NBC founder David Sarnoff coined “Sarnoff’s Law,” which states that the value of a broadcast network is proportional to its number of viewers.
If David Sarnoff’s grandson, Tim Sarnoff, were to decree his own law, it might be: “The art and science of storytelling is really about the science of telling the story artfully.”
For Tim Sarnoff — whose father was also a broadcasting mogul — the fundamentals of entertainment haven’t changed much since his grandfather’s time.
“My m.o. is to excite the audience,” he says. “We are in a disruptive business with technologies changing how and what we do, and potentially what people see, but we’ve not changed the why.”
As president of production services, Sarnoff oversees Technicolor’s ventures in post-production and digital cinema services, animation, games and visual effects, including its subsidiary Moving Picture Co. Previously he’d created Warner Digital Studios and led Sony Imageworks.
Since joining Technicolor in 2009, Sarnoff’s conversations with studio clients have been about adopting a holistic approach to filmmaking.
Where previously everyone would be concerned over their particular part in the making of a movie, now “we are discussing the movie rather then process” and it’s Technicolor’s job to “fit our processes in to their movie,” Sarnoff says. “The only way to do that is to consolidate all the processes under one umbrella.”
To that effect, the most important aspect for Sarnoff has been to maintain integrity. Chris deFaria, Warner Bros. Pictures’ president, Animation, Digital Production and Visual Effects, says, “Often there’s a moment in the middle of negotiation where I have to sit down with Tim and we look each other in the eye and promise to each other to handle what’s coming with good faith and mutual respect.”
Sarnoff says integrity begets trust, and trust begets freedom wherein expression of creativity can flourish.
“That is the most important conversation in an artistic environment,” Sarnoff concludes.