Posts Tagged ‘organization’

Even In The Quietest Moments

November 15, 2011 Leave a comment


In my life, I try to juggle a number of things. There’s the needs of managing a department, my work on shows that has me out-of-town at times, prepping class lessons…all the while making sure to have quality at-home time with my family. It’s a very rewarding life I lead, but does require some time management. What I’ve discovered is that there are some stretches of time that before went by where I could get more done. Riding the train in to work provides 20 minutes of quality writing time. Waiting for the train allows me to go through emails. Having two computers on my desk leads to multi-tasking.


The same can be said in the edit suite. There is an old axiom in television…”Hurry up and wait”. There may never have been a truer saying for the editor’s life in the non-linear world. In my previous post, I talked about being prepared before you even step into the edit suite…but what about once you’re into the project?


The beauty about the non-linear world of editing is that it IS non-linear. In the days of tape-to-tape editing, you had to wait for certain things to be completed before you moved forward. Oh sure, you could cut a story or feature on a separate tape and then dump that in once you got to that point in the show…but you lost a generation of video quality. Not exactly rewarding for you to think ahead if it compromises the quality of your work. But that’s not a problem anymore. You can start a new sequence, cut what you need to cut, and in some cases drop that sequence down on to your master timeline as one chunk without any video degradation. This allows you to keep working while waiting for an element of the show that’s taking a little longer than expected.


In some cases, even rendering time can be beneficial. It’s true that the life of the non-linear editor can sometimes be measured in progress bars. At times, it seems we watch those green/blue/black units of completion scroll across our screen more than we edit. But that “can’t do anything else” time doesn’t have to be a mandatory break. Think about what you can do that doesn’t require your editing computer. Anything from email correspondence with clients updating them on progress, gathering shots from an archive system on another computer, listening to music for the next piece in advance so you’re not wasting valuable edit time…all this can be accomplished in the time it takes your system to do a long render.


Of course, and perhaps above all else, is to make sure that you feel ready for the next part of the project. Sometimes, this means taking that 10 minutes or so and grabbing a snack, heating your lunch or simply refueling on coffee. The more alert and nourished you are, the less likely you are to make little mistakes. When I pull an all-nighter, I go in prepared…not just in having my materials in order, but in making sure I have what I like to call Edit Fuel. Have a late small meal prepared for the long renders, and some snacks for the shorter ones. If you’re tired, and you feel like you’ve been up for 3 days straight when you’re only in hour 6, you will start to miss things. This is where frame flashes, unwanted jump cuts and bad audio mixes happen…when the editor is not at 100%. It’s true that sleep deprivation can affect your hearing, so if you’re too tired to hear properly, how can you make a good mix? Take care of yourself and you’ll be better able to take care of your project.


Pre-Post Production

October 26, 2011 Leave a comment


You’ve probably heard the saying “If you succeed in preparing, you prepare to succeed”…then promptly ignored it as some trite inspirational slogan found on motivational posters. The problem is, as cheesy as those sayings are, they’re also very accurate. Just apply the analogy to an MMA fighter who probably should have spent more time in the gym. The end result usually ends up on Youtube with remarks like “OMG, WTF…How are you still alive?”


So, in order to not end up like the editing version of our poor, potentially decapitated MMA example, make sure you are fully prepared before you go into the edit suite. Before you enter any edit session, put yourself through this mental checklist…


1) Do I know what it is I’m cutting?


– believe it or not, this happens more often than not. Many times, you’ll have a vague idea of what you are working on…but doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface if being in the right mindframe. While subject may be a simple concept to grasp…mood, tone and pace are all subjective. What is the producer/director/reporter trying to tell, and how are they trying to tell it? What emotions are they trying to convey and provoke? What audience are you cutting for? These are all questions that should be answered before you even power up your computer. If you’re on the wrong page, you’ll have it cut only to hear “It’s not quite what I was thinking. Can we start over?”. Be on the same page as those you’re working with, so you can tell the same story


2) Do I have all the materials I will need to cut this?


– depending on the complexity, length and pace of the piece/show, you may need a lot of media in order to finish the job. If you accomplished the previous step in advance (maybe a day or two before edit day), take that time to load in all of the viz and sound you’ll be working with. Batch loading takes a long time, importing and converting even longer. Nothing eats a budget faster than being able to do nothing but watch little blue/black/green bars go across your screen. If you’re lucky, you may have a junior editor hired to do this for you (be good to them, they deserve it). However, if you don’t have that luxury, make use of the time you have beforehand for this tedious, yet necessary step. If it’s importing, that can be left to run overnight….hence, doing what every editor jokes about doing…working in your sleep.


3) Do I have too much stuff?


– Yes, this happens too…all too often, sometimes. Never underestimate the power of a paper edit! If you’re doing a half-hour show, you shouldn’t need 60 hours of tape loaded in. You should have just what you need, and nothing more. If you want to realize what an important step this is, try this….load in an hour-long clip. Then take the time and scroll through to find the 2-3 minutes you need. Now, tackle the same project, but with a paper edit. You guessed it…about 5 minutes of load in time as opposed to an hour. There, doesn’t that feel better? This is even more important in a digital environment, where import times are agonizingly slow. Just bring in what you know you need, and you shorten step 2 even more.


4) Get Organized!


– Imagine a project where you have approximately 150 clips, 27 graphic files, 4 cuts of music and 15 sound FX files which needs to be chopped into 2 segments, thereby requiring two different sequences. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Now imagine all of that in one bin. Imagine the amount of time wasted going back and forth in that bin just trying to find one solitary clip. You want a good analogy? Grab a phone book, look at one column and try to identify one number. Non-linear editing is bad enough on the eyes, why complicate matters more? Edit systems have the ability to have multiple bins for a reason, so take advantage of that feature. Have separate bins for music and SFX, graphics, sequences, rendered files, different scenes/parts, etc. However, try not to go too overboard. As cluttered as a bin can be, a screen can be just as cluttered with too many bins. Find a happy medium that works for you…make your project layout the Ikea of bin structures. Everything in its place, and every place easy to find.


Notice how all of this happens before we perform edit one. The more prepared and organized that you are, the easier the actual process of editing will be when you’re on the clock. So spend as much time in preparing, and you’ll bring it in on time.