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An Appreciation
Bob Turner
Influential Columnist and Consultant to the Post-Production Industry

Robert R. Turner died on July 15, 2005 at his home in Scituate, MA after an eight-month battle with cancer. He was 54 years old.

Bob was one of the lucky few who found a purpose in life that perfectly matched his background, experience and temperament. A freelance online editor with a talkative streak, a chance encounter with the editor of Videography magazine resulted in a series of articles that established Bob as the foremost authority on the emerging nonlinear editing industry. An inveterate optimist, he saw promise in what was then a not-so-capable technology, guided readers through its complexities, and helped software manufacturers understand the needs and desires of the editing marketplace.

The depth of Bob's expertise in this area was unmatched. His career stretched back to the very beginning of video post-production when editing was done by cutting videotape with a razor blade. As an A/V center administrator, post-production house editor and long-time freelance editor, he had worked in just about every type of operation in existence and could legitimately make the claim that he had edited on every piece of editing equipment ever made.

Then came the chance encounter that changed his life. Scituate neighbor Dave Allen was hosting Videography editor Brian McKernan at his home and Brian was looking for informed authors to explain the just-emerging nonlinear scene to confused readers. It was the match of a lifetime because Bob not only knew how the equipment worked, he understood what all the different types of users needed and could explain it all in simple English that everyone could understand.

Bob wrote some of his most influential articles during his stint at Videography. Best-remembered is 1,001 Questions to Ask Before Purchasing a Nonlinear Edit System System, which was published twice by SMPTE and translated into 12 languages.

Although Bob maintained a healthy business as an editor, he had a lucrative sideline as a consultant to manufacturers. Many of them didn't really know how editors did their jobs or how to design their products so they could be used productively in the professional workplace. Bob's good-humored advice (delivered in a booming voice) truly influenced the development of the industry as he gently guided hardware and software developers into making products that were truly useful and efficient. He was without question the best-informed person on earth about what was going on in the industry and the current state of the art. Few nonlinear/post-production products on the marketplace don't show at least a little of his hand.

Bob was an inveterate optimist: quick to see applications for new technologies and features and unstinting in his encouragement of promising ideas. His only shortcoming was that his enthusiasm sometimes clouded his business insight. This led to some bitter disappointments when some manufacturers didn't follow through on plans he was counting on. Behind most of those decisions was the shrinking significance of the professional marketplace in the face of burgeoning mass-market.

In a sense, an era is dying with Bob. The post-production industry he grew up with - and was the primary exponent of - has virtually disappeared under the onslaught of multimedia boutiques equipped with consumer packages like Apple Final Cut. But his columns in Video Systems and online at Bob Turner's The Cut were avidly followed even by multimedia techies with no background in traditional post-production because when it came to editing and post-production equipment, he really knew his stuff.

-Bob Lamm

Posted: 20 July 2005
Bob Lamm, SMPTE/New England Newsletter/Web Page Editor