Preparing future editors

Jackson Bell

About a decade ago, Mike Flanagan was running his own printing

company when he first discovered the power of video as a means of

communication. He then realized he was in the wrong business.


“I saw video being the next frontier of communication,” he said.

“Sometimes, it’s even better than face-to-face interaction.”

It was 1994, and Flanagan noticed that the entertainment industry

needed well-trained editors because video wasn’t as accessible then


as it is today. So he founded Video Symphony, a TV, film and video

training center based in Burbank.

The center’s mission, he said, is to provide the best training and

student placement in entertainment and media post-production jobs.

The center trains between 800 and 1,000 students annually on the

five essential areas of postproduction: video editing; audio editing;

DVD authoring and design; 3-D animation; and visual effects. Two of

the most well-known editing programs it teaches are Avid and Final


Cut Pro.

What Flanagan enjoys the most about his job is watching his

students progress.

“I’m always intrigued by how people learn, and especially by how

quickly they can learn something,” he said.

To expand its enrollment, the center was recently permitted by the

Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services to grant visas so

foreign students can take courses. Flanagan said he has already


received numerous requests from prospective students in Asia and

Africa, but said Video Symphony won’t see a huge influx from those

continents until next year.

Courses, which range in price from $300 for a one-day seminar to

$20,000 for a 14-month semester, are taught by industry

professionals. Students include working editors seeking to brush up

on technological advancements in the field to novices seeking a new


David Billingsley, a 48-year-old student of the Avid editing

program, is an amateur animator who enrolled at Video Symphony to

learn the ins and outs of editing. What he likes most about the

program is the direct technical training.

“Having spent the better part of a year checking out all the

available schools in the United States, I came to the conclusion that

[Video Symphony] is the one I could seriously invest my time and

money in because it removes the theory and gives training from the

front line,” he said. “The instructors are extremely enthusiastic and

love to teach, which is remarkable because they are training their

future competition.”