Preparing for Vacation: A Quick Guide for Jet-Setting Video Editors

Preparing For Vacation

Soon I’ll be taking my first trip out of the United States and I’m making it a big one – I’m headed to Japan! In this post I’m going to go over what I’m doing to prepare for this lengthy vacation. I’d love for you to chime in too with your thoughts on what you do before going out of town. Thanksgiving for us in the US is right around the corner and the other winter holidays are fast approaching so I think the timing of this post is pretty ideal.

There’s nothing worse than being bothered on vacation or someone messing up your projects/media/hard drive/etc. especially when there’s nothing you can do about it. I’m sure I’ll come back to 1500 emails but I’m going to prepare my company and team the best I can for anything that can happen while I’m gone.

Backup, backup, backup

Backup everything. I cannot stress this enough. Backup anything and everything you can. Got it?

I work off of 2TB external hard drives. I have my main hard drive, let’s call it Drive #001, for all my most used elements, current projects, recently completed projects and important projects. Everything else is on a separate drive. Let’s call that one Drive #002. Drive #002 is duplicated already so I don’t need to work about it. I keep one at home and one in the office.

My Fantom Drive G-Force3. I have six of them.
My Fantom Drive G-Force3. I have six of them.

As far as Drive #001 goes, I’m going to create a backup to leave in the office and keep it at home. The one in the office will be an exact mirror of my drive.

As far as my Avid Projects, I back them up onto our server, on Drive #002, on my assistant editor’s hard drive and on the backup of Drive #001 left in the office.

I leave a copy of my drives in two places in case something catastrophic happens in the office or at my house. This way a copy of everything is always safe. Also, if anyone needed something off the drive it would be available to him or her in the office.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a media server just make sure everything’s good with it before you go and let IT or whoever is in charge of the server know that you’re going out of town.

Rules and SOPs

Rules and SOPs are beneficial regardless of if you are going out of town for an extended period or not. I used to have “Encoding Rules” framed on the wall of my edit bay. It was a simple 3-step process but for some reason people got it wrong all the time. I’m serious when I say it was framed and hung on the wall.

You should have strict rules setup for when you’re gone. Make sure it’s clear that only specific people (if anyone) can touch your edit bay, hard drive, files, etc. Make a point that no one uses your Avid User settings if you’re an Avid editor. You can make a copy of them and have it available in case someone might need it.

If there is anything that only you know how to do, like how to setup the studio for a shoot or how to import this specific type of footage, write it down in a simple step-by-step process. I call these SOPs or “Standard Operating Procedures.” I have a binder of all these processes.

It can be easy to start to think, “Well if I tell everyone how to do these things I’ll have no job security.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. Trust me, they don’t want to know the 48-step process of setting up the studio otherwise they would already know how to do it. If anything, it will only give them a greater appreciation for everything you know how to do. It’s better that you have how to do something written down than getting frantic emails or phone calls while you’re on vacation.

Review Projects with Producers and Co-Workers

A couple weeks ago I got with my producer and several co-workers and went through the status of all my projects. We reviewed what needed to get done before I left and I’ve had plenty of time to get it done (just one more project to finish!). They know exactly when I’ll be out of contact and what my assistant editor can do in my absence.

A couple days before I leave I’m going to get with everyone again just to review all the projects again.

Lengthy In-Depth Review with Assistant Editor

To be honest, this is the first time I’m taking a long vacation with an assistant editor (or another editor of any sort) that can back me up so my stress level is wayyy down regarding all of this.

As Zen as I am, I’m still going to get with my assistant editor to make sure she’s prepared. It’s a big leap because she’ll be responsible for everything. But I trust her more than anyone else I have ever worked with and know she’ll do a great job. If she doesn’t she should know I’ll write a post about it! No pressure!!

Here’s what I’m going to go over with her:

  • Give her anything she could need off of my hard drive
  • Give her a copy of my Avid Projects
  • Go over export settings and locations for final deliver of files
  • Go through every project in fine detail and what, if anything, could pop up while I’m gone
  • Make sure she’s set on all her projects and has plenty to do while I’m out
  • Give her the thumbs up to spend $50-75 on music/elements/etc. without having to ask someone above me
  • Most importantly, empower her to make decisions


I already have my trip on my shared work calendar. I’ll put up an out of office message on my email for internal emails. For the handful of clients that might reach out to me while I’m gone I’ll send a personal email telling them when I’ll be gone and who to reach if they need anything. This is also a good time to reconnect and check in on them and put a bug in their ear about future projects.

Buckle Up and Prepare for Takeoff!

Phew. My vacation is fast approaching. Do you think I’m preparing okay? What would you add to this list? Did I mention anything that you haven’t thought of before?

I’m going to take lots of pictures and give updates on my trip on Twitter when I can get to WiFi. I have my fingers crossed that everything is setup correctly on WordPress and YouTube so these weekly posts and tutorials will continue to come out without disrupting my vacation.

Do you have any suggestions on where to go and what to do in Tokyo or Kyoto? I can’t wait for my vacation and hopefully I prepared well enough. Give me your thoughts on this post and I’ll see you on Friday for a new tutorial. Sayonara!

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