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Innovation, Safety, and Social Media with Martin Torner of Matthews Studio Equipment

Daniel Jester
Chief evangelist at Creative Force

Full episode transcript

Daniel Jester:

From creative force, I'm Daniel Jester, and this is the eCommerce Content Creation podcast.


Ed Phillips:

Hi, I'm Ed Phillips and this is the new roundy round dolly by Matthew's Studio Equipment.


Daniel Jester:

If you're like me having grown up in commercial photo studios, you may not have spent a lot of time interrogating the history of your grip equipment. But for Martin Torner who spent close to 20 years as a grip working on film and television productions before joining Matthew Studio Equipment, it's all about the history of innovation and serving a tight knit industry who values efficiency and safety. Martin joins me for this episode to talk about how it all started for Matthews, what it means to be a pioneer and an innovator in your industry, and how social media and supporting smaller scale creators plays into it for this legendary equipment manufacturer.


Martin Torner:

Everything used to be a secret. And guess what? The secret's out. You can buy a camera and you can go out there and you can now... The accessibility has made it amazing. And because of that, we want to give people the confidence to be able to use our gear and go create. You don't need to be a salty dog or the seasoned pro.


Daniel Jester:

By the way that audio you heard up top is from a video that Martin references later on in the podcast. Matthews has been using video to showcase what its products can do since probably before it was cool. I'm excited about this episode, so let's dig in. This is the eCommerce Content Creation podcast. I'm your host, Daniel Jester, and joining me for this episode of Matthew's Studio Equipment, Martin Torner. Martin, welcome to the podcast.


Martin Torner:

Thank you so much for having me. Love to have you reach out and really excited to be part of this.


Daniel Jester:

I'm going to tell you and our listeners the exact story of how this came about. I was reflecting on the fact that we recorded with somebody from ProPhoto and thinking about what a big deal that was to me personally to have had access to a VP at ProPhoto and that he agreed to come on the podcast, and we had a really good conversation, and just kind of got me thinking of what other legacy studio companies might agree to come on the podcast. And at the same time, I'm kicking around this idea, this photographer that I follow out of San Francisco, he's a tabletop still life guy like me. Shoots a lot of product. His name's Dan Simmons. Posted a story on Instagram of some new, smaller scale stands that he's been using in his studio. And this is a thing that us table top guys always struggle with is having enough stands that are small enough to get the light exactly where you need it. Sometimes you're working on a big table with a small product. You need a short four inch stand to get your light exactly where you want it. It needs to sit on the tabletop. That kind of thing. Anyway, he tags Matthews in it, and I'm like, oh, Matthews has an Instagram account. I was unaware of this. I'm going to go pop over and see. To my surprise, Martin, there's your face all over.


Martin Torner:

Yes, sir.


Daniel Jester:

With tons of excellent content. Something close to 70,000 followers. Tons of people engaged in what's going on. You've got a mix of videos of you sharing everything from best practices on tape usage to how to set up a C stand. There's no topic is off limits on the Matthews Instagram page. I was so impressed by your social media presence. I messaged you out of the blue and here we are.


Martin Torner:

I'm super happy that that whole deal worked out the way it did, because first of all, listening to this ProPhoto episode give you street credit right away. I'm like, oh, okay.


Daniel Jester:

Oh, yeah. I sent that one to you on purpose. I was like, this will work for them.


Martin Torner:

No, definitely. But I was very pleasantly surprised of your content and the sophistication of your podcast. We work with people from within the industry and you are definitely from within the industry. And we have our own lingo and our own jargon and the way we speak. But it's also super important to make it accessible to people outside of the industry who are interested in what we do. And that's a lot of our stance in our position in our social media and with all of the content that we create. We want to do it with the language that we are all familiar with, but we also don't want to alienate anybody and make them feel like this is for us by us and you're not invited. It's like, no. Welcome to creativity. Welcome to the tools that are going to raise the bar and up your game. And that's really where we come from. We've been around for a long time, but we also want to be able to change with the times and to move forward and work with all these pioneers that are shooting out in every direction of creation. So, thank you so much for reaching out. Think this is a great outlet for people to get great information.


Daniel Jester:

Extremely well said, Martin. And one of the things that you touched on I think is super cool, and it was a theme that came up with ProPhoto as well, that ProPhoto made a decision to move into mobile photography as mobile phone cameras have gotten great. They deserve great light too. Independent creators who primarily work on their phone deserve great light. And that's been evident. On the Matthews website right now, there's an entire section dedicated to collections of equipment that might be of interest to individual content creators. And the thing is that I learned from spending a lot of time on the Matthews website leading up to this conversation with you is even in my section of the industry and creative production for eCommerce, I only have interacted with a very small percentage of Matthew's products.


Daniel Jester:

Because obviously you guys are in Burbank. Film and production is huge. The equipment needs there are very sophisticated and very big. But let's take a step back. Let's have you give us and our listeners, because I'm going to be honest with you, Martin, anybody who's ever worked in any kind of a studio or anywhere near a camera has touched a piece of Matthew's equipment at some point. Whether or not they interrogated the company and learned about the company may not be true. So I think our listeners might be interested to hear about the history of Matthews from you and we can go from there.


Martin Torner:

We're super proud of our history. We've been around for over 54 years now. 53, 54 years. We were about to actually celebrate our big 50th and then we got hit with a global pandemic, which will kind of pump the brakes on that.


Daniel Jester:

Yeah, that'll really ruin a party.


Martin Torner:

It really will. We had an amazing party planned, honestly. We had the food, everything was ready to go. Anyhow, beyond that, 50 years ago, our main man, Ed Phillips, who has since passed away a couple years ago, he was the heart, the soul, the force behind Matthews. Ed Phillips, amazing guy. I now work with his son, Tyler Phillips, who is now our president and he's now at the helm of the ship. But Ed Phillips was working as an electrician on the studio lots back in 1966 and pulling cable up the side of the Universal Hill as you drive in and always looking down and seeing all these fancy cars drive in and he would say, one day I'm going to be driving one of those fancy cars. Pulling all this cable all over the place. He started to think about innovation. What was going to be his way to contribute to the community and to truly be an innovative force in filmmaking? And since studios was his life, he was at Paramount, at Universal, at MGM, at Warners, that he was working through the entire system. And at that time, all of these big studios, their docks, their grip dock and their electric dock, they made their own gear. They didn't rely on third party manufacturers. So everyone's gear was kind of specific to their lot. And that was something that it just was the way it was.


Daniel Jester:

It would make it really hard, it would seem, for a super talented grip from one studio to be able to go work at another studio and suddenly find themselves unfamiliar with the equipment and the gear that somebody else had developed.


Martin Torner:

But at this point in time, a lot of them were closed systems. You had your cinematographers that were MGM shooters, and you had the grips of Warner, the grips of MGM, and you were part of that team. There was a lot less hopping around. They weren't subleasing gear from each other. They were closed systems and they had their formula. And I'll tell you what, back then, it was a lot more hush hush. The way you exposed your film and the way you got the Warner look or the MGM look or the Universal look was because you had your tools, you had your team. It was a lot more of a closed system on each of these lots. And Roy Isaiah, who was a gentleman who worked in the canvas room with textiles, he started to see an opportunity to outsource. To say, okay, if you guys over at Paramount are just way too slammed, let me start sewing textiles for you.


Martin Torner:

So Roy Isaiah in his mother's garage started sewing textiles. And he was one of the first people that was getting outsource work from the studios. And that was in around 1968. And he started a company named Matthews named after his son who had just been born, and that was around '68. And Ed Phillips, friends with Roy Isaiah, came in on the hardware side. So Roy Isaiah was making textiles and Ed Phillips showed up and he's like, all right, listen, all of the studios want to go on location. They want to make their gear more portable. They want to be able to take all these big welded, heavy stands and equipment and they want to put them on trucks and they want to go out to the beach and they want to go over here and they want to go over there and make it a lot more possible to do it logistically. So they started to come up with hardware that would be able to allow this. Stands that legs they weren't just fixed and welded. They would actually fold.


Martin Torner:

So Matthews came up with the first folding leg C stand. So you could actually fold these things, get them in a truck. They would get overhead frames that were 12 by 12 feet, 20 by 20 feet. Then instead of just being a welded big frame, they would actually break apart and store in a truck so you could get it to a location. That was a big part of Matthews. It was trying to take the production on the road. What Ed Phillips had been working on as well was a company he started called WayCon? All in all, they were doing smaller arc lights. These arc lights that they used back then weighed 250 pounds.


Martin Torner:

They looked like train engines. They had big chimneys coming out of the top and they shoot smoke out of them. And WayneCo was trying to get lightweight arc lights so that you could actually take productions on the road. So that's kind of where the idea for Matthews in the direction it was headed came from. It was trying to take the show on the road. And that was in the early '70s. Ed Phillips purchased the company, Matthews Studio Equipment, from Roy Isaiah in 1974. And from there moving forward, he did everything he could to find innovations within the industry. He didn't just sit in his workshop thinking, how can we make something better? He talked to everybody in the industry. All his friends were the key grips and the gaffers and the cinematographers who were making the show. So he would approach them and say, what would be better? They'd say, oh, this big dolly track, we just can't get it on this truck.


Martin Torner:

Well, let's make it scissor closed. And then you can get it on a truck. How about we have these stands for the electricians, and we have the stands for the grips, and everyone has their own stuff. So they came up with something called the combo stand. It's a combination stand that takes inch and an eighth receiver and a baby pin, and they put them on the same stand. This was revolutionary back then. The grips had their stands, the electricians had their stands. And it was even a little bit controversial. When he said you're trying to unify these two departments by making gear that suits both of their needs, it was kind of crazy. It was kind of revolutionary at the time. Now you think about it as just like, oh, of course there's combo stands. But back then, as I was saying, everything was really specific. Not only to each studio, but to each department within each studio.


Martin Torner:

So, that was a big push forward in Matthews' progress in the industry was by coming up with these innovations that were going to be more efficient. Now you don't have to buy 20 stands for the electricians and 20 stands for the grips. You can maybe buy 30 and they can all use the same stands. And you can take stands from one grip dock and use it in another grip dock, because at that time Matthew's also got into the standardization of measurements. They said, how about instead of everybody using different measurements, we use inch and an eighth and five eighths. Those two measurements, for a lot of people that are listening don't know what we're talking about, it's what you find on every light, on every grip modifier, all of them fall into these two categories. If something's bigger than around 22 pounds, it's going to go into a larger inch and an eighth pin to mount it. If it's smaller, you're going to use a baby pin, which is a five eighths pin. And Matthews was essential in making that the standard measurements across the industry.


Daniel Jester:

That's a really great example of the differences from more I think the film production side and my side of it, which is like a still studio. I'm going to tell you, Martin, I never knew why it was called a baby pin because everything that I use in a studio that I work in exclusively uses the baby pin. All of my lights, all of my modifiers, they're small, they're not big and heavy. And you can really see on the Matthews website, you can really see by perusing all of the different products, the levels of innovation. I'll give you an example of what I'm talking about. In some cases you can almost hear the conversation of we have to put a light in this spot. What's the best tool to do it. And some person runs out to their truck and they have in there a putty knife and they take the putty knife and they stuck it in the doorframe and like rigged a light to it.


Daniel Jester:

Matthews today, right now, on their website, sells a putty knife with a baby pin stud on it that you can attach a light to. No reason to even make it not look like a putty knife. It's just those are the kinds of things. It's going out there, it's talking to... I'm not going to sit here and I'm not going to try to overengineer everything. You show me the solution that you came up with, Joe Grip. If we think that's something that we can use in the industry or somebody else might be able to use, we're going to turn it into a tool that you can buy, and it's going to be a great piece of your kit.


Martin Torner:

Definitely. And borrowing from many different industries is also what we do as filmmakers and photographers. We say, well, they use this shackle in sailing, or they use this knot or this type of rigging in another industry, why shouldn't we use it? We borrow so much of what we do. All of our textiles come from it's not called sail cloth for no reason. It's because it came from boats and sail. When you would stand on the other side of the sail and the sun would go through it and you're like, man, that looks so pretty on my friend here standing on this boat, that's what we're going to use to diffuse light. Driving down, when you're driving down the interstate and you have all the farms out there and they have all these bales of hay wrapped up in this white material, that's Grifflon.


Martin Torner:

When a key grip, Dicky Deets, was driving down the interstate, he saw the sun bouncing off of these bales of hay that were wrapped in this white cloth or fabric. He said, what is that? I need that. And I want to use it to bounce light on set. And that's where the Grifflon came from. So that came from farming. So we borrow things from many other industries. Why start from scratch when someone already figured it out? Even though a putty knife isn't used to do what we do with it.


Daniel Jester:

But still, this is one of the things that has always attracted me. I don't think I've shared this with you, Martin, but my background, in high school, at my age, they had already started phasing out some of vocational programs at a lot of public schools. So the high school that I went to did not have auto shop or wood shop or anything like that. But we had stagecraft. And stagecraft was basically wood shop. We had table saws and tools and I enjoyed working with my hands and building things. What I found is that the unique problem solving in production for theater was way more interesting to me than just building a birdhouse. It was way more interesting to say we have this really unique problem we have to solve because we're trying to put on this production.


Daniel Jester:

Photography is literally an extension of that. I was working on a shoot a couple of days ago and decided, you know what, this would be a lot easier if I got out my heat gun and I melted down some acrylic and just formed it into the shape that I needed to be than trying to rig something up. And I just was like, you know what, I'm going to spend half a day today building the tools that I need to get this job done. It's a really attractive and interesting and sort of creatively fulfilling part of the process.


Daniel Jester:

I want to pivot a little bit and talk quickly about Matthews' mission of safety. And this is a big one for me. I come from the world of in-house studios where safety is huge. You've got a bunch of people, most of them full-time employees or freelancers who are there all day. We want a safe working environment. Even in your average eCommerce studio, we're working around dangerous equipment. We have cameras flown in the air. We have power packs with capacitors with enough juice in them to really do some damage. And then when you scale that up to a film set, especially on location, it gets even bigger. So tell me a little bit, Martin, about Matthews' feelings on safety and the kinds of things you do to look out for the industry and make sure that safety mission is upfront.


Martin Torner:

It's everything. It really is. All we deal with is heavy duty gear that is mostly going to be rigged overhead. I'll tell you what, for 20 years I've been a grip. I've been a local 80 union grip for 18 years, and I had the ability to learn under a bunch of really amazing, really talented grips who every step of the way was safety, safety, safety. I wasn't allowed to touch a piece of equipment unless I was trained on it and knew what it was all about. And you always, before you walk away from something, you make sure that it's not going to be able to hurt anybody else accidentally. That isn't the case with everybody. You know what I mean? There's a lot of folks. Matthews used to only sell gear to people in the studios and they would put the gear into the hands of very competent craftspeople.


Martin Torner:

And now anybody can hop online, click a button, and equipment just shows up for you. And we really have to take that into account as a manufacturer and as an innovator that if this piece of equipment just shows up, all of our gear says for professional use only, and it comes down to liability, but it comes down to really knowing that our gear has the potential to really injure someone and we don't want that to happen. First of all, we don't put out a lot of amazing gear because we think, man, in the wrong hands, this could be really, really horrible. We have people come up to us all the time, we work with a ton of really amazing creators and innovators, and they come to our doorstep and they say, check out this piece of gear. And we're like, oh my gosh, that is amazing. But there is no way we can put this out into the public because the potential for injury is too great. It's just too gnarly to put into anybody's hands.


Daniel Jester:

I think that's really admirable. I think it makes a lot of sense to me that there's a certain segment of Matthews equipment that sort of is in the back room. And if you want to use it, if you want us to sell it to you, we need assurances that you are with a responsible organization, that you're taking safety into account when you're using this. And we also kind of want to make sure that you're using it in the way that it is designed. A lot of crazy things happen on film sets, and oftentimes you're pushing your gear to the limits on what it's capable of. And that means, as evidenced by recent events in the film production industry, it's a dangerous job, and there's a lot of dangers. And anytime that we can get ahead of that with safety and with, to some extent, gate keeping some of the tools that aren't appropriate to put in amateurs' hands, I think that's really admirable.


Martin Torner:

It's something that we really take seriously because what we're putting out there is this amazing erector set. We've given you building blocks so that as a creative person you can build your solutions. You're never going to do it the same way twice. You're always going to say, hey, maybe if we put that one upside down and we connect it to the other thingamajig, and then we hang a lot of weight from there, that's what we're doing. So we need to make sure that every precaution has been taken on our end. We're talking about our social media presence and our content we put out there, a lot of that is truly to let people know the right way to use these things. And to give people some limitations. All day long, we get emails and all these questions about the capacity of a stand. How much weight can this thing take? What can I put on there? How far out can I cantilever this, whatever it is. First of all, I don't know. We might have made that grid clamp you're using 20 years ago. It might have sat underwater for six months for a rig on some show, then it could have gone back to the rental house, been used in two crash cams that was in flames, and now you have it. And I don't know if you should hang a refrigerator over your talent with that. You don't know [inaudible 00:22:40].


Daniel Jester:

Yeah. That brings up a great point though. I guess you'd have to find a line to draw somewhere, but to some extent it makes me wonder if it wouldn't be smart to have sort of a chain of custody kind of document with some of the bigger pieces of equipment. Just to be aware what production was this used on? How was it used? You make a great point. TV shows that are in production for months at a time might have some rigging that's been sitting out in the sun and is weakened by the elements in a lot of ways. It's not something I've given a lot of thought to because, again, my personal experience and the experience of a lot of our audience is more in a more controlled environment than on-location movie set, but really, really interesting to think about the idea of the chain of custody of important pieces of equipment where you can really find it in an potentially unsafe situation.


Daniel Jester:

You mentioned the content on Instagram, and I want to spend just a couple of minutes talking about that. What has that process been like for you with Matthews? And it seems like you've put a lot of work into building an audience. And I don't know why, Martin, it was unexpected to me to find this kind of vibrant sort of behind the scenes community in this way. And part of that, I guess, is because in my very specific niche of the industry, there isn't as much of a community around it. And obviously with your account appeals to seasoned and aspiring filmmakers and media people of all types. But what has the response been and how have you been feeling about it? I think the content is excellent. We talked about this before, I think there's a huge market for the stuff you're putting on Instagram, even on LinkedIn. I think people would really react to it. But tell me a little bit about that process and what it's been like building that audience.


Martin Torner:

The first thing I want to say is, come into this company, I came out of 18 years of being on set, working on feature films, working on television programs. And when I got here, I let Ed Phillips and Tyler Phillips know that everybody that I would be working with and getting this gear out to were going to be my peers. And there was nothing in this catalog that I wanted to promote if I didn't really believe in it. Because I'm not just slanging this to strangers out there. These are my people. When I started doing this when I was 20 years old, it's the only people I know, and I'm not going to have my friends end up saying that fool Martin is selling these [inaudible 00:25:00] or whatever.


Daniel Jester:

Garbage clamps.


Martin Torner:

Yeah. And I needed to trust, believe in the gear. And Ed Phillips said, hey, I'll tell you what, right now, if there's something in that catalog that you don't fully believe in, that's a problem and we need to fix it. And I was like, whoa. And I wrote down a list of gear that I didn't know if it was so relevant anymore. And in a week he said we're discontinuing some products everybody. I did not expect my words to have so much weight on the catalog. But that's where Ed Phillips came from, because he wanted to be relevant. He wanted to truly serve this community the best way he could. And that's where Matthews come from. And Matthews has character. It truly is a family run organization that cares about what we're doing. We're not just pooping out metal.


Martin Torner:

We're not just a company, a factory, that's just shooting out gear and being like, buy this knockoff, buy this knockoff. We're the innovators that are putting it out there, and I really want to get that across to people. I want to show people that not only do we care, but we know what we're doing. We know where we're coming from. And we're not perfect. We want to hear from you. We want feedback. And social media is you get too much feedback, but I'll tell you what, when you can filter it down, it can be such an amazing tool to be able to communicate with your community. And when we had this shut down, when COVID hit, I took everything in the showroom and I took it to my house, and I started thinking how can I still be productive?


Martin Torner:

Everybody's sitting around going crazy. The people who work in our industry that are used to doing 16 hour days with all their friends, rigging and making content and having a blast, are sitting there twiddling their thumbs going nuts. So we wanted to put some content out there that was going to be relevant, that was going to be entertaining, and not just step one, open clamp. Step two, close clamp. Want to make it fun. And I have a background in storytelling, I grew up in a theater company, and I really wanted to bring my passion for what I'm doing. I got the best job in the world, man.


Daniel Jester:

It shows, Martin. Some of those videos on Instagram and stuff. It's a lot of fun to watch them. You obviously are having a lot of fun. I love the story about coming on and saying like, I feel the same way. If I'm going to put myself individually out there on behalf of the company that I work for, I want to really believe in the tool or the tools in your case. And I think that's really interesting. But are you telling me that this Instagram account for this is just a product of COVID? This was your COVID project that you took on? I'm sure the Instagram account maybe existed previously, but a lot of the work you're doing has just been since 2020?


Martin Torner:

We had videos. Ed Phillips was all about having fun. If you look back, there's videos back to when the roundy round dolly came out. That man put on a race crash helmet and took it down his driveway to say, look at me, I'm having a blast, and this doorway dolly is up to the task. And he had fun with it. When his crankivator came out, he put a seat on it. And you'll find a video out there on the original crankivator of him getting cranked up on this thing, up to the window of a second story office building. So there is a legacy of this content, but I think that we took it a few more steps where we didn't make it produced big pieces where we could just make it these snippets. Making these this little tutorial videos, but I'm definitely building on a foundation of Ed Phillips' content that he would create because he wanted to let people know the same thing.


Martin Torner:

That we're having a great time doing it. The gear is the best gear in the world. And if you're not having fun, maybe you should question what you're doing. That really is kind of where we're coming from and we're talking to our community. And once again, also making it accessible to people that just have an interest. Everything used to be a secret. And guess what? The secrets out. You can buy a camera and you can go out there. The accessibility has made it amazing. And because of that, we want to give people the confidence to be able to use our gear and go create. You don't need to be a salty dog, a seasoned pro, to be able to put up some negative fill and put up some diffusion and elevate your content.


Martin Torner:

You can just be somebody watching a couple of these videos and saying this guy's in his backyard, he has his daughter on a tricycle over there, and he's showing me with two things that he's holding in his hands how I can make my content a lot better. You don't need a whole studio behind you. You don't need a million dollar insurance policy. You can do this with some very basic tools and these videos. So I think we amped it up. Because we had time to do it also during COVID, it's normally, this building, since we are a family grown company, everybody wears a ton of hats. So I show up in the morning and I'm working with our lead engineer, I'm working with assembly, I'm working with people overseas calling about difference in measurements. Well, what is that metric? And what is that? So as a product specialist, I'm dealing with everything all day long.


Martin Torner:

When COVID hit, I had time to make videos. I had time to really sit there and put out. Back then, I think I put out 45 videos out of my house, out of my backyard. And I was saying, hey, this is Martin coming to you from my backyard. And it really showed us that we got such an amazing response, man. People were like, hey, I'm looking forward to these videos weekly. They make my day. I haven't seen my friends. I haven't been on set. And this is just keeping me in touch with the fun that we have at what we do. And I always tell people that the majority of the entertainment in the entertainment industry is behind the scenes. The people I work with, the stories that you hear, the things that happen, the shenanigans, all of that stuff, all of that fun is why we slave away and give away most of our waking hours to be working on these sets, because we're having a good time. Otherwise it would be a very sad existence.


Martin Torner:

So these videos kind of, yeah, let people know, the passion and the excitement behind. And also it's all I know. So thank God people are receptive to it because I'm doing [inaudible 00:31:28] most of my life and I'm really passionate about light and about cooperative art. It's like working with other people to make beautiful things or impactful content. It's a great reason to get up and put your shoes on and get out the door. So we really want to convey that and to let people know that we're a lot more than a bunch of CNC machines. We are people who are really excited about what we do and that we have open ears. Yeah, we're the best. We know that we are the manufacturer of the best gear in the world, and the innovators. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, we're very flattered.


Daniel Jester:

If it sounded like that episode cut off a little early, it's because Martin and I geeked out on gear for another 20 minutes. But we're going to save that bit for now. Maybe it'll become a bonus episode. Many thanks to our guest Martin Torner of Matthews Studio Equipment. And thanks to you for listening. The show is produced by Creative Force, edited by Calvin Lanz. Special thanks to Sean O’Meara. I'm your host, Daniel Jester. Until next time, my friends. Hi Ian.

About the host

Daniel Jester
Chief evangelist at Creative Force

Daniel Jester is an experienced creative production professional who has managed production teams, built and launched new studios, and produced large-scale projects. He's currently the Chief Evangelist at Creative Force but has a breadth of experience in a variety of studio environments - working in-house at brands like Amazon, Nordstrom, and Farfetch as well as commercial studios like CONVYR. Creative-minded, while able to effectively plan for and manage a complex project, he bridges the gap between spreadsheets and creative talent.