As Director of Video Production at Peloton, Nimmers Stern focuses on social media content. He says Peloton’s video work can be thought of in terms of member acquisition and retention. The acquisition content tends to be commercials or other ways of attracting new members. Most of his work is around retention, connecting with their members and keeping them coming back.
Originally from Australia, Nimmers has worked in reality TV, as well as for websites like Vice, Yahoo!, and Refinery29. He likes to think he can shut off and watch something without thinking about how it was edited, but he says he even spent this conversation wondering what Wonder Shuttle would edit out.
How did you end up at Peloton?
I came to New York in 2007. I was a producer-editor. Often I’d just been given the content and had to figure out how to piece it all together, and really got good at telling stories.
When this job opportunity came up in 2017, it was still a very young company. My department started off just being a one-man band. They needed someone to attend meetings and plan future projects and bring on new people when we needed it. To let the editors do the editing and have somebody to help organize and manage them.
It must be a much bigger video team now. Are you doing more managing than editing these days?
We’re about half full-time, half freelancers. That’s editors, animators, an assistant, and a shooter.It’s rare that I’ll be able sit down and do a full edit myself. I’m more setting up projects, getting creatives involved. In some cases, directing and producing. In some cases, just enabling.
Do all of the video employees work out of the same office?
Yeah. I know there are some companies where people can work from home. Even in different creative fields, that does make sense. With video editing, the files are so heavy. Should anything happen, it’s always safer to be in the same environment.
But there’s also your ability to collaborate and learn from each other and share techniques. “How did you do that?” “Let me show you.” I’m a big fan of all that stuff. We’re all collectively working on something. Even though it’s not your project, you can lean over and show someone.
Are there certain metrics that the company focuses on?
There’s not a lot I know or can tell you about that. It’s refreshing and liberating in a way. As much as I want to get as many clicks as I can or have the best outcome, I’m really just focusing on telling the best story.
We read the comments. We look at the likes. We do all that. All that stuff is public knowledge. It always feels good when you can see all these great numbers or look how many views you got or likes. There’s an immediate reaction to that, which is nice.
The instant gratification.
Yeah! It’s like, “We put this video out and it’s got 30,000 views,” or whatever. That’s the most we’ve had, for instance. The metrics beyond that, I don’t have a lot of info. Maybe that’s for the best.
Before you post the videos, what are the standards that your team is trying to achieve?
We like to think of ourselves as a members-first organization. We’re definitely putting them in the middle of this. How is this going to be received? How is someone going to respond to this? How does this align with company values?
We say internally, “Together we go far.” I think that’s what the beauty of this product is. While you are working out by yourself, in your own home, you’re supported by a community. That extends to social media in a really big way.
I really think that’s one of our unique value propositions there. While you are getting motivated through that workout, it’s the other time off the bike that really makes you want to keep coming back.
People know, when they’re buying into Peloton, that they’re getting a high-quality product. From the machine itself to the quality of content they’re receiving. That should be consistent through to the content they’re consuming off the bike [or other equipment].
What does your time look like on the job? You mentioned you’re doing less of the video editing.
Reviewing cuts. A lot of meetings. A lot of planning. A lot of talking with production managers about what’s coming up and how we’re going to be prepared for this or who we want to put on a certain project. I feel like I’m more and more at the beginning of a project and at the end of it, and less in the middle.
With reviewing cuts, what’s the feedback process on that?
My boss right now feels strongly about reviewing things in the room with people. As much as we can, we like to get the editor’s read. I like to be next to a person while I’m reviewing these things so that I’m clear and can articulate feedback quickly.
It’ll go through different steps. It’ll go through me, I’ll be the first point. It’ll go to my boss, the creative director. Then it’ll go to what we call our “stakeholders,” who essentially ordered it. Based on that we would make a final edit and then seal the cut, as it were, and it’ll launch.
Have you been editing video from the very beginning of your career, or was there a point where you really fell in love with that part of the work?
I actually started in production. I was really keen on being on set. I’d been a floor manager. I’d been a video assistant, what they call “video assist.” Basically, on a movie, you’ll have someone duplicating all the files on a computer, for if they want to refer back to something or edit together a small scene.
That was my first taste of editing. But I’m predominantly self-taught. It was really just finding projects that I was interested in and going out and cutting them.
Nowadays, the software is so cheap. Adobe Premiere might cost you a little bit more, but that’s essentially a professional tool that you can go out and learn yourself. Everyone has access to it.
I feel like anyone could become an editor. It takes learning, it takes a lot of patience. But the barriers to entry are a hell of a lot lower these days. I’ve actually found a lot of really great editors who are self-taught or picked up things as they go. It’s an exercise in resourcefulness.
Were you always comfortable being a behind-the-scenes person? Someone that might not necessarily get the name recognition?
I think of myself as an extrovert. When I was in a room by myself for 10 hours, with almost no human interaction, I found that very challenging.
As far as the credit side goes, the editor knows the footage better than anyone. I used to refer to myself as a video surgeon. I can fix anything, I can repair anything. The shooter has a certain amount of time to get the image and then he’s done. In editorial, you can turn things so many different ways.
Often the person reviewing it doesn’t know what the other options are. They only see what you’re presenting them. You do play God sometimes. You say, “Look. I think this is the best way to present this material and I’m going to run with that.” If that is acceptable or not is something else. You might have to go back and change everything.
But the work itself is really quite rewarding. It’s really quite empowering. As you get better at it and learn the craft a little bit more, you realize how far you can push things and what you really can build and create and sculpt in a way.
It is a sculpture. Sometimes you have to know when to take the painting away from the kid. Sometimes you can overthink things and over-edit things. There is a real level of confidence you have to have in your instincts and your feelings towards things.
A producer once laughed at me because I said, “Look. I’ve got to sit here all day and feel things.”
Any final thoughts about your craft?
Like I said earlier, I feel like it’s something that anyone could do. I’m considered by the Department of Immigration to be an editor of extraordinary ability. Truth be told, I worked for good people. The flip side of working as a freelancer is the jobs tend to be shorter and you get to do many of them.
With filmmaking in general, you have all the tools now. You’re kind of out of excuses why you can’t do this. Most people want the recognition, not that many people want to sit in a room for 10 hours untangling fishing wire. That does take a certain skill set for sure. I do believe that pretty much anyone who spends the time on it can learn it.