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Meet the finishing artist

The Finish Line's Zeb Chadfield talks about learning to edit by cutting tape to tape on video, and why he tries to approach every task as a beginner

Zeb Chadfield, finishing artist, and founder and CVO of The Finish Line
Talk us through an average day in your role:

I spend my time looking at things that will help us to deliver better looking pictures and taking care of our incredible team. I engage with clients in green-light and pre-production meetings to make sure media that will be making its way to us in post is shot well and what we receive is of the highest quality so we can spend our time making it better rather than fixing issues. I spend a lot of time designing and planning our internal systems and workflow updates to make sure we are reducing pain points and making inefficient workflows more efficient with the goal of avoiding having anyone working on boring and unchallenging tasks but also trying to make sure everyone can get out of work at a good time to invest energy in their life outside of work.

How did you get started in the media industry?

Cutting tape to tape on VHS and working to save and buy the tools I needed to learn how to do the job. I struck it lucky when the stunt coordinator working on a feature film in my home town heard of me and hired me to teach him editing so he could cut examples together for the director.

What training did you have before entering the industry?

All self-trained, pre-YouTube and online training so there were no resources beyond the manuals and I couldn’t read well and didn’t understand anything in the manuals because I didn’t know the terminology so it was “trial and error” or “break then figure out how to fix it.”

Why do you enjoy working in the industry?

After 25 years I still love it. The constantly moving technology and delivery requirements mean it’s always interesting and keeps us on our toes. Trying to approach everything as a beginner every day so I’m challenged to rethink my opinions is also great. Every update to every tool gives us more room to play or more ways to increase the quality of what we deliver.

What piece of advice would you offer someone looking to explore a role similar to yours?

Start as early as you can and find as many people as you can to listen to and learn from. Don’t wait for the right tool or the right training to do what you want to do. With a free bit of software and a half decent phone or computer you can do anything you want these days so there are no excuses and no reason to go into debt to get going. Commit to at least an hour practice a day and get going, that practice adds up fast.