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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

I Got A New Job!

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?

That’s it from me. Til next time…

– Josh

Straight Up Hard Work

I had to fire up my 11-year-old PowerBook G4 laptop in order to find this picture. Can’t believe that thing still works.

I had just turned 18. I was covered in a cold sweat from the February gymnasium air. I had my red, white and blue wrestling singlet on. My black Nike mesh shorts. My Asics black and white wrestling shoes tied way too tight like always. My headgear laid on the floor next to me as my head laid even lower.

A few minutes before I had lost my second match in the Virginia AA Wrestling Regionals. That meant I was out of the tournament and my four years of varsity wrestling was over. My 119lb body, which was north of 140lbs back in November, that could run 7 miles without being winded suddenly felt worn out.

As I sat on that floor so many emotions and memories ran through me. Anyone who has every knowingly competed in a sport for their final time can relate. When you are that deep into something you feel complete.

The amount of effort I put into wrestling was astronomical. Running literally an uncountable amount of laps in the hallways before practice. Up-downs. Monkey rolls. That stupid circle from Vision Quest where you got up and ran around all the guys laying down then the next guy got up where in my junior year one of the seniors accidently stepped on my ankle which was the only time I ever had to go to the trainer but I sucked it up and wrestled the rest of the season on it even though it was probably severely sprained or worse.

At that moment as I sat on that hard gym floor, my back against the cinder brick wall, I told myself I’d never do something like that to myself again. It felt like I was the most tired 18-year-old on the planet.

Sitting there felt like an eternity when it was probably less than a minute before my dad walked over. He nudged me with his foot. I looked up. “Want some pizza?” he asked.

I bit into my second slice of lukewarm Papa Johns off of the white paper plate we got at the concession stand in the hallway of a high school in Orange, VA. Never again I told myself.

Fast-forward, jump cut, wipe or cross-dissolve your way 12 years into the future. At almost 30 I consider myself successful. I’m college educated. I run a steady self-employed company. I write on multiple websites, podcast, have a fledgling YouTube channel, have the best wife and dog in the world, travel the world on occasion, get to see friends and family whenever I want, have no health concerns and overall a pretty happy guy.

Why does it feel like there’s constantly something missing?

I could be wrong. I could be 100% wrong about this whole thing. But I think I know what’s missing and it’s on that gym floor in the middle of Nowhere, Virginia lying next to my wrestling headgear.

It’s not the wrestling mat. It’s not sprawls or takedown drills or pushups (even though I still do at least 50 a day). It’s that all-in dedication to doing straight up hard work.

No one, at least no one I can imagine, vomits in the hallway trashcan after writing a blog post or recording a podcast. This stuff is still straight up hard work but of another kind.

Anyone can find 15 a day to write a blog post and publish it everyday for a year and a half like I have on my other site. That’s difficult and takes a hell of a lot of dedication. But it’s not like the straight up hard work that went into wrestling.

Anyone can find an hour or two a week to write a newsletter and cut a quick tutorial. It’s scary to put yourself out there to the world like that. But it’s not like the straight up hard work that went into wrestling.

What’s like wrestling is completing this massive list of unfinished projects or projects I haven’t even begun that I stare at everyday.

I haven’t been doing straight up hard work for you and I’m sorry. I can blame those early mornings before school sitting in the sauna at the community center a county over in order to cut weight. I can blame those offseason bleacher runs. I can blame any number of things or memories or the residual pain left in my right shoulder from this one match that took everything out of me but I won 2-1 in overtime, securing a tournament win for my team.

I haven’t been doing straight up hard work for you and I’m sorry.

I have no action plan. I have no idea where to begin. Outside of completing the above massive list of projects I don’t know what straight up hard work for Edit Video Faster even looks like. But I know it’s something that I have to do in order to feel whole, to feel complete again.

I’d love for you to stick around for this journey. If you’re new around here I recommend starting here.

If you have any thoughts to share or old wrestling stories leave them in the comments below or send me a private message here.

– Josh

Written Saturday January 7th, 2017 at 2:10am.

Okay, one more picture. I can’t help myself.

#first7jobs

first7jobs

Today it’s seemed like everyone has tweeted their #first7jobs. I of course joined the party.

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.

Making the Jump to Freelance

Hey there! In this vlog I talk about making the jump to becoming a freelance video editor. I talk about what’s going through my mind, how scary it is to become a freelancer and why I’m making this leap.

If you’re an editor, freelancer or not, I’d love to get your thoughts on this topic!

If you want to stay in touch and follow my progress make sure you’ve entered your email address here.

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

– 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

 

 

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!

12 Things I Wish I Knew About Being a Video Editor When I Was 22

Hey there! I tried something a little different for this video. It’s about the 12 things that I wish I knew about being a video editor when I was 22.

This style video is very new to me. If you liked it and want to see more let me know in the comments or by giving this video a thumbs up over on YouTube!

BTW, I recently started a fun weekly newsletter called the Video Editor’s Digest. In it you’ll get awesome tips, tricks, resources and news about video editing. I’d love for you to be a part of it. You can sign up here.

Finishing Strong to Start Stronger

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.

Read more

The Power of Presets for Avid Media Composer Editors

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/Toolsets

Workspaces are the arrangement of tools on the screen.

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.

02-AudioLink

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.

03-FullScreenSettingsIf 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.

Timeline Views

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.

04-Timeline

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.

Seriously though, if you’re interested in doing this (and you should be), read the aforementioned post.

Quick Transitions

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.).

05-QuickTransitionsPreset

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.

Get a head start on creating your bin with 50+ preset Quick Transitions here!

Export Settings

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?

06-ExportSettings01

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.).

 

Summing Up

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.

See you on Friday with a new tutorial!