At the time of this writing, some of us are around 16 months into becoming video editors that solely edit from their homes instead of the office. Our lifestyle due to remote video editing has changed, for better and worse.
Lots of us have gone back to the commute and stale Keurig coffee that the office gives you. Others, like myself, are still cutting from home at least for the time being.
Over the last 16 months I’ve learned a few lessons about being an editor that I never would have known without this experience. This article will discuss these lessons and the lifestyle changes I’ve made as a result from remote video editing. Maybe you’ve had the same revelations. Maybe yours are the complete opposite. Let’s find out.
Flow, Quiet, and the Lifestyle of Editing at 10:00 PM
Since March 2020 my wife and I have been working [more than] full-time jobs with a toddler running around the house with us. My little man was 9 months old when we first came home and we just celebrated his second birthday. It’s been wild being with him all-day, everyday. I’m sure I’m going to mention him a lot in this article. You’ve been warned. #proudpapa
Before we go any further: I recognize I’m very privileged in that he’s been able to stay at home with us and this is our choice not to put him back into daycare yet. I’m immensely thankful for this time I’ve gotten to have with him. I know others haven’t been so fortunate. And lastly, none of this is complaining. These are merely observations of what has transpired while I’ve been trying to edit and be an online content creator for the past year and a third.
Do you know what’s impossible? Trying to edit with a toddler running around the house.
Oh man, you spilled your snack bowl. Shoot, you tripped and bumped your leg and are on the verge of tears. No no no no no no the dog just threw up and you’re running right towards it.
I tried to edit while he was with me. I really, really tried for months. Then I gave up. It’s impossible to get into any sort of flow state which is so damn vital to editing properly.
Luckily editing is only about 15% of my day-to-day responsibilities in my 9-5 job. If I was a 100% editor, well, this wouldn’t have worked. The full-time remote video editing lifestyle with a toddler at home is not compatible for me. Since this is the case, my editing time has been relegated to nap times and from 10:00 PM til I pass out. It’s a struggle. But it’s the only way this works for me.
These are the only times I’m left alone. However during nap times I’m generally pinged on Teams and email constantly so it’s not a whole lot better than having my kid playing legos behind me. So once bedtime is over, I get a short walk in, dishes are done, and I spend a few minutes hanging out with my wife, then it’s time to head on down to my home office and fire up the iMac much like tonight. It’s 9:23 PM right now as I write this and instead of editing.
It is what it is. I need the quiet to get into the groove and that only happens when the world is asleep.
Being Reminded How Gosh Darn Important Media Management Is
The vast majority of projects I’ve worked on since being at home have been updating old videos. TL;DR the product I work on for my company is a video-based training platform. So I create and update training videos.
I typically handle all the updates that were originally edited in Avid Media Composer. A few years ago the editing team switched over to Premiere but there are still a ton of projects that were originally done in Avid. So when a client needs to update their courses these projects land on my desk.
Each project has their own challenges which range between me feeling, “I’m so lucky I’m an editor” to “OMG what the hell have I done with my life to deserve this project filled with errors and missing media”.
I’ve been dealing with the “OMG what the hell have I done” feeling quite a bit recently. Project after project is missing media or corrupt or the video doesn’t match the script.
Good media management would have reduced the time I spend on these projects by a significant amount. Weeks-long projects would be days. Days-long projects would be hours. The vast majority of time I spend “editing” is piecing together a project back to its original state only to then update it.
I’m going to get on my soapbox for a minute. If you work in any sort of shared editing environment, you need to agree upon naming conventions, folder structures, project setups, project settings, a place where you keep custom fonts, and proper notes on what was done to a project when.
Setting up these rules and establishing these standard operating procedures will save your company oodles of money over the years. No, the people at the top of the company hierarchy will never see this stuff. The department heads don’t care or understand. Do it anyway.
Media Reconciliation is Going to be a Nightmare
Currently I have nine external hard drives on my desk. There’s probably another ten floating around my shelves and in boxes under my feet.
These are what I work off of instead of the shared media server at the office. It’s quite a process when I need to pull media from the media server. At night I have to remotely connect to an edit bay in the office. Connect to the media server. Pull it over to the company’s [slow] network. Then the next night VPN into the network from my Windows laptop with my exFAT hard drive connected. Copy the media over to the exFAT hard drive. Then plug the exFAT HD into my iMac along with one of my regular Mac-formatted HDs and copy the media over to here.
I have to connect and move media at night so I don’t disrupt the network for the rest of my company while they work during the day. And I would just use all exFAT HDs but all my hard drives are already Mac-formatted and hold various media except one exFAT that I use just for transferring.
Okay, did you catch all that? That was just the process for getting media over to my iMac so I can actually start working on projects. Once we inevitably go back to at least part-time in office work, I’m going to have to reconcile all this media with our network and media servers. This cleanup process is going to be a pain for sure.
I have dozens of projects’ media thrown across drives. My media management while in these projects has been fabulous, as you would expect. But I know a finely-detailed spreadsheet is in my future that will note what drive has what project and what needs to be moved over and what off the network and media servers can be nuked. I’m going to need a lot of stale Keurigs and patience getting everything put back together.
Keeping Up With the Video Editing Industry Has Been a Struggle
I think this lesson is the most subjective one. The past 16 months have been full-tilt 110% energy-taxing virtually every single day. Most of this has to do with having a child. I get that. But between those early days of wiping off groceries, the pressure of never knowing if you’re going to lose your job because the economy was tanking, hoping you and your loved ones don’t catch a deadly virus, and the vastly increased stress of doing what used to be everyday things like going to Target… all these things and more have made it feel impossible to stay up-to-date on “the biz”. There’s just too much other stuff getting in the way.
I have no idea what Adobe, Apple, Avid, and every other post production-related company has been up to. Did NAB happen? And podcasts? I haven’t listened to one of those since I last drove home from the office on March 16, 2020.
I’m out of the loop. I live in my bubble of Media Composer 8.4.4, Adobe Creative Cloud 2017, and macOS High Sierra.
But it works. I’m still creating videos and content. I’m a professional editor and unapologetically a pretty damn good one. However I have no clue what’s trending in the editing world. ::shoulder shrug emoji guy::
What Does the Future Hold for Remote Video Editing?
Just like me not knowing what the industry has been up to, I have no clue what the future holds.
I assume I’m headed back to the office in a couple months. But as we’ve seen anything can happen. For now, I’m trying to take things one day at a time and cherish what’s in front of me — an awesome toddler who lights up my life even if I spend the twilight hours of my days working because he prevents me from doing it during the day.
What lessons have you learned over the past 16 months? Are you still working from home? How is the remote video editing lifestyle treating you today compared to early on? I’d love to know. Leave me a note in the comments.
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