Worldwide editor-in-chief Chris Angelini interviews Jacob Rosenberg, CTO of Bandito Brothers, the media company responsible for "Act of Valor." They talk about the marriage of technology and film-making, overcoming bottlenecks, and the future of Bandito.
A couple of months back, I had the opportunity to chat with Jacob Rosenberg, CTO of Bandito Brothers. As you may know, Bandito Brothers is the studio responsible for Act of Valor, the action film released earlier this year featuring active-duty Navy SEALs. In the making of Act of Valor, a lot of familiar technology was used: graphics cards from Nvidia, software from Adobe, workstations from HP, and cameras from Canon. So, I wanted to talk to Jacob about some of what it took to create such a popular film using some of the same products we discuss on Tom's Hardware.
At the same time, we explored how the two worlds of technology and film come together, how the former will benefit the latter moving forward, specifics on how Bandito Brothers approached Act of Valor, and what the studio has planned for the future.
Naturally, things got really busy around the lab right around that same time, and I wasn't able to get our chat transcribed prior to SXSW. However, Jacob's insights are still valuable today.
Chris Angelini: Thanks for taking the time to chat, Jacob.
Jacob Rosenberg: No problem, we’ve definitely done a lot of stuff recently that we’re happy to talk about, so it’s good.
Angelini: So, can you describe your role as the CTO of Bandito Brothers? What does a typical day entail for you?
Rosenberg: When Scott (Waugh) and Mouse (Mike McCoy) started the company and asked me to be a part of it, what they really wanted was to fill in the blanks with the technical side of the company and running post-production. They had a pretty aggressive outlook on how they wanted to handle production, and based on the work we had done together on "Dust to Glory" and subsequent projects, they wanted to have an equally aggressive strategy for post, and I was the candidate and someone they had worked with and trusted to fulfill that role.
So, when we started Bandito Brothers, it just made logical sense that I would take the title of CTO and I would be responsible for running post production. In the early days of the company, I was hands-on with every project, every workflow, every piece of data. And as we’ve grown as a company, I still oversee and make sure that all of our workflows are made bulletproof, but I also spend a significant amount of time mentoring some of the younger people that we’ve hired to be a part of the company and start doing some of that post work. But a typical day for me can range from budgeting, talking about strategies for shooting something, working with our post-producer to talk about what projects are going on, and then the other hat that I wear is one of the director, and I have my own project that I’ve been working on at the same time.
We really see ourselves as a collective. So, while I do have the title, I do end up spending a lot of time dipping into other parts of the company. But traditionally, I’ll be in my office and walk over and see what’s going on with projects, go down to the edit bay and see what’s going on there, be on the phone with people like Shane Hurlbut, with Scotty, our sound guy, composer, that sort of thing, making sure everything is continuing to move forward. And I do spend a significant portion of my day dealing with our technology partners and evaluating new technology and processes we’re considering employing.
Angelini: It’s interesting to me that you mention the new people, the young talent. When you talk about that from a technical perspective, are those people that got their start on the technical side because they’re editing and doing school projects, or are these more film-oriented guys?
Rosenberg: No, it’s actually really interesting. Dan Restuccio, a great technology journalist from Post Magazine, runs the video and computer program up at Cal Lutheran, south of Santa Barbara. And my first intern was from Cal Lutheran. He was this really technically-adept guy named Mike McCarthy, and he became my director of technology for the company. He helps us out with new tools and he’s the ear-to-the-ground guy who understands the inner workings of technical things. Most of the people who work for me came from the Cal Lutheran pipeline. Most of these kids started off as interns and we just really expose them to a ton of stuff. And then when their internship is up, if they’ve done a good job, they get an opportunity to come on in a more full-time capacity.
I just find that culturally, you get these really motivated kids who have a decent education, who have a comfortable affinity to technology because they’ve grown up with it their entire life. And then you’re trying to impose the ways we think about post-production based on our roots in analog. So I find that there’s this wonderful mish-mash of these new, young kids who see things in the digital way, but you’re constantly keeping them on their toes by applying knowledge from the analog days, which is always incredibly relevant to problem solving almost anything, no matter how new the technology is.