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.
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 fasterwith 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
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.
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.
I, like the majority of video editors I know and meet, am prone to shyness. As I write this I’m too scared to say “good morning” to the woman I sit next to on the bus at least twice a week for the past year. My commuter bus etiquette might not interest you but did you know that your shyness could be costing you hours of unneeded time in the edit bay?
I’ll explain that along with some other ways I try to fight my own shyness syndrome in the post below.
Shyness in Post
I enjoy the solace of my edit bay like you do. I’m away from others. Just me, some Bon Iver or Greensky Bluegrass and my project. I can focus on my work without any distractions. This is never an issue until it’s time to leave my cozy, secluded world. My mind is stuck on the edit rather than communicating with producers/directors/clients.
Issues from Not Speaking Up
There are a number of issues that arise from scenarios when you do not speak up.
I don’t know how many times I didn’t speak up during pre-production and it bit me in the ass later. To this day I struggle with it but know it’s better to speak my mind than wait until I’m in post production and this scene isn’t going to work and we can no longer shoot. When there are concerns during pre-production, speakup! Yes, it sucks always being the Debbie Downer but in the end it’ll be less work for you.
An hour in pre-production saves two in post. Are you prepared? Photo courtesy of Unsplash by Mario Calvo
“An hour in pre-production saves two in post,” is one of my favorite sayings.
Whether you are editing or shooting and editing (and producing, directing, etc.), this post is for you. Spending time planning, scripting, brainstorming and storyboarding will significantly decrease the time you spend in post production.
I have been on the winning and losing side of being prepared and not being prepared. Below are some strategies I use in pre-production to save time in post production along with some victories and mistakes I’ve made.
Whenever possible do a site survey. Canvass the area that’s going to be shot. As far as production goes, check for access to outlets, sunny windows and those typical production-related items. For you the editor, speak up if you have concerns. Is the busy road going to cause you trouble in post? If so, can you move that shot further away? Is there a logo of some sort that’s going to be in the background that you’ll have to blur out? Change the shot or at least you’re prepared in post and won’t be swearing at the videographer.
Recently I had an emergency video that I had to shoot, edit and publish in an hour (crazy, I know). There was only one spot I could shoot in. It had overhead lights and a bright, sunny window with no blinds to one side. I had no time to strike lights and all I had in my camera bag was a green screen. I clipped the green screen across the window to diffuse some of the light. I had my PA sit in the chair and it looked pretty good, or so I thought.
I shot the quick video with the talent who had a shiny, bald head. I didn’t notice the problem during the shoot because I was in such as rush. When I got to my laptop and plugged in the SD card I saw it… a green glow on his head. If I had spent 2 more minutes setting up I would have noticed this and could have gotten access to a white screen. Instead I was in a rush and had to spend the rest of the dwindling minutes trying to color correct the guy’s head.
Everyone Reads the Script
The scriptwriter, shooter, editor, producer, director and especially client must read the script before shooting. The more eyes on it the better. You will catch mistakes. This might cause a couple extra rounds of revisions, and piss off whoever wrote it, but it’s better that the client realizes they want one more executive interviewed then than 4-weeks later when you deliver the fine cut.
As the editor you want to read the script so that there are no surprises. Was something marked saying that you’ll create some elaborate animation that’s way out of your abilities? Plan ahead. Tell them you can’t do it, need extra time or they’ll have to hire a freelancer. You can also start laying shots out in your head. If you realize that a nice CU of a smile or someone’s eyes would look good there, ask for it to be included in the shot list.
Years ago my old production manager and I started forcing our team to have pre-production meetings (what a novel idea!). Even though many of the videos we created were based off of templated scripts, there was a fair amount of improvement that could be done. We got together as a team (most of the time) before a shoot to read through the script together. We were always able to find a couple lines or shot selections to change for the better.
Brainstorm everything. Make a list of the top-10 things that could go wrong and what the easiest/quickest/cheapest solutions would be. What happens if you forget the camera or it gets broken on the flight there? What if a high-level executive takes your interview space?
When my wife and I were planning our wedding in 2012 I wrote out a backup plan for nearly everything. What happens if the florist forgets to make the flowers? I had addresses and hours of the next closest florist and Costco. What if one of the groomsman forgets his tie? I brought a backup. What if a friend drinks too much? I got all my friends drunk the night before so they wouldn’t drink as much at the wedding! Luckily there were no emergencies but I was prepared for anything.
I also like to brainstorm what I can do to make a video better before shooting and after completion of the whole project. Should I hire someone to do makeup? Is there a cheaper way to do this? Could my assistant editor have done more?
I’d like to know if and what you brainstorm for projects. Leave your thoughts in the comments section!
I seriously cannot draw. Nonetheless I still draw storyboards. They are very elementary in terms of how they look but they allow me to easily see how the video will play out and I can rearrange and tweak as necessary before the shoot. If you’d like to see a post or tutorial on storyboarding let me know in the comments sections.
With storyboards the shooter and editor can put together a better shot list. Storyboarding also gives me a better idea of what graphics I’ll need to create. I can start working on them before or during the shoot.
Before a shoot try to head out to the location to take a site survey. Take note and bring up anything you think will make editing more difficult. Make sure everyone, especially the client, reads the script. Brainstorm what could go wrong and have the best backup solutions ready. Lastly, storyboard your video. This will give you a head start when beginning to edit and help you put together a better shot list.
I’d like to know how you save time in post with better pre-production. Share your thoughts!
Last thing… if you know an editor or someone in the video world that would benefit from this post do them a favor and send it to them. There are some handy sharing shortcuts below or you can always just email them the URL (hey quick shortcut – on a Mac use Cmd+L to highlight the URL).
Okay, this is really the last thing! Thank you so much for reading. Every view, share, subscription and comment gives me inspiration to keep going. I’m headed on a three-day shoot next week so I might not be as active on Twitter but I’m still planning to have new post or tutorial out on Wednesday. If you haven’t subscribed to get emails when I come out with new posts you can do that by entering your email address on the bottom of this page. Cheers and I’ll talk to you all soon!
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