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Benjamin Maribona

Benjamin has had one of those careers that can only be found in the broadcast industry.

 

Benjamin talks about starting his first video production company at the age of seventeen and then growing his business to become one of the largest post production company in Mexico.

 

“I guess I was always destined to go into film and video production. My father started his broadcast career at radio station C.M.Q in Havana in Cuba, before Castro’s time. Back then, Cuba became the first Latin American country to have television and my father was one of the early pioneers working at CMQ-TV. So I grew up listening to all of his stories from this early time.”

“Later my father went onto to join Nestle looking after their marketing and advertising campaigns here in Mexico. As I said, I guess I was always going to be involved in production or advertising in someway given my father’s experiences.”

“To begin with, I wanted to be in electronics engineering but I wasn’t to good at mathematics. In fact, I never understood algebra, which I knew was always going to be a problem. While I was at school I feel in love with both photography and computer graphics. I remember one Christmas, I really wanted an Atari game console, however my grandparents got me a Texas Instruments TI-99 home computer.”

“As soon as I started programming and doing things on this computer, I was hooked for life. My next computer was an Commodore 64, then an Amiga, which I guess I kept evolving until I got my first NewTek Video Toaster. In fact, I became a beta tester for NewTek for many years, so many of my early experiences were largely based around the NewTek products.”

“Video production also featured very early for me. While I was still at high school, my father bought a Sony CCD V5000 hi8 camera. Having this camera started a whole new career for me. While I was only seventeen, I had a number of corporate clients wanting me to shoot and edit videos for them.”

“In fact, my first client engaged me to do a promotional video of the ‘Tequila Cuervo Super Party’ which was to be held at Cancun during the ‘American Super Bowl’. It was great thing to be doing this at this age.”

“It was amazing fun doing video production, as I was shooting these crazy DJ shots and using crazy color effects throughout – and all at seventeen years of age! So I really started my first company at age seventeen, all while I was still at high school.”

“During this time, I had a small office at my parents home which I used the whole time I was studying at university. While I continued to run my video production company, I was also studying communications at Anahuac University, where I then majored in TV production before specializing in post and film production.”

“All through this time I was learning everything I could and attending workshops and seminars on film held by companies like Kodak. I thought it was  important that I learnt everything I could.”

“After awhile, I was doing so much work out of my parents home that it became important that I get my own commercial office. At this time I had a lot of good corporate business, but I really wanted to do advertising and commercials. The building my company Digital Sprockets is now in, used to be the Tequila cuervos corporete office building. Right next door we had PepsiCo and a couple of building down was Leo Burnett and Young and Rubicam, so this location was absolutely perfect.”

“Soon I found opportunities in finishing and mastering TV commercials for the agencies and production companies alike. My clients soon grew to include many production companies and advertising agencies from whom I was doing all of their transfer and mastering for their campaigns here in Mexico. I have been doing mastering and file transfers for many clients for well over ten years. Long term clients include companies like the airline Aeromexico and the bank, Santander Mexico.”

“Over the years my clients grew and grew to include corporates clients like SC Johnson Wax, BBC, Univisión, Kodak, Tequila Cuervo Internacional and many, many others.”

“In 2004, I then purchased our first telecine which was to change my business forever. This first telecine I bought out of Los Angeles, which was a big risk because we also had to get this massive piece of equipment up to the 10 floor of the building where my office is. It wasn’t all bad though, because our office block is set into the side of a hill, so at the back, it was only two stories up. But still, getting this telecine in through the window and into the grading suite was a major operation. From then on, we purchased a DaVinci Renaissance and a DaVinci classic color grading and film restoration system.”

“Originally my clients started to bring me old films for transfer to Digibeta. Then when things moved across to HD here in Mexico, so every old movie needed to be transferred or restored. Then I bought a Millenium II and DaVinci 2kplus, soon every network and video-on-demand service in Mexico required everything to be file based.”

“As soon as that happened, my business grew very quickly. Mexico has been very progressive with huge adoption of HD TVs and digital cinema, so there has been a lot of work converting old Latin films to digital files.”

“These days, I do mostly comedies and traditional films from the 1960s, 70s and early 80s. The funny thing is, when I was teaching post production at Anahuac University I would hear people at the film schools being very critical of the films from this era. But when you have the negatives in your hands, it is very surprising how good the production values actually were.”

“They are all good movies and musicals that have fantastic production values and were all very well produced. I really don’t understand why the Mexican film schools were so critical of them, because they are beautifully shot and an important part of our history.”

“Nowadays, my company, Digital Sprockets has grown to become one of the largest post production facility here in Mexico. Lately, I do mostly post production rather than production like when I started. I really enjoy being a colorist and mastering films for many of the directors here in Mexico. I guess you could say that my life in post has been what most people dream of doing.”

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