The art of sleep deprevation.
It seems that part of the art of editing is being able to function for very long periods of time without sleep. I have just picked up a gig as an assistant editor doing the graveyard shift for a TV series 2-3 nights a week. Problem is, I am still working other cutting gigs during the day 4-5 days a week.
Now, I made the decision to take the graveyard shift (great opportunity) and I made the decision to continue with my other day gigs (regular work), so there is no complaint here. I am interested to see if other editors out there still do the crazy hours, and how they handle it when they do.
Also, when you do get the opportunity to sleep, can you actually get to sleep? I got back to the house at 3am this morning with 4 hours to catch some shuteye, and did not sleep a wink.
Cheers, and sleep well....
- been up for the better part of 37 hours so far. got another 4.5 hours of digitizing will I make it off to bed
Good day Al,
I've been editing for over 16 years and I am 38 now, but I still wind up doing some crazy hours. I have a full time gig, but I have a couple freelance clients as well, so about two weeks ago, I left my day job. I went to the freelance gig until 4 in the morning, I then had an hour drive back home, went straight to bed and an hour and a half later my son wakes me up. Talk about being in a fog, went to work on Thursday and Friday I repeated the same secnario. Good money, but a blown weekend. I was in bed by 6:30 pm Saturday night and slept for 13 hours.
This isn't typical, but it still happens once in awhile. I applaud you for being a go getter and busting your ass. It is the best way to make a good impression on the other people around you when something good comes along, you'll be on their list.
Keep up the good work!
I work from 6am to 3pm at my day job (Senior Editor RDS, Montreal) monday through friday.
To get to work, because of the commute, I am up at 4:30am.
I get home around 4:15pm. A few cups of coffee then I am at it with my newly formed company. I usually work until 9-10pm taking breaks to play with the kids, eat and help put them to bed.
I like to watch Coronation street and have a chat with my wife...so most nights it is close to 11pm when I hit the hay. Luckily I usually sleep well.
Wednesday nights I play soccer...I don't get to bed until 12pm and usually it is 12:30 to 1 am before sleep hits.
On the weekend I get to sleep in until around 8am, but I usually try to put in 6-8 hours on at least one of the days to get projects done.
Beleive it or not, but with my day hours I actually get to spend a lot of time with my wife kids, something that is very important to me.
It is very tiring, but my body seems to be getting used to it quite nicely. I am at some point hoping to have only job, but for now I have to keep trying to build my company.
I've done my share of sleep deprivation. Some observations...
It is important that you get a sense for how your performance deteriorates over time. This helps you to know how fast you can go, and what you are likely to screw up, so that you build more double checks into your work flow as the hour gets later.
Do not drive after you have been up for more than 21 hours. Even if you have to nap in the car, do not drive. A friend of mine died going from gig to gig in the middle of the night. In his 20s, making a good name for himself, not making good decisions.
Manage your stimulant intake. Most of us are dependent on coffee or energy drinks. Anything stronger will shorten your life, besides being against the law. Not worth it in my estimation. There is a point where caffeine feels like jitters on top of a pool of exhaustion. This is a point for me when concentration is difficult, and driving at night is out of the question.
For me, any sleep is better than none. Not everyone agrees on this. I've tried plowing through
be careful not to overdo it. it will have negative effects on the quality of your work and therefore your ability to attract bigger and better projects thereafter.
Hi Tom, and everyone who responded,
Thanks for the kind words and sound advice. I am glad to know that I am not the only one.
I ended up packing it in about an hour after writing that e-mail and catching a cab home. I managed to get a good solid 8 hours sleep, and feel much better for doing so. Now there is only a couple of hours capturing and a credit roll to finish then the weekend is mine. (It's Saturday here.)
Have a good one,
I am also planning on taking the rest of the evening off.
My humidor has a nice Cohiba esplendido sitting in it. Well, tonight it will be mine :-)
Have a good one,
I think you'd be hard pressed these days to find someone in this business who only works on job and doesn't have a 2nd or some extra projects on the side.
Several years ago, I was working a night shift from 7pm to 2am and got a second gig during the day from 9:30a to 6:30. After adding in commuting time, which was a lot, I got about 4 hours of sleep a nignt. This went on for 3 months. Let me tell you, I was toast. I don't know how I functioned, but I don't think I was giving my best because of it. In addition, going home one night, I fell asleep at the wheel. I am lucky to be alive.
If you do this more than once a week, you get into a case of diminishing returns. Don't forget to bill extra for the overtime: billing straight time after 12 hours on, with six to go, makes no sense.
Driving tired after such a gig is a really bad idea, better if you grab two-three hours on a couch at the shop than climb into a car in the dead of night with impaired driving. I got my one scare long ago: after dropping a date off at her house, driving tired, I started driving West on the tollway from the edge of Chicago, heading home, 30 miles away. I blinked my eyes for just a second, I swear, and next thing I knew, I found I was parked at the passenger drop-off at O'Hare International, just idling. I had lost active consciousness and in a hypnotic kind of state, followed the tail-lights of a cab in front of me all the way to the airport, a 20-mile detour. YIPE!
I've done plenty of late night double-shift edits, and I find past a certain point, I lose too much efficiency and start making dumb mistakes that cost even MORE time. It's like it takes 99 percent of the energy to get the last 1 percent done... I would have the hardest time setting up a clean dub of the master, or I'd get a system crash, and restore to the wrong version of a program, or lose track of a file... back in the linear tape days, there was one time I erased the one-inch master by mistake when nearly done, by being too tired to remember to set an out-point when adding a simple insert of an updated slate to the front of a finished piece. "MAN that seems like more than 10-seconds - OH #$@%#!!!" It was making me nuts.
It also does take a toll on your family life and interpersonal relationships. One of the things that has helped me is to be a little more conservative when predicting the amount of hours for a job. I know from experience that, if there are no problems, a certain job should take about six hours, but I'll book for eight or even 12, carrying over to the next day. I would not bill for the unused pad hours, of course. Too often, I have pushed myself to late hours to be the hero and get something done on deadline, then, anticipating a rest break, something comes up, work or family related, requiring MORE of my time, and now I'm going into the new job at less than optimal efficiency, punchy, irritable.
By giving myself more of a pad, those unpredictable things that pop up don't endanger the deadline as badly. We tend to want to be the hero, to be Star Trek's Scotty that always comes thru in the clinch, but sometimes that's not the best thing for the good of the project or the people we love. No video is worth your life to finish, remember to think past the immediate deadline, long-term.
I agree with the others - the biggest problem with long hours is death by driving whilst tired. I have come close to falling asleep at the wheel a few times. All the spicy mints, air conditioning, open windows and AC/DC blasting in the world may work for a few minutes of driving, but if your body needs to sleep, it will not ask for permission.
I have done a few 18, 24, 36, even a 40 hour editing marathon - you reach a limit of concentration.
The best was I was reviewing a video with a client in Chicago. He was not happy, but the video was being shown the next day at 11am. At 7pm he calls and asks if I can re-edit the thing. I told him I did not have the raw footage with me. So I took a taxi to O'Hare, somehow got on a plane back to Connecticut, got to the office at 11:30pm - edited until 3:30am - had to lay off 2 different timelines to two different tapes - while these ran I typed up a rundown for the live event, got 30 minutes of shut-eye (not actual sleep) - got back to the airport at 7am local time, somehow got on a plane, got to Chicago, took a cab into town, and got the tape to the playback machine 30 minutes before it was needed. Then had to work all day!
Be careful and use your head.
When I was much younger I worked 8 hours, did an all nighter from 4 pm to 8 am, then went back on the house clock for 7.5 more hours. Everything was error free and looked good. I ran into the back of a Volvo station wagon on the way out the front gate and lost my headlights, grill, radiator, etc. and my insurance went up for 3 years. The Volvo suffered no damage.
As I get older I find I can do with less sleep, up to the point of crashing. As long as I keep inputting liquids and/or food every couple hours my body will respond. That is not to say at 100% efficiency at 2 am but with enough to get through the project.
Last October I had two back to back HD documentaries to finish in a five week period. The first one was finished on a Friday afternoon with 2 hours to spare before it's first showing. That one took three weeks with only about 30 hours OT. The next two weeks I worked three weeks as some of the footage was still coming in from a film transfer. We had the body of the show finished on Friday morning about 8 am after working all night (began 8 am thursday) but then spent the day putting in shots from the last reel that came in FedEx about 10:30, as well as doing funding credits and audio post layoffs. I tried to do an animated map again as well (not critical but I wanted it to be really nice) but my fried brain just wouldn't put the process together. One copy went out for a "premiere" at 5:15 pm and the actual air copy went to Master Control about 6 pm. It aired at 8 pm so I had plenty of time to spare. I worked 33.25 hours that day and had a total of 80 hours OT for the 5 weeks. May I say I have seen better planned projects? My youthful boss learned a lot about organization of projects and blown budgets. I slept well every night for the week following and took a day or two off to catch up on home and spousal maintenance.
fire*, smoke*, photoshopCS2
Charlotte Public Television
You know when you have an edit with a client, and on the first day of the edit it's the "Big Guy" accompanied by his assistant... then for the rest of the edit until the 2nd last day your working solely with the assistant? Well, turn that idea against 'em.
Although it can't really be done at my day job, I've learned to have an assistant editor for nearly all my freelance gigs - even if it's just an intern that knows how to digitize and organize. Recently, the idea of killing my creative hours by staring at the 16th take of the 37th scene as it's being digitized is only something I'll do on the really big projects. I'll coordinate the entire edit and simply include my A.E. in the initial negotiations, and as part of the estimate. It's stopped me from syncing audio, and that's what's important to me right now. As long as the A.E. has my needs jotted down ahead of time, I'm good. (And I make sure that he/she goes through the process of hand-writing my needs. It commits their importance to memory better.)
One client in particular has grown to use me exclusively because I let him pick the A.E. from his pool of upstarts, knowing that I'll get paid to fix his/her organizational mistakes. I dunno, for some reason he thinks that's the coolest thing. Whatever. Sorting out poorly organized clips takes much less time than doing the whole process myself.
Guys, Be careful, reading this thread has brought back memories of why I burned out after about 35 years in the business. I was totally unable to work, or even think clearly for almost 3 years. People talk about creative burnout, but the hours you get into working leads to total burnout, which I feel you never totally overcome. I still have moments of brilliance, but I don't have the creative endurance I once had.
Heed my warning, give youself time to breathe ocassionally. Get away, forget the creative world exists. Turn off all creative thinking and enjoy the flowers.
Even though I work a lot, my kids provide a great way of getting away. I love spending time with my family and make sure that they always come first.
I really enjoy the extra work I do at my home business. There is something soothing about editing in pyjamas.....It can get tiring, but it is also something completely different than my dayjob, thus I find it less tiring. The one big thing that I lack is sleep. On the weekends I try to catch up, as sometimes during the week I get slightly dizzy spells, probably due to lack of sleep.
Overall, I feel pretty good. I think that helathy eating definately helps. Also getting fresh air whenever possible.
I'm going to be a t my first NAB next month. Hopefully I'll get a chance to meet you.
[mark harvey] "I'm going to be a t my first NAB next month. Hopefully I'll get a chance to meet you."
You better, or I'll never answer a thread you are in again. Ask Boomer or Mrs Boomer for my number. Tell em I said you could have it. Supposedly gonna meet Nick Griffin real soon and looking forward to that.
See ya at NAB
Just got your number, the message also included your e-mail, so I will go ahead and shoot my number off to you.
Since I started this thread about a week or so ago, I have managed to get my working schedule sorted out a bit better. I still do all nighters with the digitising, but have a big couch and a pillow to catch some shuteye between tape changes. Any pre-cutting I do for the senior editor, I get done before midnight so that I am on the ball and focussed, and do it properly.
If I am doing a late night, then I try to book a late start for the morning or take the following day off completely. This doesn't always work out, but already this week, there has been an improvement.
I have also decided to schedule my fiance in as though she is a client. This may seem a bit weird, but it means that I am making definite plans to spend time with her instead of letting work spiral out of control, and not seeing her at all. She turns up in my calender along with all of my other clients. This has worked really well in terms of keeping my relationship, and my clients seem to respect it too.
My recommendation would be to do only one job at a time. It's hard enough to do that so why make it difficult on yourself. Frankly I wouldn't even consider highering an assistant that had a second job it's just too much.
I appreciate your point, but with this particular assistants job, I face the issue of basic economics. This assistants job is only 2 nights a week, and certainly not enough to provide a reasonable wage. Trying to get other jobs that are also at night, and compliment this job is extremely difficult, so necessity dictates that I work on other projects during both my on and off days. I would love to be working fulltime on this project, but the need is not there.
I appreciate that on a larger tv project or feature film, that an assistants role would be closer to 5 full days a week (or more). If this were the case, I would not consider taking other work, but at only 2 nights per week, I really need to keep other projects happening in order to both pay my rent, and further develop my career.