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We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

You don’t know what you don’t know. There is so much out there that I know I don’t know. And there’s so much out there that I don’t even know that I don’t know about. A few months back I wrote about a situation that arose where someone didn’t know something they probably should have.

I remember first getting started as a young professional video editor when the topic of compression came up. Those editing classes at JMU taught me something about compression but not nearly enough to be a competent professional. I had heard of H.264, knew that QuickTime Movies were “massive” files and WMVs were something else and my head just spun and spun. That was even before learning about bitrates and all that even tech-ier stuff. I was lost. But little by little, reading blog post by blog post and chatting in forum after forum, I finally started to get a grasp of the concept.

I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I only knew what I had experienced up to that point. Up to that point it was making high-quality QuickTime movies for my professor to review on the “huge” 50″ TV in the front of the classroom. It wasn’t about web delivery or making sure the videos were compatible with the player in the software I was making videos for.

The other day I was helping out a fellow video professional with a problem with the audio they had been recording. We were troubleshooting over the phone while I was in the lobby of convention center where my niece’s dance competition was taking place. Pacing back and forth with one hand covering my free ear so I could hear better I asked what kind of mic they were using and they rattled off some Sony U-something. I continued, “It’s a wireless lav, right?” And they said, “Ahh I don’t think so.”

Spoiler alert: it is. And I knew it was because I was fairly certain it was a lav that I used to use.

“Does the mic directly connect to your camera? Or is there a separate receiver?”

“Umm I’m not quite sure what you mean.”


They didn’t know what they didn’t know.

“Ohhh…” I hear from the other end of the phone.

As someone new to the industry they had only used wireless lavs. They didn’t even know there was a difference between wireless and traditional wired lavs so there was no way they would know some of the troubleshooting tactics that would be needed to fix their issue.

I ended up giving them a couple tips on checking the frequency between the receiver and mic and they fixed the issue.

They didn’t know what they didn’t know.

Do you remember a time when a concept that seems so simple today was completely foreign and confusing? I’d love to hear about it below.

In the coming weeks I’ll be posting some more stories and quick tips on how to fix issues you may or may not have come across in the video world. To receive email updates for these posts go right here. It takes 15 seconds.

All the Equipment You Need to be a Freelance Video Editor

All The Equipment You Need to be a Freelance Video Editor

Every freelancer video editor needs equipment. Whether you work in someone else’s edit bay or your own in your basement or a combination of the two, like me, you’ll need a handful of items to run your business.

You don’t need a $25,000 edit bay to have a freelance video editing business anymore. You need reliable equipment that fits your needs.

This post is about equipment that I have and use on a daily basis. I’ll tell you what I think are the best hard drives for video editing, my favorite head phones, what I’ve bought that grows dust and more. If you’d like to see a post on the software and services I use let me know in the comments! Alright, let’s jump right in.

The Essential Freelance Video Editing Equipment


Cost: $1,300

I purchased, or rather my wife purchased my iMac back in 2012. It was a wedding present from her and fast-forwarding to 2016 it still runs fantastic. I wouldn’t edit a 4K feature on it but for what I do most days it gets the job done like a champ.

Here are some specs:

  • Size: 21.5”
  • Processor: 2.9GHz Intel Core i5
  • Memory: 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M 512 MB
  • Accessories: Magic Mouse and Wired Keyboard with Number Pad (you gotta have the number pad!) If you find them useful, an editor’s keyboard like this one can be super helpful.

Link to a similar updated version of my iMac on Apple.com

Fantom G Force 2TB USB 3.0 External Hard Drive Black

Cost: $90

I love these hard drives. I firmly believe they are the best hard drives for video editing. There are cheaper ones. There are faster ones. There are larger ones. But this one, this exact one, has never failed me. Never, ever, ever. I’m not even afraid of jinxing it. For three years the same one, now retired, traveled with me in my backpack into DC. My commute consisted of a jam-packed commuter bus with my backpack jammed in front of my feet at my seat then a mile walk to work through the city through cold, rain, snow, heat, whatever.

The only downside is that it needs a power source. That’s kinda a drag if you want to edit from anywhere but I’ve never had an issue. I highly recommend always traveling with them in the box they come in with the styrofoam. They hardly move when they are in it but with any hard drive if you drop it, spill your coffee on it or just generally treat it poorly it will fail you.

Link on Fantom G Force Hard Drive on Amazon

Sennheiser HD6 Mix Headphones

Cost: $179

These headphones changed my life. After going through half a dozen different headphones the past few years, I’ve landed on these. I’m nearly a year into using them and can’t imagine editing without ‘em. I take them to every single gig. I take them to Starbucks. I take them whenever I travel. They are a 100/100.

These are not “noise cancelling”. However they are noise reducing. The thing is…I get startled at least 3x a day because I cannot hear a gosh darn thing when they are on.

One of my favorite features is that you can choose which side to plug the wire into. This helps me because at one of my recurring gigs the mixer sits on the left and at home my headphones are plugged in to my right. It’s such a small thing but not having to fuss with a wire in front of me all day long saves me so many seconds that continue to add up each day.

Link to them on Sennheiser (they’re $179 here)

Link to them on Amazon (they’re $150 here)


How else are you supposed to spend render breaks when everything is firewalled on the computer you’re working on?

The Non-Essential Equipment

Sony NEX6 Camera

Cost: ~$500

You don’t need a camera to be a video editor. This camera would never cut it on a heavy duty shoot but for vlogging, quick interviews and small photo shoots it gets the job done for an affordable price.

I don’t believe this camera is made any longer but Sony has comparable mirrorless cameras.

Link to Sony NEX6 on Amazon

AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod with Bag

Cost: $23.49!!

A few months ago my buddy asked me to take some “professional” photos. I don’t claim to be a professional photographer or even an amateur one. But he was in a pinch and knew I had a decent camera (see above!) so I told him sure. However I didn’t have a tripod yet for the camera. I jumped on Amazon, Primed it to me and the next day had this tripod. It’s decent. I have the worst time fitting it back into its bag and it’s a little cumbersome to use but you can’t beat the price or the weight.

Since it is so lightweight you need to be very careful not to leave your camera resting on the tripod while you walk away. This tripod can tip easily if anyone bumps it. But again for the price are you going to complain?

Link to Tripod on Amazon

Movo PM10 Deluxe Smartphone Lav Mic

Cost: $25

This is a tiny clip-on lav that plugs into your iPhone or other smartphone. On an iPhone you use the Voice Memos app that comes pre-installed. Plug it in and hit record. You can also use this on a computer. It’s super handy. I’ve recorded podcasts, interviews, vlogs, etc. with this. It’ll never replace a “true” lav but it gets the job done for small projects.

You cannot adjust the audio levels so do a test or two before hitting record. You may have to move it closer or further from the speaker’s mouth. Also make sure to unplug the mic when you want to listen back to the recording. I did this like the first six times I used it and kept forgetting that the mic was plugged into the headphone jack so the phone or computer wouldn’t playback through the speakers.

Link to Lav on Movo (here it’s $25)

Link to it on Amazon (here it’s $15) (BTW apparently there’s a double mic version of this! I might have to pick one up…)

CAD U37 USB Studio Condenser Mic

Cost: $39

This is the mic I use for Command+Edit and the EVF tutorials and vlogs. Just being real…it’s average-to-decent quality. There are much better quality USB mics out there but again, like most of my equipment, it gets the job done and that’s all I need. I recommend it if you are in the <$50 range. Just make sure you put a piece of graffers tape over the blue light that never turns off while it’s plugged in!

Link to CAD U37 USB Mic on Amazon

Wacom Bamboo Pen and Tablet

Cost: ~$100?

I never use this. Maybe one day I will. Some editors like my buddy Nick swears by it. You might swear by it. I cannot get the hang of it. I don’t believe Wacom makes this tablet anymore but from what I hear Wacom is pretty much the top choice if you’re in the market for one.

This product gets 4.4 stars on Amazon. I also got it on Black Friday for like $45 a few years ago. It’s a tablet. It gathers dust at my desk. But if you’re curious if I have one, this is it.

Link to Wacom Bamboo on Amazon

Link to other tablets by Wacom

Moleskin and Mechanical Pencil

Cost: ~$7

Maybe I write too much but I always have a Moleskin notebook and a mechanical pencil on me. I use it for ideas, blog posts, editing notes, client feedback, etc. And it doesn’t look like I’m playing on my phone while I’m in meetings.

What’s in your edit bay?

I’m pretty sure that’s literally every bit of equipment I use running my freelance video editing business. It’s not always the fanciest of equipment. What’s important though is that it is all reliable, convenient and affordable.

You’re turn. Anything on your equipment list that’s different? Leave your thoughts below!

Two more quick things. First, if you know an editor that would like this post could you share it with them? I love the community we’re building here and want to keep the momentum going!

And second, just so you know, some of these links are called affiliate links. All that means is that if you were to purchase it or something from their site (like Amazon) I would get a very small commission. It’s no extra cost to you and maybe one day from it I’ll be able to buy a 6-pack of Dogfish Head 60 Minute or Peyton some pumpkin Fruitables she loves or my wife a bouquet of flowers for putting up with me writing three quarters of this post in bed.

Hey, if you’re new around here and want to stick around click here to signup to get notified about new posts and get my weekly newsletter that gives tips, resources, articles, videos and more to make you the best editor you can be.

A Few Updates!


Hey! I just wanted to give you a couple updates on what’s going on here at EVF.

First off, I’m about to be busier than ever. I’m shooting every weekday until… August 29th. Yep. The rest of the month. I’ll be shooting in four different cities and on top of that I’ll have to be editing a lot of what I shoot at night.

I can’t tell if all this is coming at a good time or not. I would like to get my mind off things but at the same time want to be around for everyone. Over the past month I have lost two people very close to me, one very unexpectedly. Myself, my friends and my family have been weathering the storm admirably and I’m extremely proud of them, proud to be part of my circle of friends and proud to be a Short.

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23 Posts about Video Production, Post Production, Avid and More

23 Posts on Post

I’ve been writing for my friends over at ScreenLight for…well…a long time. It’s been over two years and in the Internet world that’s a really long time. Over that time I’ve been able to stockpile a bunch of writings that I want to share with you today. 23 of them to be exact.

The posts range from Media Composer tips to the Pomodoro Technique for time management to Apps for Editors and so much more. I’ve broken them up into a couple of categories. At the very top are a few of my favorites and ones I think you should definitely read.

My Favorite Posts

The Edit Bay – A Romanticized View of One Editor’s Relationship With Four Walls

Video Editor is Not a Synonym for Motion Graphics Artist

Editor: The Amateur vs. The Professional

How to Setup a Video Company on a Realistic Budget

Read more

Giving Unconditional Help and Why I Nearly Cried on Set Last Week


Today is a huge day. A monumental day! Do you know what today is?

It is the one-year anniversary of Edit Video Faster. My blog birthday! 365 days ago I was up late one night and decided to stop waiting and just go after it. Here’s how it all started.

I’m not going to spend the rest of this post recapping what happened over the past year. Basically I can sum it up in that I wrote a bunch of posts and made a ton of tutorials with the goal of helping video editors or creative professionals like me. The results came in the form of overwhelming support from my readers, people actually bought products I created, new friends were made, I created a course for Tuts+, I started a podcast, I got new freelance clients and I pushed my abilities further than I ever thought I could. Oh, and last week just to top it all off… I got to write a post for Avid!

Read my post for Avid here!

Okay, okay. No more bragging. I promise. I feel very vain at the moment.

Being on Avid’s site seriously means so much to me. I was legit nearly brought to tears. However I was in the middle of a shoot when the article went live and thought it’d be a little inappropriate to start tearing up so I tried to keep my joy and excitement to a minimum, at least externally.

In today’s post I want to touch on what happens when you attempt to help people without expecting anything in return. Let’s call this unconditional help.

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One-On-One Video Editing Coaching


I want to make you a better video editor. That’s what I’ve been doing through my site, YouTube channel and other avenues for the past year. Pretty much this entire time I’ve been helping a faceless audience. I’ve been guessing at what you want to learn and hoping I’m using something relatable to be able to teach you. I know it’s working for a lot of you (I love the thank you emails I get!). However a lot of the time I still don’t know what you are struggling with. You, the one reading my words right now, I want to help you. That’s why I want to be your coach.

Recently I’ve had a huge problem. I have had several requests come in for complex custom tutorials that can’t be reused for everyone. I want to help these individuals out but I have such limited time after my 9-5, creating content for this site, walking Peyton, another new secret project I’m announcing soon (!!!) and trying to have something close to a social life. I have two options. I can:

  1. Spend several hours creating these custom tutorials, which results in lost time either with my family or creating content for this site or
  2. I can keep my family time and EVF content creation time but not be able to help these individuals in the way that they want/need help since email and screen shots aren’t enough sometimes.

Neither option works for me.

I cannot justify helping one individual person at the expense of not being able to create content for this site (and thus helping many). It isn’t fair to everyone else…that means you! My family time will always come first and with my limited free time I need some grounds for cutting out on one of them. That justification comes in the form of private, one-on-one premium coaching.

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Timecode: Is it still important?

Timecode: Is it still important?

Timecode: Is it still important?

The answer is yes. Timecode is still important. It’s a vital and fundamental skill that still has impact when shooting or editing in virtually every kind of video.

Monday night Shane Ross, one of my favorite editors to follow on Twitter, tweeted this:

This escalated to a remarkably civil discussion on the matter between him and a few other editors. I’m with Shane though. Timecode is incredibly important despite not being used in as many ways as it used to.

This post will go through a brief overview of what timecode is, some antiquated uses that I used it for and why it remains important to know and understand today.

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Why I Watch Makeup Bloggers on YouTube


Background photo by Sodanie Chea on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/sodaniechea/7755892088


Note: Yesterday I had this whole post about New Year’s resolutions written and ready to go but thought that, well, it was boring. So I scrapped it and started on this one. Hope you enjoy it!

The world of media consumption is changing. Rapidly. I know I’m not the first person to say that. However I might be the first to say this: Everything you need to know about the evolution and trends of media consumption can seen from watching makeup bloggers on YouTube.


Yep, YouTube makeup bloggers. I watch them. Maybe you should too. Let me explain.

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How to Become the Best Production Assistant and Assistant Editor

Become the best PA and AE

Become the best PA and AE

To break into the video industry you almost always have to become a PA, Production Assistant, or an AE, Assistant Editor. I’m assuming since you’re reading this than you’ve either been one, are one or want to become one.

I’ve worked as an assistant in a number of industries, as a PA and an AE and through my experiences I learned that there’s only one way to become the best PA or AE.

Here it is: Become the best PA or AE by always being one step ahead of the person you are assisting.

It’s rather simple. You can stop reading now if you want, my feelings won’t be hurt, or you can continue reading and learn about a couple real life examples from my career. There will also be some tactics along the way that will help you become the best PA or AE.

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Why I work for free…sometimes

It’s 8:30pm on Tuesday night and up until about 30 minutes ago there was a different post scheduled to go out tomorrow, my regular posting day. Like many nights I found myself winding down with a few minutes of Twittering while watching the Nats game. That was until I saw an interesting retweet:

Normally I’d just move on hoping for a new tweet from @CuteEmergency or @OhMyCorgi. But today was different. I felt compelled to respond because something happened earlier today that proved why working for free pays off.

Proving why working for free pays off

A new small business was in the process of getting their storefront setup last winter. I have a somewhat selfish interest in seeing them succeed because I like what they do and the people there (who I didn’t know at first). I felt they could use the video medium in some of there marketing efforts so I offered them my services, 100% pro bono (aka for free or literally, “for the public good”).

I spent an hour talking with them about what they need and sketched out some ideas before deciding on one. I came back the next week and shot a video for them, which took less than two hours. They were in no rush so I took my time editing it. I spent maybe 10 hours editing it from my couch over the course of a few weeks in my spare time (there’s a lot more spare time during the baseball offseason). I delivered a fairly good-looking product IMO and they were very pleased.

Since then we’ve stayed in contact and I’ve reaped some non-monetary rewards from them as well. I spent ~13 hours doing work for free for a company in need and they were sincerely thankful for it. Maybe one day they’ll ask me back to do work for them again. I believe they would not ask for it to be free, even though I might do it for free again. Regardless, something much better happened.

I got a call this morning from them saying they referred me to a separate (and much larger) business. The gig is worth significantly more than a few 13-hour projects for a small business.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash by Pavel Voinov

Photo courtesy of Unsplash by Pavel Voinov

Why work for free?

Note: This section would become a grammatical train wreck if I don’t make it a list.

  1. Reel material – For anyone without a ton of non-school projects, this is important even if you don’t put much importance on a reel (I have a ton to say about the value of reels in a future post). Not only is the reel material useful but the real life interactions with clients gives you experience you can’t get in school. Just curious, any recent college grads out there reading this? Could you use more non-school projects on your reel?
  2. Try new things – Whenever I work for free I make sure to try out crazy shot angles and weird editing techniques. Most importantly I have fun with it. I can’t always enjoy the moment when time is tight and tensions are high during a shoot or when I’m in the editing bay for a paying client. I can do that with free work though. I hone my skills and experiment to better know what I can or cannot do when I’m doing a project for money.
  3. It feels good – Don’t undervalue this. It feels good to open up the world of video to a new person/company. It feels good to offer your services with no strings attached. It feels good because of point #4 below.
  4. They are thankful – I’m always a welcomed guest/patron for those that I do free work for. If I did bad work, I might not be so welcomed. But I strive to give them grade A work. Not only are they thankful but we usually become friends too. Also, you tend to get discounts/free goodies on occasion in return (I can’t count the amount of free beers I’ve had and free baseball games I’ve been to in return for doing various forms of free work).
  5. No taxes or paperwork – Do I need to say more about this?
  6. Referrals and future work – This is the most important one but the one you should worry about the least. Remember, you did this with no strings attached. Hopefully you’ll do future work for them. If they ask you to do it for free, you can if you want to reap any of the benefits above. Or you could tell them no. Or you could ask if they would pay you… Do not expect them to ever give you future work or refer you. You will only be let down if you do and they don’t do it. I’ve done free work and gotten future paid work from them. I’ve done free work and gotten referrals. I’ve been asked to work again for free. And I’ve also never heard from them again.

For the record, I have my day job from working for free. I taught Tae-Kwon-Do for many years for free at a free school my dad and I ran. Nearly a decade later I got a call from a man who we used to train. There was a need to create a video department at the company he was at. I’ve been running that video department now for a year and a half.

When I don’t work for free

  • Medium-Large Companies – They can probably afford it and if they can’t they are probably desperate (see the next bullet). If they get it for free they will expect it for free in the future from you or someone else and that is bad for the industry.  Imagine you work for a medium or large company and you got something for them for free. Isn’t your boss going to expect that the next time they want that same thing? What are you going to tell your boss? If you tell them, “we have to pay them now,” don’t you see them saying, “can’t you find someone else who will do it for free?”
  • Non-chill and/or desperate people – The success of the video should not make or break the company.
  • When I’m approached by them – If I’m approached about doing work by them I usually give them my rates. A third party telling me that they could use my help is different though. I must approach them about doing work. I’ve gone into projects with the intention of doing it for free then they ask me how much.
  • When it’s not fun
  • When it costs me money (outside of some minor expenses like gas or lunch)
  • When it doesn’t improve any situation – This can be social or my skillset. If I don’t find these people likeable and/or my skillset doesn’t improve, I’m not doing it. Example: If the people are borderline likeable and they want a talking head and for me to use some vertical b-roll their nephew shot, I’m not doing it.
  • When I can’t use them as a reference
  • When I can’t use the work or part of the work as an example of work I’ve done
  • When it’s not convenient – I will not work unless the timing is convenient for me. If I have a lot going on at home or at work, it’ll have to wait. They should understand and if they don’t, then they aren’t getting my free work.

Decide for yourself

You can easily get taken advantage of working for free. I hope this never happens to you but it can. It’s happened to me and that’s why I have such strict rules about when I choose to work for free. But working for free is really beneficial. You get to try new techniques, make new friends, get demo material and it feels really good.

You have to decide for yourself though. What’s your stance? Do you work for free? Why or why not?

If you think someone could benefit from this post do them a favor and share it! Make sure to sign up at the bottom of the page to receive email notifications when I come out with new posts. Most weeks I publish an in-depth post like this one on Wednesday and a quick video tutorial on Friday on my YouTube channel.