Importance of "good" images?
I had sent my reel off to a company and heard last week that I was in the "possible pile", today I got an email stating that the "samples of work that I sent did not make the cut"
Some background: For the past 5 yrs I worked at a startup digital cable network on in-house produced reality TV stuff for 20-somethings. Due to the fact that it was a startup, the budgets were really low and most of the camera "crew" consisted of an operator (who doubled as the producer) and an audio tech (if they were lucky and he didn't have class that day) These "crews" were mostly fairly inexperienced (either in college or just out) to learn everything on the fly. The Senior Producer would hold a "camera class" about once a month for the new hires to show them how to frame/focus/white balance!!!
As the Senior editor, I found myself giving tips on shooting techniques all too often and getting very frustrated with the somewhat amateur look of what was expected to be competition with MTV.
Needless to say, much of what I edited had bad compositions, bad audio, bad color balance, and so on. But, for 5 yrs, I churned it out because the network was going to take off and then we'd get proper budgeting and staff. Well, it didn't happen and in April the place closed down and I'm looking for a job as an editor.
My one big paranoia is that because some of these images are so sub-par compared to the places that I'm applying, that the hiring parties are not able to see past the bad footage and actually see the edit and be entertained by it. I'm a strong story editor and with cutting realityTV on a limited budget, I really learned how to milk something for the content and do it quickly. I want to get into long form doc work that actually means something, but most of these places I'm sending stuff to do really nice camera work. I know I can edit the stuff they shoot up one side and down the other, but I feel like I can't get my foot in the door because of the bad footage on my reel.
So my question (finally) is... How much do you think good looking images plays a role in an editor's reel?
If you're applying to be an editor, how much do you think they are looking at the quality of images rather than the quality of the edit?
Avid Editor (for hire)
Good day Kenton,
I have just finished watching your demo, you have some nice images and have a good pacing when cutting to the music, but there are a couple of things I would change/omit. The first is some of the old 70s ftg, it did nothing for me, especially the couple and their shopping cart, the two teens in the car, next the luggage thru the marriott doors (I'm not sure what luggage is supposed to do for me?). The golf scenes are nice, but then the whole roommate part dragged on a little too long. I know you where trying to give us a glimps of what you can do, but I'd save this for after your montage. In a nutshell other than the roommates section and putting more exciting images in place of what I mentioned above, I think its not half bad.
Kenton, one thing that was told to me when I first started out was "You take chicken shit and turn it in to chicken salad". What that means is, that sometime (okay, most) you don't have a lot to work with either quality or quantity, but you make it the best possible piece you can. That being said, making it better comes with experience and learning from others how to shine the turd to make it sparkle. I'm almost 20 years in the business and I still learn little tricks from the people around me and also on the cow forums.
Image means everything and that is why you must take the time to make it the best looking piece/demo that you have ever seen. We do work in a visual medium and what sets the men from the boys is that image quality. That is why we use scopes and meters to judge what we are sending out to not only air, but even for those low budget pieces.
My sentiments exactly on the Roomies section, I cringe everytime I see it, so I know it's got to go.
I have tons of other stuff and will likely take a different approach in that section (and shorten it as well)
The couple w/the shopping cart is from a doc I worked on, it's not part of the 70's footage, but if you noticed it as something that was "off" then I'll have to revisit it as well.
I've been in the process of mentally re-working the whole reel and I think it's time to get the ideas out of my head and onto the screen.
Thanks for taking the time to view it and comment.
Avid Editor (for hire)
I thought your reel was pretty good (some comments below), and whatever you felt about the images, your editorial choices definitely came through. While it's always good to have million dollar images, I don't think that is working against you at this point. I think you should be more positive about where you've been and bring that confidence to the table (ie, instead of saying "I churned it out..." say instead "I wonder what some of these places could have done with the budget and resources we had!"). There's a sense of blaming those in the prodution pipeline for the quality/lack of quality in your reel. I would imagine many of the folks who worked on it felt that they were bringing something to the table beyond the "amatuer" and were all constrained by the same things you mentioned. And to be honest, I was expecting a lot worse footage based on the way you sold it in your post.
[Kenton.VanNatten] "some of these images are so sub-par compared to the places that I'm applying, that the hiring parties are not able to see past the bad footage and actually see the edit and be entertained by it."
If these places are as good as you mention, then I would say that they can see beyond the production elements. Some of the comments btveditor made then really come into play, to make your reel as strong as possible. And don't forget that you made it into the "possible" pile and that there were probably a few other very talented and experienced editors who didnt' get the job, either - it's competitive out there.
1. The 70s look didn't bother me, and I actually liked that you showed that you could cut an action sequence, but the music felt dated and 70s-ish, especially with the look of your beginning and ending graphic.
2. The Roomies section - I liked the idea of cutting in a section with your actual work - too many reels just show that a person can edit a music video, not long form narrative or doc.
3. Fix the audio on the part with the guy jumping out of the closet, and then in the early part of the introductions after that - it sounded distorted (an example of btveditor's comment of putting the best stuff in or making it work)
4 Roomies part 3: The intro is good, the Xion (sp?) part is good, though a little long, but then you start with another storyline with Zorba and Jamie without paying off the first storyline. I just looked at it again, and is the idea that Jamie's a lesbian and Zorba wants to get in her pants? I guess the whole Roomie section is juxtaposing Xion who is straight, though people think he's really gay, with Jamie who is gay, but Zorba thinks she's really straight ? That needs to be set up and paid off a little better and a little quicker. Also, there's no end to the Roomies section. What's key here is that you are selling your strength as a story teller, so you need to tell a story (in the 2 minutes that you have!).
5. I thought your editing within the individual scenes of Roomies was excellent - these aren't easy to edit well - and demonstrated solid fundamentals/craftsmanship.
5. The overall structure of the piece was really strong - I liked the quick cuts and payoffs in the opening section (the old folks didn't bother me), followed by the long form Roomies section in the middle then going back to some of the quick stuff at the end. I think the structure works really well for a demo reel - especially for narrative/doc stuff.
Anyways, my $.02 cents (which won't even buy you fumes at the gas pump nowadays).
"Go slow to go fast"