How did you start out your editing career?
Hey, I'm looking into getting into an editing career or such. I've been editing for 5-6 years with programs like: Sony Vegas, Photoshop, AE etc,. making music videos to DVDs/games/home movies and such (kid stuff) I know these are not professional or industry standard programs but I'm trying to learn more about Avid atm since I only have a PC.
So, I'm wondering how you guys started out, how'd you get to the job of a video editor, what did you do before etc., and also, what is it like? Do you like doing it and make a good pay off it?
John, IMO learning a piece of software does not make an editor. Yes, you need to be proficient with your tools but read and study what makes an interesting program/show.
I went to film school and learned a lot of valuable theory and aesthetics; but zero skills to work as a professional. I learned those by interning and getting work in anything related to the industry, finding good people who are willing to share their knowledge and experiences (there are more than you think) and asking them lots of questions.
Its a tough way to make a living, its a fickle and unpredictable life.
I would suggest trying to get an internship or volunteer to work for free at any type of produciton company to see how you like it and go from there.
Once I decided that I wanted to work as an editor, I did everything I could do to get experience in the video production field. Internships, volunteering, independent projects, etc. I was fortunate enough to figure this out during my freshman year of college. So the next 3 years I used all of my free electives to take courses that would help on this path. I went above and beyond every chance I got. In 3 years of college I volunteered in the studio, did 4 internships, had 3 different PT editing jobs, did freelance work, made up my own projects to work on, volunteered time to work on projects for non-profits, and anything else I could get my hands on that atleast had something to do with video production. I figured if I wanted to be a great editor, it would help to know all aspects of the production process - and for me it does! I started my last internship about 5 months before graduation. After just a couple of weeks, they hired me PT, then offered me a FT position that I started right after graduation.
I would encourage you to get all of the experience you can handle. Don't limit yourself to editing either. Run camera, co-produce, write, light, work audio, and the list goes on. In my opinion, the experience I have had outside of editing has helped my tremendously. Technology is pushing a big chunk of the industry to hire one person to do what 10 used to do. In my current job, I am primarily an editor, but I also produce, write, shoot, light, run audio, create graphics, and a number of other things that come along. Without at least some experience in these areas, I probably would not be where I am.
Final Cut Pro Editor
The most common way to get started is to do it for free.
or very little.
My first paying tv job was running prompter at a local news station for 3.35 an hour. My big break paid a whopping 18k per year but at 80 hours a week, that was quite a step down from that sweet 3.35 I was making the year before. It held more responsibilities though and my business card said editor on it. Sweet. I was learning more getting exploited there than I was learning in school paying hard-earned money for it.
Build a cool reel with that gear you have experience on, market it around and take what is offered. Smile alot too.
I'm with grinner
After four years of college crammed into six years I came out with a degree in Political Science. After substitute teaching I realized my desires were not in the classroom. I began by volunteering and learned to operate camera (and did well at it).
I worked five weeks for my first paycheck and got $125 a week. That was probably a 60 hour week. I ran camera, built sets, lit the sets and whatever else they'd let me do. After gaining proficiency running a studio camera and listening to what the director does, I eased into directing by doing telethons. I ended in a directors pool doing a live two hour daily talk show - unscripted. Then I moved to videotape and learned the machines. Then I began to edit machine to machine for a couple years until we got a computer assisted editing system. I got into the editors chair and wouldn't let anyone else do it and ended up as the editor. A couple years later I was made technical operations manager over the tape ops and editors but eventually went back to the linear edit suite and let other people administer.
So take what you can get and excel at it. Best of luck.
fire*, smoke*, photoshopCS3
Charlotte Public Television
del underscore edits at wtvi dot org
I sold out!
I was lucky to get a job right out of college directing and editing Travel Videos. Ohhhh Myyyy God what a great job! 18,000 a year for 70 hours work weeks, but we did get to travel. How did I get the job (lesson 1) A friend in college worked there (Learn to network with people doing what you want to do). I loved directing, but I loved the all mighty dollar more, so off to NY to become a big time post house editor. I made great money, but gave up part of what I loved. I love editing, but learn all aspects of the industry before you choose one!
Long Live Da Cow!
Roy mentions what may be the most important thing to help someone who is starting out....NETWORK!
Meet as many people in the industry as you can.
I went to a technical college (Art Institute) and the most important thing that happened, was that I met the person who eventually recommended me for my first job.
I started as a grip for a large corporate production house. After 7 years, I had experience in almost all aspects of video production. I knew that I didn't want to grip/gaff for my career (although many people make a great living doing that), so I looked around and decided that my best path to "the big bucks" was via editing. I made it known to the bosses that whenever a tape operator position came open, that I was very interested. I finally got promoted and started to learn about beta, D2 and 1" tape decks, switchers and many other pieces of equipment in the linear editing suites.
I spent a couple years doing that, then I made it known to the news department that whenever their editor went on vacation, I could fill in. He did, I did. They were happy, so was I, but I went back to my normal job. Then I did the same thing to the production manager, and finally the offline (IPS) editor went on vacation and I had my next important break. I tried to go above and beyond and must've done so, cause when this guy got promoted, so did I into his job.
Then I got lucky and the company fired 40 people (to save money), so I was promoted to nighttime editor in one of the big suites (linear editing).
After a few more years, I got a job at a post production house, where I learned the AVID. After 2 years there, I got a job in the promotions department at the ABC affiliate in Dallas. Where I got TONS of experience in film, marketing and promotion. Then 5 years later I took a risk and went to work for a startup that basically did infomercials, but they sent me to Final Cut Pro classes, and I haven't looked back since.
After another job at a smaller internet television network, I was a victim of numbers crunching and was let go along with 40% of the staff. I took another chance and started my own company with my wife (also in the industry, and we met at the first job I mentioned above). We now operate a production company, Digitized Media, Inc., from a converted room in our house, and we have been pretty successful. Last year our company invoiced almost $200K.
The moral of this tale is that it takes connections, perseverance, determination, A LOT of late nights, holidays & weekends lost, pride, skill, luck and a bit of craziness to have a long career in this business.
I've talked with several younger people wanting to get into it, and they seem to think it is easy and lucrative. It is quite the contrary. I could bore you with several horror stories of things I have had to endure over the past 20 years in this business.
Expect long hours, low-to-medium pay scale, lots of work, unrealistic deadlines, little credit, frustration, eye strain, carpal tunnel and encounters with some very nutty, crazy people.
Having said all that, there is nothing cooler than seeing your work broadcast on television, or some other delivery medium like dvd or satellite. I still get a kick seeing my name in the credits.
If you really, really want to get in to a professional editing position start first by learning to cut a good story.
Write a couple shorts (or rip off an existing story like Hollywood does)
get your friends to act in them (the acting doesn't have to be good)
obtain a camera (oftentimes, the local Cable Access channel will be willing to loan them out or get a cheap camera off of ebay)
cut 'em together
edit them again
make 'em work and be effective stories.
Then, if you really want to do it professionally, look for smaller local TV stations with openings ("local" doesn't mean "local to you," it means "small, independently owned"). Those places tend to have a semi-high turnover rate because of the oftentimes low pay (so you'll eventually find one with an opening). You'll start out cutting commercials together and maybe you'll end up doing some longer-form stuff.
Lastly, learn everything you can about every aspect of the production process. There is a lot of cross-over type information. Learn about cameras, exposure, scene blocking, lighting, color theory...everything. The more you know and can execute effectively, the more valuable you'll be (and the more opportunities you have come your way).
My story is no different then the ones posted above. What great advice. You’ll notice a theme in every post, PASSION. You need to read the article Ron wrote in the COW Magazine 05 - The Power of Artistic Passion. Here is a link to all of the COW Magazines. Hope this helps.
Lone Peak Producitons
Check out my DVD Money Making Graphics & Effects for Final Cut Studio 2
All of the above.
I started at $1.30 and hour as a projectionist, since I knew film from working in theatres through high school. I had no TV skills since my real passion was music. I came off tour and my first daughter was born, I decided it was time to be a daddy. It was just pure luck or unluck whichever you may decide that brought me into television.
Learn every aspect as they say. You are much better at any part, if you know what all the other parts are doing. My goal as I started learning TV was to be a director, in small TV stations Director and TD are same person. As I grew into larger stations and systems, I found that to be a director I had to give up the TD part. I preferred playing with the toys, so I became an editor.
Now I create digital signage for a Las Vegas Hotel Casino chain which I joined to get out of the stress of the real world of television production, this chain is the largest in the world by the way. I create for 8 Las Vegas Casinos and control the signs for 5 of them, all from my little room at the Flamingo. I have on ocassion created video for all 40 of the Casinos in the chain worldwide.
I am retiring at the end of September, I'm tired, worn out, and with the corporate mentality, it ain't fun no more, but I got a lot of memories through 46 years in the industry. I still love teaching others what I have learned, and even tho I am leaving I still learn something new everyday.
Never quit learning, that is the main thought for the day.
ProductionKing Video Services
Unmarked Door Productions
Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel
Las Vegas, Nevada
I'm glad you can get out while the gettin's good. Look forward to hearing sage advice on the forums you moderate.
fire*, smoke*, photoshopCS3
Charlotte Public Television
del underscore edits at wtvi dot org