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Category: Time Management (page 1 of 4)

The most difficult part about mastering a skill

Time for a little free writing session…

There are an infinite amount of projects one can work on. New project after new project pop into our heads and we want to pursue each one. So we start down a path hoping to make this one great thing. But then a new idea pops in our heads for something completely different. Ahead, the path we’re currently on seems shrouded in mystery and overgrown with bushes and thrones. So we backtrack and start down a new path.

Path through the woods

Photo by Zack Silver courtesy of Unsplash

We get far enough down this new path when the same thing happens. Maybe we go a little further this time before starting something new. Maybe we stop at the first bend in the road or rain cloud in the sky. Time for a new path.

The hardest thing about accomplishing a project or completing a goal or mastering a skill is staying on that same path regardless of obstacles.

A path I recently vacated was learning Vietnamese. I reached a point in my Mango lessons where it was too difficult to retain the information in the time I was allowing myself to focus on the mission. My willpower was gone and I have zero guidance. I quit. I gave up. It got too hard. The thrones were too much to take. Read more

How Video Editors Get Paid — Command+Edit Podcast Episode 82

Hey there!

In this episode of the Command+Edit Podcast Nick and I discuss the most important topic when it comes to freelance video editing…how to get paid!

Topics include what software and services we use to invoice, how to invoice, how we accept payments, how long it takes to get paid, whether you need to have an LLC in order to freelance and taxes in the US and Canada.

As a reminder neither Nick or I am a tax professional or financial advisor by any stretch of the imagination. What we talk about is based solely our experience as two freelance video editors.

Some items mentioned in the episode include:

If you enjoyed this conversation and want to stay in touch whenever I come out with a new post / podcast / video / newsletter / etc. you can go here to signup. No spam. Ever. Just the good stuff 🙂

– Josh

Music in this episode was from Soundstripe. Use the code EVF for 10% off!

Please note some of the links above are affiliate links. This means if you purchase something through them I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you.

The Creation Cycle of a Video Editing Project

You probably don’t edit airport employee training videos. You probably don’t edit online marketing videos for healthcare startups. You probably don’t edit small-budget YouTube comedy series. These are all types of videos I edit. They all have different audiences, goals and styles. Each video contains unique challenges and are different in so many ways from one another. One thing is the same though — the creation cycle.

For just about every video I edit I go through the exact same routine. In this post I’m going to explain what that process is.

I could write about pre-production for hours but I’m going to start from after the footage is shot and we’re in post. Let’s get into it!

The Creation Cycle of a Video Editing Project

Phase 1: Pre-Production in Post Production

Before I begin what many would call “the actual editing” of a video there’s a lot that takes place. The time you spend right now in this phase will reap more benefits than time spent in any other phase. You will in all likelihood edit video faster with more time spent working on the tasks in this phase. It’s kinda like pre-production but you’re already in post.

Review pre-production notes

Read over any notes you have from the client/producer/director/whoever on the goals, audience, specifics, branding guidelines, must-haves, must-have nots, etc. of the video. Alternatively if possible you should talk to the client/producer to go over these details again. Things change during production and sometimes you’re left out of the loop. Tackle any possible surprises ASAP! Read more

Premiere Pro Tips That’ll Save You Hours — Command+Edit Podcast Episode 81

Hey there!

Nick and I are back for a brand new Command+Edit Podcast episode that’ll give you a ton of useful, time-saving Adobe Premiere Pro tips that you may never have heard before.

Some of the tips in this episode:

  • Quickly soloing/muting tracks
  • Update colors of clips in bins onto timeline
  • PDF Viewer Plugin
  • Trim to Playhead
  • New Search Bin Query
  • See how often a clip is used and where it’s used across a project
  • Pancake Timeline Wacom Macro Hack

Other links and more episodes over on the Cmd+Edit site.

If you enjoyed this conversation and want to stay in touch whenever I come out with a new post / podcast / video / newsletter / etc. you can go here to signup. No spam. Ever. Just the good stuff 🙂

– Josh

Music in this episode was from Soundstripe. Use the code EVF for 10% off!

Please note some of the links above are affiliate links. This means if you purchase something through them I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you.

What is an After Effects Template?

“Hey…how’d you make that so fast?” a voice asked from over my shoulder.

It was an editor at one of the companies I freelance at. I removed my headphones and swiveled my chair. “Ah, you mean this transition?”

“No, like the whole thing. The graphics, the camera movements, …” I sensed confusing under his breath.

“Oh! This After Effects template?”

He raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean by…template?”

“Yeah I just grabbed this thing online and it has everything in it.”

“OMG MAGIC THAT’S THE COOLEST THING EVER!” Okay, he didn’t actually say that but his jaw just about hit the ground. He had never heard of an After Effects template.

If you’ve been reading lately then you know I’m trying to run with this theme of “you don’t know what you don’t know”. Let’s file this post under that theme. There is no dumb question and if you’re an “advanced editor” reading a post that’s designed for new editors feel free to stop reading here and go yell about LUTs or something on Reddit.

In this post I’m going to explain what an After Effects template is, some of their benefits, some of their downsides and where you can get them.

Alright. Let’s jump into it.

What is an After Effects Template?

An After Effects template is a pre-built After Effects project (.aep) that is made in a way so you can pop in your assets (i.e. footage, logo, headshots, etc.) and create a video in record speed. After Effects templates can be entire explainer videos, typography videos, logo opens, title packages, green screen virtual sets, infographics, etc. etc. And I’ve used just about all of them.

For example, let’s take a look at this After Effects template. And now let’s take a look at what I made it into.

To get an After Effects template go to one of the sites I’ll list below, pick one out, purchase it, download it, watch/read the tutorial, open up the .aep, and get to work. There are usually a handful of places to check out when you first jump into a project like compositions titled “CHANGE LOGO HERE” or “INSERT COMP1 FOOTAGE HERE”. Also look for layers titled, “CHANGE COLORS HERE” and typically you select the layer and there are parameters you can adjust in the Effects Controls Panel.

It kind of goes without saying but you need a license of Adobe After Effects in order to use an After Effects template. Most templates are backwards compatible for a few versions. If you have any CC version than you are most likely fine. It should say somewhere on the website what minimum version of AE you need though.

How I work is once I open up the .aep I find the MASTER comp or the RENDER ME comp (it’s typically labeled something like that) then work my way backwards through the precomps to see how everything works together. Then I get to work.

Here are a couple screenshots of what a typical project looks like when you open it up:

This is basically what you can expect to find when you open an AE template

This is a basic example of what one of the comps *could* look like. Daunting, huh?

This is an example of what the Project Panel could look like. Fairly self-explanatory?

Benefits of Using After Effects Templates

Let’s bullet point this out.

  • They save you time. A lot of time usually. This is by far their biggest selling point. I’ll ballpark it that 30-50% of a project can be completed right off the bat just by using one.
  • They give you boundaries to work in. I was using the AE template in the little story in the intro to this post because I needed a starting point for this project. I literally had free rein to do anything I wanted which is great until you find yourself with no place to start. So I picked this AE template in order to have some basic constraints for the project, which got the ball rolling.
  • You learn how others use After Effects. AE is incredibly deep and editors can do one thing a dozen different ways. You will generally always learn a new tip or trick or just go, “oh, so they did it like that?” at least once. A lot of us don’t get to work with other editors and seeing another editor’s project is rare. This gives you a glimpse into how others work.

30-50% of a project can be completed right off the bat just by using one.

Downsides of Using After Effects Templates

  • They give you boundaries to work in. Yes, I know I just listed this as a benefit. The boundaries are great sometimes but will give you massive headaches other times because they aren’t always easy to modify. Quick example… Let’s say you want to change the length of a precomp. Cool. You go into the Composition Settings (Cmd/Ctrl+K), change the time then extend all the layers. Oh wait. They used a 10-second .mov for one of the background elements and it doesn’t loop and when you change the speed it looks weird… See where I’m getting at? Also, having a picky client can be tricky. Oh, they want all the squares made into circles? Yeah…that’s probably not going to happen.
  • You don’t truly know how easy it will be to manipulate an AE template until you buy it. This is piggybacking on my last point. Make sure to read the reviews if available. A lot of them are really easy to use. However I’ve found that you can also get some lemons every once in awhile.
  • Cost. Yes, they most of the time they cost real cash. Expect to spend $15-$45.
  • Tutorials are typically lacking in substance and quality. About half the time you’ll get a video that will [sloppily] walk you through how to change different elements (colors, insert logos, etc.). The other half of the time you’ll probably have a .pdf that probably isn’t worth reading IMO. Jump in and dig around to figure stuff out.
  • The music generally does not come packaged with the AE template. Most of the time when you watch the preview there’s this nice song or sound effects that go along with it. Yeah, these aren’t included. Most of the time they are linked on the website where you buy the AE template. FWIW I get most of my music through Soundstripe (affiliate link) (p.s. You can use the coupon code EVF for 10% off 😉).

Where to Get After Effects Templates

If you have other places you like to get After Effects templates leave them in the comments!

Putting It All Together

An After Effects template is a wonderful tool you can use to spark creativity, give you a jumpstart on a project and teach you new things about such an in-depth software. However they cost money and can occasionally be difficult to adjust to your needs.

I recommend trying one out if you haven’t before. Occasionally the sites listed above will have massive sales or do something like give away a free AE template of the month. Take advantage of those if you have a chance.

I hope you found this article helpful. I have a ton of posts and tutorials coming up in the queue once I can get a couple more freelance projects off my back. If you’re new around here and want to stay up-to-date with the latest on EVF go here and you’ll never miss out on posts like this one.

– Josh

What are MXF Files?

This video explains what MXF Files are and how Avid Media Composer uses them.

This lesson is taken out of the Media Management Fundamentals for Avid Media Composer course I am putting together. If you want to stay up-to-date on it’s progress sign up here.

And if you ever have a question or just want to talk editing (or baseball!) shoot me an email — josh@editvideofaster.com.

– Josh



Understanding Workflows: A Tale from the Edit Bay

Understanding Workflows - A Tale from the Edit Bay

Last week you watched me speak about the importance of media management. Media management encompasses many aspects of video editing including workflows. Workflows, a set process on how to do something, are something I live by.

Workflows take all the mystery and thinking out of doing something. Boring? Maybe. Effective? Ab-so-[expletive]-lutely.

Set a workflow for something like exporting and do it the same way every single time. Do this because 1) it works, 2) you don’t have to think about how to do it each time and 3) there are less errors because the variables of the problem never change. You go to export and you have settings saved and you put the QuickTime Movie into a specific folder then open up compression software and add the specific compression codec to it and export the file to a set folder with a set naming convention and everything just becomes so much easier.

I have a quick story of a time when someone I know didn’t understand or use the established workflow. They were lazy and it came back to bite them when time was of the utmost importance.

When Workflows Aren’t Your Thing

When you join a company there are generally workflows already in place. You have your own for what you used to do but now that you are part of a new team you have to use theirs or morph theirs to fit yours. You can’t just continue to have it the way you are used to when you are using different equipment, have different deliverables and just flat out do different work.

I’m an early bird and had already left for the day. Someone on the team needed to shoot and edit a patch into an already existing video. It was urgent. That someone was new-ish to the team but was fully capable of doing it, plus it was their project to begin with. However over the past several months they had not taken the time to learn the workflows even though the team had been urging them to.

They had to use the company camera instead of their own. Then I start getting the frantic texts. “How do I get the footage off the card?!” I tried to walk them through it but I’m in line at Target and there’s only so much I could do before they got frustrated and gave up.

Then the complaints started. “Why is this so difficult?” “I can’t believe [camera company] hasn’t made this simpler!” Sigh. There is an established specific workflow for this. It’s not the easiest thing in the world but once you do it 5-10 times and understand what is happening between the cards and NLE you just “get it” and you never have to change the way you ingest media again. I had tried to show them this numerous times. Workflows just weren’t their thing…

They decide to break protocol; break the workflow that has worked for years. Eventually they figure out how to get the footage off the card but in a way that I nor anyone else on the team can ever repeat or help with (the standard NLE wasn’t even used!). They’re now on an island with this project and worked absurdly late into the night but it all could have been avoided.

Understand then Implement

To create workflows that work you need to first understand why. You need to understand why things work in certain ways with your NLE. Then you can start implementing them and over the course of a year (or a career) you’ll save an incredible amount of time and effort.

If you enjoyed this post and want to stick around for what’s next I’d love for you to go here so we can stay in touch. Next week I’ll dive into some of the X’s and O’s and why things work they way they do for managing media in Avid Media Composer.


Why Media Management is Important

Media Management is one of the *most* important parts to being a video editor. In this video I’ll explain why.

So…Media Management. How important is it to you? Leave a thought in the comments please!

EVF Tutorial – Template Sequence in Avid Media Composer

This tutorial will walk you through how to create a template sequence in Avid Media Composer. You’ll learn how to create a new sequence, add video tracks, add audio tracks, rename tracks and more so you can reuse the sequence over and over.

Useful link from the tutorial:

Leave a comment if you have any questions or shortcuts to add of your own!

Mastering Avid Media Composer’s Keyboard Shortcuts – Lesson 8: Timeline

Mastering Media Composers Keyboard Shortcuts – Lesson 8

This is the eight lesson in a series on mastering Avid Media Composer’s keyboard shortcuts. Each lesson tackles a handful of shortcuts. By the end of all the lessons you should be flying through your editing sessions.

This isn’t just any old list of shortcuts. For many of them I explain exactly how they work and how I use them everyday as a professional editor.

If you’re just getting started, no worries. You can take this lesson and circle back to the previous lessons. You can find all the lessons here.

This lesson focuses on the timeline.

Lesson 8: Timeline

Lesson 8: Timeline

Hey real quick. If you missed my announcement about the Mastering Avid Media Composer’s Keyboard Shortcuts Exam, you can find it here!


The timeline is where all the magic happens in Media Composer. The shortcuts that follow will speed up your editing, guaranteed. One of my favorite milestones when I was learning Media Composer was when I started incorporating all the different zooming options available. I found myself flying through my edits faster each day as I got more comfortable with them. The shortcuts in this lesson are some of my favorites. Alright, here we go!

More Detail (Zoom In)

Shortcut: Cmd+] (Mac) | Ctrl+] (PC)

This shortcut will zoom the timeline in. Use this instead of the zoom bar at the bottom of timeline. For what it’s worth, I prefer to change this to Shift+].

Less Detail (Zoom Out)

Shortcut: Cmd+[ (Mac) | Ctrl+[ (PC)

This shortcut will zoom the timeline out. Use this instead of the zoom bar at the bottom of timeline. For what it’s worth, I prefer to change this to Shift+[.

One other note. I will quickly hit Cmd/Ctrl+[ then Cmd/Ctrl+] to re-center my timeline. When you use the shortcut for More Detail or Less Detail the timeline re-centers around where the Time Position Indicator (the blue bar in the timeline) is. This is quicker than reaching over to the mouse and pulling the scroll bar at the bottom of the timeline.

Show Entire Sequence

Shortcut: Cmd+/ (Mac) | Ctrl+/ (PC)

If you’re zoomed in, this shortcut will zoom you out to show the entire sequence. I like to change this to Shift+\ so it’s next to what I changed More Detail and Less Detail to.

Zoom In To…

Shortcut: Cmd+M (Mac) | Ctrl+M (PC)

When you hit this shortcut your mouse will change to two arrows facing opposite directions with a rectangle in the middle. Decide where you want to zoom in and where you initially click that’ll be the start of the new timeline view and while holding the mouse down drag to where you want the new timeline view to end.

I love this shortcut. I change this shortcut to Shift+= so it’s near my other timeline zoom shortcuts.

Zoom Back

Shortcut: Cmd+J (Mac) | Ctrl+J (PC)

After performing a Zoom In To… if you use the Zoom Back shortcut you’ll change the timeline view back to what the view was before you did the Zoom In To…

Make Selected Track(s) Larger

Shortcut: Cmd+L (Mac) | Ctrl+L (PC)

This is similar to the Bin shortcut in Lesson 7 where you can make the frame larger. Whatever track(s) is selected (aka active) when you use this shortcut the track will grow in height. This only affects your view of the timeline and doesn’t affect any of the clips. Also, think “L for larger.”

Make Selected Track(s) Smaller

Shortcut: Cmd+K (Mac) | Ctrl+K (PC)

Whatever track(s) is selected (aka active) when you use this shortcut the track will shrink in height. This only affects your view of the timeline and doesn’t affect any of the clips.

Create New Video Track

Shortcut: Cmd+Y (Mac) | Ctrl+Y (PC)

This shortcut creates a new video track. If you only have tracks V1 and V2, using this shortcut will create V3. Use it again to create V4.

Create New Mono Audio Track

Shortcut: Cmd+U (Mac) | Ctrl+U (PC)

This shortcut creates a new mono audio track.

Create New Stereo Audio Track

Shortcut: Cmd+Shift+U (Mac) | Ctrl+Shift+U (PC)

This shortcut creates a new stereo audio track.

Create New Video or Audio Track at Custom Track Number


Shortcut: Cmd+Opt+Y or Cmd+Opt+U (Mac) | Ctrl+Alt+Y or Ctrl+Alt+U (PC)

If you want to create a new track at a custom track number, use this shortcut. For example if you have V1 and V2 as video tracks but want to create V9, use this shortcut. A box will pop up for you to select what kind of track and what track number to put it on.

Snap to Head Frames

Shortcut: Cmd+Drag (Mac) | Ctrl+Drag (PC)

Hold Cmd/Ctrl and drag the mouse across the timeline. This will snap the Time Position Indicator to head frames (the first frame of a clip). This is another shortcut that I absolutely love.

Snap to Tail Frames

Shortcut: Cmd+Opt+Drag (Mac) | Ctrl+Alt+Drag (PC)

Hold Cmd+Opt/Ctrl+Alt and drag the mouse across the timeline. This will snap the Time Position Indicator to tail frames (the last frame of a clip).

What’s Next?

That’s all the shortcuts for Lesson 8 of Mastering Avid Media Composer’s Keyboard Shortcuts. What’d you think? Learn anything new?

Give me a shout if you have any questions. Leave me a comment below, message me through the contact page or send me an email – josh [at] editvideofaster.com.

One last thing! Don’t forget the pre-sale for the Mastering Avid Media Composer’s Keyboard Shortcuts Exam ends tomorrow January 22nd at 11:59PM EST! Find out more here.

See you with our last lesson soon!

– Josh