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How Video Editors Stay Productive

Image of Calendar with text saying How Video Editors Stay Productive

Thursday 6:24PM.

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.

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23 Posts about Video Production, Post Production, Avid and More

23 Posts on Post

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.

My Favorite Posts

The Edit Bay – A Romanticized View of One Editor’s Relationship With Four Walls

Video Editor is Not a Synonym for Motion Graphics Artist

Editor: The Amateur vs. The Professional

How to Setup a Video Company on a Realistic Budget

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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.

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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!

Castle Premiere and How a Poorly-Made Montage Can Effect Story

Monday night was the season premiere of Castle. It’s right up there with The Walking Dead for me. They are interchangeable as my #1 and #2 favorite shows. Last night I couldn’t wait for the Season 7 premiere as Season 6 ended in a cliffhanger. After the show I was left questioning how one poorly constructed montage had completely destroyed the credibility of many of the relationships the main character had built with other central characters.

Note #1: This will contain many spoilers.

Note #2: You don’t need to be a fan of the show to read this post. What I’m going to get into will go beyond the reach of the show and I’m merely using it as an example.

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What marriage has taught me about my NLE

I’ve been married to my wife for nearly two and a half wonderful years. I’ve been married to my NLE, Avid Media Composer, for twice that. What I’ve learned over that time is that the two relationships are fairly similar. I’m going to explain to you how lessons learned through your significant other directly relate to how you should work with your NLE.

How's your relationship with your NLE? Photo by Christopher Michel on Wikimedia Commons

How’s your relationship with your NLE?
Photo by Christopher Michel on Wikimedia Commons

Learn and Observe

In any relationship there is a learning curve. A man or woman never writes a user’s manual for himself or herself. That’s where you have an advantage with your NLE. Everything you need to know about it is right in front of you!

When I began editing on Avid Media Composer I had zero idea of what I was doing. None. I sat there for hours trying to figure out why I couldn’t click a clip in the timeline and move it (this was pre-Smart Tool). Then one day digging around my edit bay I found the software manual. I took it home and after a couple weeks had read the entire thing. This didn’t mean I knew everything about it but it did give me a huge heads up because I knew what it could and couldn’t do.

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Focusing and an Experiment for Video Editors

Growing up I hated reading. I hated reading worse than broccoli and flossing. Somehow over the past 6ish years I have fallen in love with it though. I’m still a slow reader but I’m usually reading at least two books at all times. My most recent endeavor is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It’s not a book about tuning engines. It’s “an inquiry into values.” I’m only ~50 pages into it but already really digging it (a term that’s been stuck in my head because it’s in every other paragraph in the other book I’m reading). The other night I came across a few pages that focus on focus and an idea struck me. I realized this is something I’ve been slacking on and thought we could try out an experiment together in the edit bay to see if it helps us edit video faster.

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That time I opened a beer and had a website before I finished it

Laptop on table

One beer and one website later…
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com by Luke Chesser

Over the past year I’ve had this urge to create a website dedicated to helping people edit video faster. I’ve spent months planning. I created and recreated mind maps of ideas, topics, courses, products, etc. Started, stopped then started over again only to find myself in the same place – nowhere. All this planning took away from the most important part of all of this – acting. I was stuck. I couldn’t pull the trigger until it was just right. Then over the weekend while I was winding down for the night I reached in the fridge to grab a beer when an idea hit me… why don’t I just start the damn website right now before I’m finished with this beer? I’ll never be able to plan it all out and I already have some idea of what I want to do so why not go for it?

It was midnight after a long week. My wife and dog were sound asleep. All I was going to do is watch part of some bad 90’s action movie on TNT or a standup comedian that isn’t that funny. So I decided right then and there, standing in my dark kitchen, illuminated by the refrigerator light clutching a Heavy Seas Siren Noire in my hands, that I would start this website now.

I poured my beer, moved over to the family room, opened up my laptop and went over to the webhosting company’s website I had decided on (and undecided on then redecided on again) months ago. If my wallet had been on my nightstand where it should have been then I most likely would have chickened out because I probably would have woken up my wife and been guilted into going to bed with a freshly poured beer still downstairs. Maybe it was meant to be. I hadn’t even taken a sip yet and before I knew it the EditVideoFaster.com domain was purchased and I was installing WordPress.

That night and the following early mornings and nights since I’ve been tinkering with the themes, layout, structure and everything else that goes along with it. I’m nowhere near done and don’t expect to be anytime soon. This site looks rough right now and I’m okay with that. If I didn’t act the other night then I probably still would be without a site and stuck in the same place I’ve been. I acted, just like you did when you clicked on the link to visit this site. Just like you will do when you use the information I will share on this site to make you a faster video editor. The only reason you should be here is to become better at your craft of video editing (or you’re my mom). I urge you to act with the skills and knowledge you learn here (which will be up shortly if it’s not already). I urge you to act and share your best practices along side myself and help make the video editing community a better place.

I’m here for you. If there’s something you are struggling with in video editing or the industry in general, let me know. This site is to help you. On this site you will find real-life examples of mistakes I’ve made and what I’ve learned from them so you won’t have to do the same. You’ll find helpful resources for your favorite software like Avid Media Composer, Adobe After Effects and Adobe Photoshop. I’ll create products and resources like Video Editor Survival Guides or stock graphic elements and footage for you. Anything you need, I’m here for you.

Fellow editors – if you take one thing from this post I hope you take this: Act. Don’t hesitate when there’s something you have to do or it’ll slowly drive you crazy and it’ll become harder and harder to do. Grab a beer and dive in. Have you done anything similar recently? Share in the comments section below. Cheers!

Hey, one more thing! Send this post out to someone who needs to act and make sure to subscribe to my email newsletter at the bottom of this post to stay up-to-date on news and special newsletter-only information. As an FYI, like I mentioned above, I’m still getting this website set up and the same goes for the newsletter so please bear with me while I work out the kinks! This is completely new to me but it’s really exciting and I promise to only deliver top-notch content to you.