Alkemy X

Ryan Sun is a post-producer whose media career started in broadcast news. After leaving the journalism field, he worked on various projects, from independent features to larger funded studio projects before eventually landing in post-production in 2012. He worked as an editor for the next 8 years cutting spots for various clients, including Comcast, AARP, Miller Lite, and Hulu. In 2020, Ryan became a post-producer with Alkemy X. He works closely with clients and the creative staff in executing various video pieces for broadcast, web, and film. In addition, he assists with Alkemy X’s post-workflow management.

Check out our conversation with Ryan on project management, effective collaborations, innovative technology, and more!

AX: What are the primary challenges you face in managing post-production workflows and ensuring the timely delivery of high-quality work?

RS: There are always challenges that I encounter in post-production, but there are a few that stand out more than others. For me, the biggest challenge is an unexpected technical hiccup. 

We’ve come to a point with our technology that everything is so modular with plug-ins, software versions, and operating systems, that editing systems and software react unexpectedly.

The second thing that comes to mind is staying in step with your partners and team. With so many people involved in any given project, communication is critical, especially when there is a last-minute creative change or some other unforeseen circumstance. We’re able to adapt and overcome most obstacles thrown our way, but open lines of communication–from the bottom to the top–are imperative to ensure we stay on budget and meet our deadlines. 

AX: How do you collaborate with other departments to streamline the post-production process and achieve project goals?

RS: Simply put, communication and organization are the most important aspects of a strong collaborative relationship. But communication means more than just relaying information from one department to the other. A strong interdepartmental relationship requires that we talk with each other, not just to each other. Understanding someone’s background (e.g., their personality traits, their editing style, their communication preferences, their working habits) can really give insight into how he or she approaches work and handles a job. What works for me may not work for someone else, and vice versa, so I always try to start a project by picking the brains of the people with whom I’m working with to get a sense of their personal workflow and identify aspects of my own style that I may have to adapt. This creates a good working foundation that only helps strengthen communication and organization as the project moves forward.  

AX: Can you share some insights into the latest technologies and tools that you utilize in post-production, and how these innovations contribute to enhancing the final product?

RS: AI has changed our landscape so much in such a short amount of time, and we’re only skimming the surface with it. At Alkemy X, we view AI as a valuable tool that can help from the very birth of a project (e.g., building decks with generated style frames) all the way to finishing (e.g., backend automation and less manual input for deliverables). Beyond AI, we’re also seeing advancements with software (e.g., multi-user integrations and other UI enhancements) and other collaborative platforms and tools (e.g., These new tools allow us to get a broader scope of the current technological landscape and help us identify ways we can become more efficient.  

AX: How do you handle unexpected challenges or revisions that may arise during the post-production process?

RS: I’m a big fan of board games, which usually center around one goal the player must complete to win. I think about that concept when I approach a new project. You start off with an offensive approach–developing a project timeline, assembling the team, and aligning everyone on a plan. But, as can be expected, there are sometimes hiccups or roadblocks to the finish line, and we have to think about the next best route to get us to the end goal. Understanding your options and the most efficient paths from any diversion is the first step. Then visualizing what that looks like, implementing a plan, and communicating that plan with the team is how I adapt to these situations. For me, laying out all the possible routes to the finish line lets everyone know–me included–that the project can move forward and the end is in sight. This can be a huge relief to everyone involved when we’re in the “thick of it” and hitting our budget or deadline feels impossible. 

AX: With the evolving landscape of media production, how do you stay updated on industry trends and incorporate new techniques to keep Alkemy X at the forefront of post-production excellence?

RS: As I’ve advanced through this industry, I’ve come to realize that a lot of the information you learn about trends and techniques comes from your network. I find that my colleagues are always sharing different techniques or information about new technology, and the most invaluable conversations are those in which we discuss recent trends and our predictions for the future of post-production. I also frequent various message boards geared towards post-production. I’m a big fan of Reddit and follow several post-production subreddits, which contain posts from people on the ground, doing the leg work. These people are putting in time and effort to troubleshoot issues they come across and provide new ideas and potential solutions. I think that collective intelligence like this really highlights the value of the hivemind in this industry. 

AX: What strategies do you employ to maintain a balance between creativity and efficiency in post-production?

RS: I think that at the outset, you can look at the life of a project and know what points in the execution you need to hit to get it to completion in the most efficient way possible. Accommodating the creative asks along the way is what I think becomes the bigger challenge.  I’ve always approached projects wanting to be as flexible as possible. Exploring and adapting your processes sometimes creates the path of least resistance while satisfying most of the people involved.  

AX: How do you manage expectations and ensure that the final deliverables align with the client's vision and objectives?

RS: Although I’d love to be a “yes” man, it’s vital that you’re realistic with client expectations from the very beginning. Understanding what clients want and need is an important first step, but communicating with clients about how their end goal fits (or does not fit) into the existing workflow should be one of your higher priorities throughout the duration of the project. I find that being upfront with clients from the beginning is helpful. I’ve been in this industry for almost two decades, but not everyone has, so I try to walk every client through the technical and creative aspects of each project, including potential hurdles. In a way, my role is to help shepherd the project and that may include educating the client along the way. Managing expectations is a mix of listening and informing. 

AX: Can you discuss any specific strategies you employ to foster a collaborative and innovative environment within the post-production team?

RS: I think anyone who works with me knows that I’m a fan of having on-the-fly meetings to make sure everyone is aligned. Could these meetings be emails…probably? But I think you gain something by having face-to-face conversations. As we talk through the plan or workflow, we’re able to reconceptualize or bring new ideas to the table. It’s almost like an organic workshop that couldn’t be achieved over email.

AX: Can you share a success story or project where your role played a crucial part in overcoming challenges and delivering outstanding results for a client?

RS: Last year, I worked on a multi-day production with a tight deadline in post. This project was non-scripted and had a docu-style element to it so our exploratory phase needed to be quick. To help facilitate this workflow, I had been out on set and relayed all of the information and dailies as we shot to our editor, Mark Hutchinson. By the time we had wrapped shooting, we had quickly turned around two spots for the client to look at with their stakeholders.

After we got the feedback from the stakeholders, we learned that they had wanted to go in a different direction and we needed to cut a different spot separate from the original two. Once we were able to get this third spot cut and approved, we wound up having to pivot one more time and cut an alternate spot because of a legal issue.  

I was able to work with our editorial and live-action staff to help sort out and facilitate what the client wanted as they made each change in direction. In the end, we were all able to get the client not only the approved spot, but also several great options that they could use internally. 

AX: As a post-production producer, what advice would you give to aspiring professionals entering the field, and how can they prepare for the dynamic and fast-paced nature of the media industry?

RS: I’ve been in this industry for a long time. I started as an assistant editor, then editor, and now I’m a post-producer. My experience has allowed me to understand the production process as a whole and to grow in not only creative ways but also in many other ways that I didn’t expect. As every role is connected, I found that my skills and knowledge with other facets of the industry became stronger in an organic way. By working with producers, directors, and many others, I was able to gain more insight into their responsibilities and roles. My advice would be to observe and take a close look at what’s going on around you. You’ll find that more things might resonate with you than you would expect.