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Featured Member: Sophia Kim

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sophia Kim
Featured Member: Sophia Kim
From Contributing Member: Elaine Spooner

WHAT DREW YOU TO THE ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS? 

I've always been an avid fan of entertainment.  While growing up in Chicago, I watched tons of television and loved going to the movies.  My philosophy has always been ‘love what you do’ and ‘work at what you enjoy.”  Therefore, I always knew I would somehow be involved in media and entertainment as a career.  

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY? 

My first job in digital media was working as an AP on multimedia titles for clients like McDonald’s. Even before the Internet became mainstream, we produced on multiple platforms. Now that’s become the norm.

HOW DID YOU START OUT AS A PRODUCER?

I was fortunate and got a little lucky when I was asked to join a local production team as an AP in Chicago where I happened to be based at the time.  It turned out to be part of a broader multimedia project which started my career in digital media. 

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE VOLUNTEER/COMMITTEE WORK YOU DO FOR THE GUILD?

Over the years, I’ve become more involved in the PGA and now I’m currently on the board of PGA’s New Media Council, Vice-Chair of PGA Northwest and Chair of NW’s Screening Committee.  We’re a small but growing group of producers in Northwest.  In the Bay Area in particular, we have a lot of great talent in new media especially broadband, mobile and gaming.  It’s a very diverse group.

WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?

I’m currently CEO of Xtranormal (www.xtranormal.com), a digital storytelling company, that allows anyone to create a 3D movie in a few minutes.  With Xtranormal, you can pick a set, pick actors, type a story and instantly create a 3D animated movie.  You can use voiceovers to customize your story or use our text to speech technology to automate the voices. Over 10 million stories have already been created using Xtranormal by amateurs and professionals including Universal, MTV, The New York Times and Microsoft. It’s exciting to be  part of a revolution in which people are using technology to create, watch and share their stories across platforms.  

I’m also involved with ‘The Secret Society of Women’ which I started with TV journalist Lisa Ling.  It’s an anonymous social media community for women that’s free to join and participate.  We’re currently in a development deal with a major cable network to explore turning the site into a TV show.  It’s a great integration of traditional and new media.  

WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR MOST INTERESTING PROJECTS, AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THEM?

Most digital media projects are challenging but for different reasons. I learned early on that creating content online was totally different from traditional film and television.  The audiences are also often different and how they consume and interact with content is different online.  When it comes to digital content creation, there is a small set of people who create, but a large number of participants who watch.  These ‘voyeurs’ encourage the creation of other content and help make content viral.  The challenge is to figure out how to get more people to create and watch and ultimately come back and participate again.” The key is to make it easy for people to create and participate.  We’re constantly experimenting with different formats, innovative techniques and dynamic participation methods to see what works and what doesn’t.

I also worked on some memorable non-digital projects.  Early in my career, we had to film a summer car drive through scene in the middle of winter in Chicago.  We wanted to get the scene shot quickly and under budget so opted not to have it shot in another city (warmer weather) thinking it would save on time and budget.  It turned out to be one of the coldest winters in Chicago history so every time an actor said a line, the cold air would create a frost effect not to mention we could hear the actors teeth chattering in every take.  We ended up having to set up a tent around the entire drive thru and bring in portable heating lamps, extra lighting and heating pads for the cast & crew.  What did I learn?  It would have cost us less to fly the entire team to LA and warmer weather than try to create a fake summer in the middle of a Chicago winter.  Always have a backup plan and never anticipate things will go smoothly.  Something unexpected will always happen.


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