Being a video editor is no easy task. It’s like trying to do a 1,000 piece puzzle with 10,000 pieces but without seeing the box so you don’t know what you’re supposed to be making. And 3,000 of the pieces actually work for 900 of the pieces you need but you have no pieces for the other 100 pieces so you have to cram them together to complete your puzzle. Then you get asked to change the border of one of the sides but you only have middle pieces left. But you figure it out anyway because that’s what you do. Then you start work on the next puzzle.
This article will discuss the six skills every video editor needs to have in order to have a successful career, create powerful videos, and stay sane while doing it.
Please note: some links in this article are affiliate links. All that means is I receive a small commission if you were to buy something after clicking on the link at no extra expense to you. It’s a very standard internet practice for blogs and websites and helps to support Edit Video Faster. I never link to a product I haven’t used or would not recommend. Always happy to answer any questions you have about affiliate links in general or the products linked to below!
The Art of the Edit
Every video editor needs to know how editing actually works. An editor should know when to cut and when to let the shot linger. They need to know the rules and how to follow them. But at the same time they need to know when and how to break them.
“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”
There are 4 things I’ve blown off doing this afternoon/evening that were marked on my calendar. That’s a problem. A calendar should be a sacred thing. Something shouldn’t go on your calendar if it can move. Once you put it on your calendar you execute whatever it is no matter what.
It stems from me not doing my weekly review this past Sunday or the Sunday before then for that matter.
The first thing on my calendar for this afternoon was to do my weekly review, even though it’s not Sunday. I know that the weekly review is my way of getting organized mentally and digitally for the upcoming week. Without it…not much gets done. I’m lost. There are too many uncompleted tasks sitting in the tool I use to organize everything. My calendar is as strong as a wet paper towel.
Okay, so what’s a weekly review? Without going too far into the weeds, I roughly follow the “Getting Things Done” method of productivity/organization. And the tool I use to organize it all is called OmniFocus. I have both the desktop and mobile version because I’m a psycho.
Wayyy back when I wrote a post called something like, “Done is Better than Perfect”. The TL;DR of it was that most of the time getting a video project out the door and delivered is better than having a perfect video project. Getting your video over to your client, director, producer, or audience is more important than having the video be 100% flawless.
The perfect video project simply doesn’t exist (unless you count Interstellar which by all accounts is the greatest movie ever made 😉). There will always be adjustments you could make. There could always be shots that need more color correction. More audio that needs sweetening. Different pacing, shot selection, etc. The thing about videos is that we’re making a 1,000-piece puzzle with 10,000 pieces while not being able to see the box to see what we’re supposed to be creating.
(Sorry for the clickbait-y title… I’m rusty at writing good, catchy titles)
It’s early in 2019. The confetti is still falling. Most of us are back to the office. Ready or not it’s time to begin another year in our careers. Another year of our lives.
Looking back at 2018 maybe there was something you didn’t do. Something you didn’t learn. Or something you didn’t accomplish. A project, a habit, a new NLE to master, a documentary to edit. So we look to 2019 as our saving grace. We have a whole fresh calendar for us to get X done. And that fills us with a glimmer of hope. That we can make that change this year. Heck, we have 12 whole months.
As the confetti is swept up and the hangovers from NYE are cured, we head back to the edit bay or cubical or home office. We got this in 2019. Then…we check our email.
One of my first seven jobs was at a CD store while I was in college. Yes kids, music used to be played on CDs and you purchased them at the mall. Well I only lasted three days there. It seemed like a couple people wanted to know more so instead of finishing the draft I wrote a couple days ago I want to write about why I only lasted three days.
I was a sophomore in college. It was fall semester and I was looking for a part-time gig. There was a new CD store opening up at the local mall so I went in to apply. Fast forward a day or two and I got a call asking to come in for my first day. I didn’t even get interviewed which I found very odd…
My first two days were okay. The store wasn’t open yet. I spent the eight-hour shifts stocking shelves and organizing CDs, cassette tapes and DVDs. It was boring and the coworkers were not fun. This was a stark difference from any other job I had ever had.
Over the summer I had spent it working construction with my best friend and my dad each weekday then each weeknight and all weekend my best friend and I went and worked at the same restaurant. I had the time of my life. Somehow I also started dating my wife that summer while I was working 80-90hour weeks. Oh to have the energy of a teenager again…
Okay, back to the CD store. I was bored out of my mind. I was getting paid minimum wage. But I have a strong work ethic and had never quit anything before. I was determined to stick it out for the semester.
The store opens and I have my third day of work. I get trained on the computer to check out customers for maybe 10 minutes. I go through my shift and it wasn’t that bad. I was feeling more optimistic. Talking to customers was something I enjoyed since the coworkers weren’t much for company. Then I turned in my register and I went through the paperwork with the manager. What he told me next floored me.
After looking through my numbers, which all checked out, he told me one of my metrics was poor. The metric was amount of items sold per customer. I needed it to be higher. Why? So this store could hit their own numbers so probably the managers could get a bonus. And his solution??
He walked over to the front of the cash register. There was a “CD opener” (it’s like this piece of plastic with a tiny blade). He told me that whenever an older woman is checking out that I need to push them to buy one of these in order to make my numbers. This wasn’t like a pep talk requesting me to get my numbers up. This was a 40-year-old man angrily requesting me to target little old ladies to get them to spend an extra $1.50 on something they didn’t need in order for him to make more money.
I nodded but internally I was feverously shaking my head. That weekend I had went back home for some reason. I told my dad what happened and that morally this was wrong (because it was a POS product being used to target an audience that I respect). And I asked if he’d be disappointed if I quit. He didn’t raise me to be a quitter.
What he told me next I’ve carried with me through every professional venture I’ve done. He told me that if a job makes you question your morals than it isn’t for you. And that it’s not quitting if it’s the right thing to do.
So once I got back to school I said sayonara to the CD store and didn’t look back.
Three days and I knew this wasn’t for me. In your professional life you should never be put in a situation that makes you question your morals. If this is the case think on it. It’s not quitting if it’s the right thing to do.
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.
For someone who loves to write about time management, I’ve sure had a heck of a time doing it well lately. I started writing this post at exactly 9:07 on Saturday night. I had been working on my big secret project since about 1:00 that afternoon. Let’s pick it up from there…
By the way, I finally announce my project so keep reading!
There are 10,000 posts like “The Top-8 Ways to Tackle Your New Year’s Resolutions” streaming through your social media timelines and inboxes right now. This post is not one of them. This short post is to tell you that you can do whatever you want to do and give you a quick tip on succeeding in whatever goals you have whenever you have them.
Presets will make you a faster editor. Period. Putting systems in place for often-used tasks makes you a more efficient editor. Presets are some of these systems. You can preset many aspects of your NLE, especially Avid Media Composer. Below I discuss four of my favorite areas you can use presets.
This post focuses on presets in Avid Media Composer but some concepts should be able to cross over into other NLEs like Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro X.
Workspaces are preset arrangements of your tools on the screen.
There are 3-5 Workspaces (sometimes referred to as Toolsets – different but essentially the same thing which I’m not going to get into today) you should customize, save and map to your keyboard. These are preset arrangements of your tools on the screen.
The first is obviously Source/Record Editing. This is your bread and butter Workspace, which you’ll most likely spend the bulk of your time in. You use it for your standard editing – laying in shots, moving them around, manipulating time, etc. Why do you map this to your keyboard? Anytime you are done in another Workspace or you have random tools open, this will put you back in your default editing setup.
If you want the Timecode Tool, Markers, Audio Tool and Audio Mixer open while you are editing in this Workspace like I do, make sure the Source/Record Editing Workspace is selected under Windows > Workspaces. Then open all the tools you want and position them on your screen and hit Save Current under that same menu.
If you want to see a tutorial over on my YouTube channel let me know in the comments section!
Audio Editing is the next Workspace to setup. Besides setting up my audio tools where I want them, I like to tie this together with my Audio Timeline View, which will be discussed in the next section. To do this, go up to Windows > Workspaces > Properties… then type in “Audio.” If you have a Timeline View named “Audio” it’ll automatically switch to that view.
Color Correction is another Workspace that should be setup. I’ve found that the only real things you need to adjust are the location of the monitors and Color Correction Tool along with what goes into the monitors by default. I tend to like having the left monitor being set to Previous, the middle monitor set to Current and the right monitor set to RGB Parade.
If you don’t have a traditional confidence monitor or work solely on a laptop/single monitor system like I do at times, the Full Screen Playback Workspace should be mapped to your keyboard. FYI – sometimes Full Screen Playback won’t run on the monitor you want it to if you are running two screens or switch between 1-2 screens often. If that happens, go to Settings > Full Screen Playback. Then move the dialog box to the monitor you want to be full screen. Then click Select Monitor and click OK.
The last Workspace you might want to setup is Effects Editing. To be honest, I don’t use this. I have my Effect Editor positioned in my Source/Record Editing Workspace. Do this by opening the Effect Editor, save the current Workspace, close the Effect Editor then save the current Workspace again. This tells Avid Media Composer “I want this tool positioned here but don’t want it open when I activate this Workspace.” From there, I map Effect Editor to my keyboard always staying in the Source/Record Editing Workspace with it open. The advantages of having the Effects Editing Workspace setup is that you might want more room for your monitors or the Effect Editor than you would with the Source/Record Editing Workspace. For me, I don’t find it that useful but you might.
When you jump on someone else’s User Settings the first difference you’ll notice is their Timeline View if they have one setup. Some like to drag the timecode track between the video and audio tracks. You’ll definitely notice if they color their tracks differently (I like pale yellow-orange for video tracks and a light blue for audio). However you want to stylize your timeline view it’s up to you – just make it efficient for your workflow.
There are four basic timeline views that I use and firmly believe every editor should use as well. Those are: Default, Audio, Tiny and Big/Stringout.
I wrote a post over on ScreenLight’s blog some time ago where I go into detail on each one and how to manipulate your timeline for each workflow. The gist of it is to change the track sizes, color and pick the data shown then save it at the bottom of the timeline.
Quick Transitions are great if you use any transition frequently, which I assume you do. This is the dialogue box that pops up with you hit the \ key to set your dissolves. Media Composer comes with Dissolve, Film Dissolve, Film Fade, Fade to Color and a few others as defaults. But do you know you can add your own?
Create a bin labeled exactly Quick Transitions. Then drop in your own transitions (wipes, flashes, etc.).
This Friday I’ll be announcing the first ever product for Edit Video Faster. It’s a bin full of over 50 preset Quick Transitions. You can get it along with more information here. On Friday I’ll be coming out with an in-depth tutorial on my YouTube channel on how to setup your own custom Quick Transitions Bin. You can find that tutorial here.
Each and every time you export a file from Media Composer you should save an Export Setting if it’s something different than you already have. Why? You can export a QuickTime movie at least a thousand different ways but you might not remember every detail (frame rate, key frames, compression type, etc.) of the handful of types of .movs you use.
Why try to remember every detail if you can save the settings with a detailed name each time?
When you export, click on Options under Export Settings. Adjust the parameters for your export then click Save As… Give it a unique name – ex: QT 1920×1080 30fps or QT-HQ-WebDeliveryForCompression. Next time you go to export you can find that setting in the drop down menu and won’t have to change any parameters. You can do this for any file that Media Composer exports (.pngs, .wavs, etc.).
Presets save you loads of time and only take a few minutes to setup. Workspaces, Timeline Views, Quick Transitions and Export Settings all do this. What are your favorite presets to create in Avid Media Composer or your NLE of choice?
Lastly – if you want to get a jumpstart on your Quick Transitions bin, head on over to this page. It’s simple, affordable and only takes a few minutes until you have 50+ preset Quick Transitions.
Quick Update: Phew. I’ve been on the road the past few days and I’m so glad to be back at home and back on my normal schedule consisting of 5:00am alarm clocks instead of 3:30am alarm clocks. Last week I started building my first product for EVF and finished it up this week. There’s just some testing to do and some other things to get setup on the backend. More on all this next week. Until then let’s talk about something that can often be overlooked but has the potential to return huge results.
This morning I was racking my brain on some ways I could deliver exceptional, unexpected customer service for this awesome client I’m finishing up with. I thought I could share them with you and get your thoughts as well. Some I’ve done, some I’ve been on the receiving end of and some I just thought of.
Providing exceptional customer service, especially when it is unexpected, is a sure-fire way for a client to remember you. Most of the time we’re worried about hitting our deadlines. This is vitally important as well but don’t forget about treating the client better than they expect. Not only will they be pleased but also they’ll be more apt to work with you in the future and recommend you to their friends. Now let’s get to the list. #4 is my favorite!
What’s your favorite way to provide exceptional, unexpected customer service? Photo courtesy of Dogancan Ozturan via Unsplash