Arts & Culture / Mosaic / September 19, 2012

Christopher Murrie ’95 finds calling in film editing

Chris Murrie ‘95 (Courtesy of Chris Murrie)

How does someone get from editing music in WVKC to working for a critically acclaimed animation studio? Ask Christopher Murrie ’95.

Murrie graduated from Knox with a degree in studio art. For the past decade he has been an editor at LAIKA, the studio that made films such as Coraline (2009) and ParaNorman (2012).

Murrie describes editing as “the invisible art of filming… When it’s done right, people aren’t even aware of anything.” His first editing job was at a news clipping service. Despite describing his job as “about as boring as it can get,” he was able to spend hours each day working with editing equipment.

After working on the news clippings, Murrie worked on wedding videos, where he was able to actually edit and produce a product. A year after that, he started working for LAIKA, the company with which he has been ever since.

When thinking back on Knox, Murrie’s first thought lands on his time on the ACM Chicago Program, where he spent a term “immersed in the art world.”  On a whim one day, Murrie decided to use the VHS tape-to-tape editing machine in the studio to cut together images to the music he was writing and recording at the time.

On campus, Murrie was the production manager for the WVKC radio station. As such, he had access to the rooms whenever he wanted. He would spend hours on the top floor of George Davis Hall doing his show, recording live music or public service announcements, as well as a lot of time “just screwing around and figuring it out.

“That’s sort of how I learned editing,” he said. “I just taught myself by doing because I had the tools available to me.”

On the academic side, Murrie cites his department as incredibly supportive and still remembers the names of the professors who impacted him the most.

Although Murrie switched over from a music major, he was still able to incorporate music into his studio art installations.

“I was doing things that didn’t really fit in any box that was predefined by the course catalog,” he says. “They sort of opened the door to me getting to experiment and push things and try the wacky idea I had.”

However, it was not only the visual and audio aesthetics that Murrie learned while at Knox, but also how to critique, which he uses liberally in his work.

Each film takes about three years to complete, during the course of which it will be torn apart and rebuilt multiple times. Murrie’s “strong voice for critique” is something that he uses daily.

“Knox had an enormous impact — between my experiences in the art department and the access to that off campus program,”  Murrie said. “I know I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today if it wasn’t for those few experiences.”

Christina Colman

Tags:  Christopher Murrie Coraline LAIKA ParaNorman

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