Informational speakers, valuable prizes and showcases make CHIFCPUG meetings a cut above

Editor Sue Lawson doesn’t mind fighting the “horrendous traffic” from Lake Bluff to the Adler Planetarium for a Chicago Final Cut Pro Users Group meeting, “because they are so well worth it,” she said.

Lawson of Blue Sky Video is one of CHIFCPUG’s 150 active members?film editors who work with Final Cut Pro software, and others in editing, post, sound, video and film.

For Lawson, the Group is an ideal amalgam of “networking, ideas, education, development, and more,” she said enthusiastically, sounding like the recently board-appointed “ambassador” she is.

“It’s a chance to see how new software is utilized, and listen to other editors tell of how they worked around their challenges,” she said. And there’s the added advantage to her of frequently being hired as an assistant on other editors’ jobs.

Like most organizations, the meeting centers on continuing education, said Group president Fred Pfeifer, a PR/marketing pro and president of the Manfred Group of Arlington Heights.

David Sallak of Midwest Media Group headlines the May 25 meeting. He will present Focus Enhancements’ Firestore FS-4 and FS-4 Pro, the first HDV disk recorders with Direct to Edit (DTE) technology designed for camcorders.

But members’ interactive participation in educational and creative activities is where the Group parts company with more traditional professional meetings.

There’s the chance a member can win expensive, high-end donated prizes during the evening. Members receive free raffle tickets (they can buy more at $5 each that help defray meeting expenses) yielding such goodies as an iPod Shuffle and a copy of Apple Tiger, as one member recently won.

“Other winners have gone home with software worth in excess of $700,” noted Pfeifer, who initially joined the Group to learn more about editing his clients’ corporate videos.

A short session of members trying to “Stump the Gurus” jump- starts the meeting. “Editors take the stage to field members’ questions about software and techniques. If an expert fails to answer correctly, the questioner receives a free raffle ticket,” he said.

Wrapping the meeting are a pair of member showcases. To take the ThinkStock Challenge, members create 30-second spots compiled from donated free stock footage and library music. The members vote the best spot and the editor wins a free ThinkStock disk, worth about $600.

A screening of members’ short reels of recent work follows and concludes the evening.

Gary Adcock, owner of Studio 37, an HDTV and film consulting company, started the group in 2001 “as a conduit for all of my friends to share thoughts and ideas about the art and technique of editing and post,” he said.

CHIFCPUG membership is a comparatively low $50 a year. Guests are welcome and pay $5, plus $5 each for raffle tickets. The May 25 meeting at the Planetarium auditorium kicks off at 6:15 p.m.

For more information, call Pfeifer at 847-394-9920, or Email Sue Lawson’s phone is 847/295-9555. See

NEWLY CHIFCUPUG OFFICERS. President Fred Pfeifer succeeds Chip Eberhart of High Level Productions, who remains on the board.

Re-elected: VP Dennis Burgin, Kaleidoscope Communications Inc.; secretary Jeff Evenson, Production Central; treasurer Tom Foss, Mount Prospect National Bank.

New board members: membership director Patrick Mongoven, Shoreline Productions; directors-at-large Steve Eisen, Eisen Video Productions, Rod Stanback, Ch. 32 WFLD videographer and Rick Krauser, editor.

Ambassadors (or liaisons to Apple, sponsors, membership and trade shows): former board member Steve Ordower, Rhythm & Light; Scott Murphy, TheTechTherapist and Sue Lawson, Blue Sky Video Productions.

Former board member George Patay, Patay & Associates, remains as webmaster and newsletter editor.