high-end editing room to a free-lancer then was unheard of. Alfred (Al) Muller gave me my big break at a freelance editor. I’ll return to the novelty of freelance editing a little later.
As I understand it, principals Al Muller and Girish Bhargava were staff editors at Editel. (Editel was effectively a ‘finishing school for NY’s top editor who went off to start their own facilities.) Editel was considered the biggest and possible the best video facility in New York City in the 70’s & 80’s. Sadly for me it was about the only facility I did not freelance at (during the 1980s).
Girish was a very popular creative *editor* – a ‘cutter’ not a button-pusher. This when film editors often looked down their noses at video editors as just that. Girish had a following especially with WNET performing arts producers.
At some point in the 70s computer off-line editing evolved using the same CMX computer used in the big on-line rooms with the hi-fidelity 2″ or 1″ tape machines. The off-line room would use u-Matic aka 3/4 machines with lower-rez vizcode copies of the original tapes. Off-line rooms were common in LA (the long-from capital) but much less so in NYC. I believe Al & Girish built a business based on Girish, doing the off-line cut and Al ‘conforming’ it in a 1″ on-line room.
Doing an off-line edit was all about keeping a record or a ‘list’ aka EDL (edit decision list). Nexus was one of the few places in NYC experienced with specialized list management software (including ‘trace software).
Between just having one on-line room and the homey, unintimidating vibe, Nexus was considered a ’boutique.’ You have to remember that most facilities then looked like the interiors of submarine and were rarely located in regular office buildings for a variety of reasons.
Inter-format editing was a step on the way to YouTube, ie. video as a commonplace. The first phase of that process was the porta-pak and the TBC. Together they resulted in the possibility of inexpensively shooting video for broadcast. The next phase came with U-matic decks that could be controlled via time-code that allowed editing directly from the camera-originals to a hi-fidelity format like 1″. The inter-format room above was a fine example, though the heavy-duty U-matic decks are just out of view. In the hands of a pro, few would ever know a inexpensive small format was used. This was another important step in the ‘democratization of television’ or the the video version of “freedom of the press for those who can afford the printing press.”
Finally there is the community dimension or maybe I should say “market niche.” Though Nexus had many regular mainstream clients, its signature was a stable of PBS, cultural and indie producers… this would include video-artists. This ad is a wonderful snapshot of that time and place.
I list here some names I recognized that pop-out for me. It reflects the mix of categories described above. Merrill Brockway, Andy Warhol, Hal Tulchin, Jack Morton, Elizabeth Swados, Jeff Schon, Bill Viola, Marlen Hecht, Bill Boggs, Ken Lorber, John Godfrey, Chuck Liotta, Charles Libin, Don Monroe, Juan Downey, Mike Smith, Emile Ardolino, Steve Lawrence, Jay Dubin, Meredith Monk.
I ran into Al Muller at ABC where he was working shortly before he died. I’ll end here with a link to his obit.