It’s been awhile since I’ve truly written something for EVF. Actually it’s been awhile since I’ve written much of anything. My writing muscle was burnt out after letting my former daily blog expire and disappear into a digital black hole back in August. Two years of writing and publishing everyday…
Fast forward a quarter of a year later and I’m starting to get the itch again. But where do I write? I’ve always felt that with what I publish on EVF I need to be very calculated and stick to the facts and provide “expert-level” insights at all times. Well, even though I believe myself to be a more-than-successful editor and video professional, I can’t always provide that A+, top-of-the-line content with the tiny amount of time I can commit to EVF.
With that being said, I’m just going to let the words keep on flowing and write a bit about editing and life.
BTW I’m free writing right now. It can be a lot of fun and almost meditative at times. You should try it out if you ever get in a creative funk. Please excuse any typos or poor grammar because I’m just churning out the words.
Recently I took a new full-time position. I haven’t really broadcasted this anywhere. Nick and I recorded a podcast episode the other day where I talked about it some. It hasn’t published yet but should be episode 82. I’m absolutely positive I won’t remember to come back to this post and link it. 🙂
My new position is part editor (let’s call this ~70% of my responsibilities), producer (~20%) and project manager (~10%). Full-time freelancing is officially done. For now. I loved my time freelancing. Loved it. Even the stressful times when I couldn’t guarantee more than a few hundred dollars of work on a given week. I can absolutely see myself going back to that lifestyle too.
This position though was too good to pass up. I enjoy the content, my coworkers and my day-to-day work. Plus the paid time off. Uhhh I’ve missed the paid time off so much. I’m only 8 years into this career. It feels like though that I could always go back to freelancing. And vice versa. Yes, it sucks losing out on some gigs. Last week I had to turn down two projects. My network will take some sort of hit. As a professional though I think we should always be working on and building our networks. I recorded this fantastic Command+Edit episode with my friend and fellow editor Rhonda Thain if you want to hear me talk more about it.
I still have a couple small projects I’m working on on the side. And a couple pet projects I want to take on. The experience of running my own company, getting an LLC, doing my bookkeeping each week, having a real accountant, cold emailing, warm calling, invoicing and just overall doing many, many uncomfortable things have made me a better editor, professional and person.
Remember, I’m still free writing here so I know I’m about to lurch into a new topic like an unexpected jumpcut.
The software I’m using now is relatively the same. I’m in Premiere probably 60% of the time. Media Composer 30% of the time. And After Effects and Photoshop round out the rest. I’m rocking Premiere 2017 on most projects with the hopes that no one accidently updates to 2018 forcing me to update as well. And MC is on version 8.5.2. It’s a little behind and I miss some of the cool new features I’ve been seeing but it definitely still gets the job done.
Okay last topic before cutting myself off.
Next month I’m headed out to Los Angeles for the first time! Crazy, right?! How have I never been? I’m pumped. I know I mentioned it in a somewhat recent Video Editor’s Digest but again for anyone out there I’m thinking of doing a small happy hour. Seriously small. Like 4-6 of us max. If you want to join shoot me a message.
Thank you for indulging me and letting me get some stuff off my chest. If like this kind of post — more chatty, less instructional — let me know. Or let me know if you hate it and I should stick to basic little video tutorials like this one which somehow has 100,000+ views. Wut?
Rachel Bastarache Bogan is the owner of Renegade Digital Post — a video editing company providing Hollywood-caliber services to filmmakers and content producers outside of Hollywood. In this interview, Nick and I find out Rachel’s strategies for working with new clients, how she finds clients not only locally but across the globe, and much more.
In this episode Nick and I bring our friend Twain Richardson on to guest as he tells us all about setting up a career right in the heart of Jamaica. Establishing oneself in a market where production is pretty sparse compared to the likes of LA and NY can be incredibly challenging. While most people feel the pressure to move to Hollywood to “go where the work is”, there are those who thrive where they are and set themselves as a niche service provider in the TV and commercial industry. I can relate immensely.
Here are some timecodes of the topics if you want to jump around:
~11:30 Introduction to Twain
~12:20 What is Jamaica’s client base like?
~13:58 Describing his workspace layout
~15:05 Twain’s origin story: go to work or go to school?
~19:09 Getting a mentor early in your career
~20:33 How do you tell a good story?
~21:19 Twain’s “Frame of Reference” site filled with valuable interviews with established editors
~25:58 The value of networking and asking questions from other editors out there; great lessons learned from talking with the pros
~31:20 Have you ever felt the pressure to relocate and why did you decide to stay put?
~33:43 Big differences in work environment depending where you are geographically – Are there still deadlines in Jamaica?
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.
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 😉).
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 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.
I got a chance to talk to the one and only Norman Hollyn. Norman is a professor of Cinematic Arts at USC and travels all around the world as an editing educator. Basically Norman is living my dream.
You can listen to our conversation below. In it we talk about his time teaching in Japan and all across the globe, how students of film and their editing styles differ from one country to another, how to manipulate your audience’s emotions and much, much more.
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 🙂
I took this picture of my dog the other day. It appears though that she stole my phone and took a selfie. I swear the world would be a better place if dogs could use phones and we could text our dogs while we were out of the home.
It was the last day in month of May in the year two thousand and seventeen. Alone in a cold edit bay on a warm sunny afternoon an editor watches a blue bar slowly move from left to right inside of a gray box. 47 minutes remaining. He thinks to himself, “I’ve been wanting to write on my business’ blog for weeks but haven’t found the time or self-awareness to actually do it. Maybe now’s a good time to try.”
And here we are. If I haven’t lost you yet I’d like to take the next thousand or so words to talk about what’s been going on with EVF, the podcast and my freelance editing work.
The online comedy show I’ve been working on for the past several months recently launched! The only editing left to do is a small change in one of the later episodes and the creation of some more marketing material for them. This project is so. darn. close. to being done.
Let’s have some #realtalk for a moment. I’ve been so close to this project that I find it really difficult to share it with the world. All I see is imperfections, shots I wanted reshot and lines of dialogue I want changed. But deep down I know it’s pretty darn good and about as good as I was ever going to get it based on the constraints I was working under. Warning: the comedy show is definitely PG13. Here’s their website where you can watch the first two episodes. (yes, I’m still terrified to share my work. I believe most editors get the same way too)
Here’s some more #realtalk. I screwed up my 2016 taxes. I thought I had nailed it back on April 15th. However I met with an accountant to talk about 2017 and while going through 2016 he found two fairly significant screw-ups. And they’re probably going to cost me a couple thousand dollars. Whoops. But we’re sorting it out and it’s better to get it done right than risk getting dinged later down the road. Needless-to-say I’m disappointed. It’s a learning experience that I’ll grow from though.
I was meeting with the accountant because I’m getting an LLC for my freelance business (which EVF will eventually reside under) and I wanted to see how my accounting would work with my new business. That’s when we discovered my mistakes in 2016. Anyway, back to the LLC. Getting an LLC is something I’ve been putting off. Why? It’s completely foreign to me. I hate things like legal paperwork (but who doesn’t?). As my freelance business matures I need to protect myself, “legitimize” myself and set it up in a way it can continue to grow. BTW, if you’re interested in the process for setting up an LLC let me know as I’m considering writing about my experience with it.
Oh, May marked the 1-year anniversary of going fully freelance. Woo!
Enough freelance. Let’s talk about the podcast.
This month’s episodes:
Command+Edit Episode 72: Nick and I interview Niel Guilarte of the All Things Post podcast about his documentary The Messengers that he directed and edited.
We currently have two interviews booked for June. One is with an editing educator about their time teaching editing overseas and the other is with a screenwriter.
In Command+Edit Episode 73 (above) I chatted with Avid about their upcoming Media Composer | First release. MC | First is basically a free, lite version of Media Composer. It sounds perfect for anyone interested in learning Media Composer but might not be ready to pull the trigger on a year-long subscription without first getting to know Media Composer a bit better (because let’s face it, Media Composer is a tough software to learn). I’m [highly] considering taking a dive deep into MC | First and creating some training material around it. However it depends on if there’s enough demand. If you’re remotely interested in MC | First and using resources (guides, courses, tutorials, blog posts, etc.) that I create to help you learn it, I’d really like to hear from you. All you have to do is reply to this email.
Here on the EVF website you may have noticed I switched themes! However in the process I accidentally deleted my homepage. Oops. I don’t mind because I wanted to overhaul it anyway. I’ll be doing some other minor updates around the site while I continue the painful process of switching hosting companies as well. All I want to do is create videos and write helpful things on the internet and it feels like there’s always a thousand other obstacles standing in the way!
Anyway, thank you so, so much for reading. Please give me a shout if there’s anything you’re struggling with and you think I could help or if you just want to chat post or baseball or dogs or travel or anything. 🙂
It’s been awhile since I’ve just sat down and written. I’m through with my third cup of bad Keurig coffee, this export from Media Composer has another 20 minutes and a blank page is in front of me so why not give this a shot?
I’ve been “gone” from Edit Video Faster officially since February 12th. Since then I:
Started a practice of learning a new language (Vietnamese) and
Been working my tail off seemingly 25 hours a day with freelance work.
Life just has. not. stopped. I’m sure you can relate.
#Freelancelife has been ever-consuming. I try to squeeze in an hour here and there. Go out for happy hour or dinner with friends then head to my iMac when I get back to make a quick revision and let something export overnight. This isn’t me complaining or whining. Quite the opposite. It’s kinda fun in a weird way.
Over the past 2ish months I’ve started a handful of small projects and, more importantly, two really big projects. The first large project is a massive training course in the healthcare field. Approximately 80-100 1-minute videos. Phew… FWIW I’m working in Premiere. This was my call and it’s odd to say that I choose Premiere over Media Composer. Why? Let’s admit it. Premiere still handles mixed media a lot better than MC, or at least it’s easier to get it in the NLE so you can begin cutting right away. My client is sending me all sorts of images, GIFs, .mpeg2s, .mp4s, .mp3s, etc. Everything is a different size or frame rate. Premiere just lets me edit. ::ducks under desks::
For this project I have to deliver a handful of videos each week. I’m maybe 25-30% done at the time of this writing.
The other big project is a comedy show! Which I don’t know how much I can talk about! So I’m just going to say that I have six episodes to cut along with all the marketing material. Currently one and a half episodes have been cut and we want to launch in early May. ?
In the coming weeks I’ll also be working on getting an LLC for my freelance business (which EVF will probably ultimately rest under). That’ll be an adventure in itself; or at least I’ve convinced myself that it will be. I’m thinking of writing a post on my process of getting an LLC. Would something like that interest you to read?
The next several weeks are going to be how the previous weeks were. Jam-packed with freelance work and life. Which is fun and interesting and TBH thrills me to be in the middle of. I just wish I had more hours in the day to commit to my other projects like this one or new projects I want to pursue. I’m attempting to figure it out though, as we all are.
I’m still unsure if or when I’ll be back with any regularly scheduled content here on EVF but I’m always here for you if you need anything.