Exploring the Reality and Implications of Unconscious Bias

The slate on set of “bias”. Images courtesy of Finish Line Features, LLC.

by Jeff Pedersen

posted on 10-24-2018

Unconscious bias influences every aspect of our lives, from the classroom to the boardroom. Bias impacts our relationships, workplaces, technology, and even our justice system. Even if we know these biases exist, the question becomes: what can we do about them?

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Robin Hauser seeks to highlight the nature of unconscious bias through her documentary feature film bias. Robin follows her journey to uncover her own hidden bias and then explores methods of reshaping her thinking. Along the way, she speaks with dozens grappling with the issue, from academic researchers trying to understand bias to mayors and CEOs battling biases in their backyards.

Statistics from Harvard’s Implicit Association Test Reveal the unconscious preferences of its participants. (Project Implicit, 22 Sept 2017 [, www.projectimplicit.net/](<, www.projectimplicit.net/>)). Photo credit Molly Schwartz.

“I consider myself a fair-minded person, but the more I learn about unconscious bias, the more I see how it influences my life,” says Robin. “My closest friends are a lot like me. I make assumptions about people based on their appearances and where they grew up. I began to wonder: what biases do I have that I am not aware of and how do they affect my choices and actions? From these questions, the bias documentary was born.”

Assembling an experienced team

Hauser brought on Christie Herring to act as an editor and producer for this important piece of work. The two previously collaborated on Robin’s award-winning documentary, CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap. With more than 20 years of experience in documentary filmmaking, Christie understands how essential planning is to the documentary workflow.

Christie Herring, producer and editor of “bias”. Photo credit Joanne Lubeck Esser.

“Documentary films tend to get really complex by the end,” says Christie. “We have dozens of interviews, each shot with multiple cameras. For bias, we also combed through many hours of archival footage and sprinkled in original animation to flesh out our film. The challenge was trying to edit all of this footage into a single 90-minute story.”

For years, Christie edited her films using Final Cut Pro, but on CODE, she switched to Adobe Premiere Pro CC. “Working with Adobe Premiere Pro for CODE was a wonderful experience,” says Christie. “It was my first time editing a feature with Premiere Pro, but everything worked so smoothly that we decided to continue with the Adobe editing workflow for bias.”

Moving from Mac to PC

Christie and her assistant editors started working in a Mac environment, using proxies and transcoded media to reduce the load on their older computers. After working on the film for several weeks, the filmmakers formed a close relationship with Dell and decided to switch to a PC environment running on powerful Dell desktops.

Sarah Cannon, assistant editor of “bias”, working on Dell workstations. Photo credit Joanne Lubeck Esser.

With the power of Dell workstations behind them, Christie was ready to unleash the full editing power of Premiere Pro. Rather than settling for proxies, Christie and her assistants could edit footage in native 4K resolution—seeing footage exactly as audiences would.

“I was thrilled that Premiere Pro functions the same on both Mac and PC,” says Christie. “It was such a relief to me and my team that we could switch environments and still have everything we needed exactly where we expected it to be.”

Adopting a Team Projects workflow

Upgrading the workstations was only the first step to transforming the Premiere Pro workflow. After talking with Adobe, Christie realized that she and her post-production team could get even more editing power out of their workflow by collaborating using Team Projects. Working in a team project, they could access their sequences from anywhere and work simultaneously, giving them the flexibility to work at the office or at home without affecting collaboration.

Robin Hauser, director and producer of “bias”, and Christie Herring, producer and editor of bias. Photo credit Joanne Lubeck Esser.

“Team Projects was the key to our whole workflow,” says Christie. “I could share changes in real time with my assistant editors, talking to them over phone or chat as we looked over changes in real time. It increased our efficiency and gave us enormous control over how we did our work. We were not forced to be tied to one edit system. We could see each other’s work without traveling all the way to the office, and on many days it allowed me to skip a long commute. Best of all, we could work without constant attention to tedious versioning and importing of updated sequences. We could just edit.”

The bias team had already completed filming 70% of the footage before switching to the Dell environment, so the editors continued to manage media in a more traditional method with footage stored across mirrored systems. But for the credits, Christie experienced the full potential of Team Projects with a seamless cloud-based workflow. Animation and text cards were stored in the cloud, and any member of the production team could update the credits as needed. This allowed editors to keep the constantly changing credits up to date with far less effort.

“Team Projects lends itself to a really fantastic workflow,” says Christie. “I can’t imagine wanting to work any other way.”

bias held its highly successful world premiere at the Bentonville Film Festival with two sold-out screenings. Other festivals, private screenings, and distribution plans are in the works, along with plans to create an edit specifically for educational use. To date the film has won four awards, has been accepted to DOCUTAH, Mill Valley, United Nations, Napa Valley and Naples film festivals, and is in hot demand for private screenings at corporations and schools in the US and abroad.

“I love working with Adobe,” says Christie. “Everyone was so responsive and always ready to lend a helping hand. I can’t wait to take advantage of the latest Team Project features on my next editorial project.”

Learn more about bias at www.biasfilm.com.

Topics: Creativity, Video & Audio

Products: Premiere Pro, Creative Cloud