Steven Fastook is Senior Vice President of Technical and Commercial Operations at CNBC responsible for the worldwide operations of the network. In this role he has advanced the use of tapeless technology and created the first-ever totally digital process at CNBC. Steven Fastook has also worked as an editor and can therefore fully appreciate how critical the right editing tools are to a successful workflow. Grass Valley's Trevor Francis had the opportunity to speak to Steven Fastook about his experience of CNBC working with EDIUS.
CNBC produces a huge amount of high-quality content. Can you give us some idea of the scale of it? How much do you produce in a day?
We produce 15 hours of original live content every day. That includes our 7 p.m. show - the news with Shepard Smith, so 15 hours of live original content every day. I have about 50 people on my edit team here in the US and about 20 or 30 more globally. And just for context, for the news show at 7 pm we are producing between 50 and 60 elements for a single hour.
That is all very impressive! How much has the covid pandemic made a difference to editing?
Some has increased and some has decreased but everything changed big time. So, the need for content increased dramatically in daytime. What I call daytime, that is our business news coverage. When the pandemic hit, at the same time our markets moved dramatically and when markets move dramatically that is when we spring into action. So, our systems throttled up big time for the covid situation. And at the same time about two-thirds of our editing team were working from home and only a third of them here on the property.
CNBC is a long-term customer of Grass Valley and strong user of EDIUS. What do your people most value about it?
I kind of came out of the editing ranks so I am very dear to this. I like its layout; I like the way the tracks are handled. It is very intuitive; it is very clean. I think that is the best word I can use. Obviously, we talk about speed. Speed is a big deal for us. Our editors like the fact that we can be working on things. We have some shows that we time shift. We are still cutting while the show is on the air. Speed and volume of movement is really important to us.
Imagine you are in an elevator for 20 or 30 seconds together with other broadcast experts not knowing about EDIUS. How would you sell EDIUS to them?
Well, I like what the claim says, and I have a little sticker. I think it is still on one of my monitors. It says, "edit anything" and I really think your single greatest asset is the fact, that anything that comes around can be instantly played and edited on the timeline without transcoding. No one lives in a vacuum; everyone has multiple formats. It is a fact of life. And the fact that we can bring things in and send them out the way we want them and conform them to our program is probably the biggest feature.
How would you characterize the synergies between EDIUS and STRATUS?
We run hundreds of people through our systems. Hundreds of editorial people go through our systems, and they live in STRATUS too. Producers can make editorial decisions about content at their desk or at home during the pandemic. Content can be put together in a rough cut, the editor can pick up the rough cut and do what they do best. This makes our editing highly efficient because we are not waiting, we are not screening. Instead, we are making beautiful pictures.
It is frequently said these days that editing has become totally commoditized, that an NLE is just an NLE in the same way that a keyboard is a keyboard, and I can type a novel on a mac or a pc or a tablet. So, what difference does EDIUS make?
I always say, it is what you are buying and who you are buying it from. Yes, I see a lot of them come out now. There are more platforms out there than I have ever seen before in my life. Grass Valley has done right by me for many years. So, it is not only what I am buying but it is who I am buying it from. And it is not only the solution by itself. It is also the expert knowledge in sales as well as product development, support, and system integration.
Thank you very much for your great insights!