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work relation and ethic

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jesus silva
work relation and ethic
on Dec 5, 2008 at 6:56:11 pm

Dear Cows,
I have been an editor for over four years.
Currently working in a DOC.

I want to share and read the opinions of others about one particular situation I found very uncomfortable as an editor, I will try to be clear as possible.

Working with producers or director in the edit room, watched the cut thousands of times, everyone agrees, great. Days later I get this from the director, "What happened! Why there are so many music tracks!".

Example2: Been in a screening room with guests, taking that fact that I previously watched the cut with a producer and agree.
Later with the feedback of the guests the producer agree with everything they said and them in front of the guests I get the look or blame for things that where not in the cut!

Has anyone else been involve in this kind of situations?


"Equations are more important to me, because politics is for the present, but an equation is something for eternity."
Albert Einstein

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Mark Suszko
Re: work relation and ethic
on Dec 5, 2008 at 9:40:54 pm

This is common and comes with the territory. You were trying to please the wrong person. The person to please, ultimately, is whoever signs the checks. And that is not always the guy that sits in the suite with you while you work.

If you can afford to tell them off, you can, otherwise, smile, nod, do whatever they (think they) want at the moment, and always bill them for everything. To protect yourself, it is handy to have someone sign a time sheet of some sort that implies they approved what they just watched.

My personal best horror story like this, just to show you this is a big club you are in:

We once had a client come in, she spent most of the day trying to choose between several fonts and colors for some bullet points building on a screen. This was in the linear tape editing days, and the bullets were part of a sequence of dissolves. For you youngsters that only know NLE computer editing, this meant every time I had a change in one bullet point, I had to re-edit the same dozen shots dissolving between decks that dissolved into the first bullet screen before going forward, to make sure we didn't have chroma shifts or jumped frames/fields before we even GOT to the bullets, a process that took about fifteen minutes each time she asked for a change. Like if you didn't have a word processor, and every time you changed a large paragraph on page 3 of your document, you had to re-type the next four pages to accomodate the change in spacing. I explained the situation to her in just that way, when she started asking for do-overs.

I tried using non-destructive, non-recording previews to show what the new cut would look like on the master TV for her. I explained carefully each time that this was not an actual edit yet, that it was a rehearsal to see if she approved the change before I made it permanent, I needed her to approve and be positive about the change before we committed to it, or we'd have to go back and re-build the dissolve sequence yet again. She'd say yes, she understood.

She watched the preview, said yes, that's how I want it, go ahead and commit it to tape. She watched me commit it to tape. I'd then go forward one edit from that point. Two edit points. Starting to set up a third. She'd ask me to stop and go back. Play the building list of bullet points again for me. (or was she saying "Play 'Misty' for me"?)

And she'd make me go back and change the bullet point shapes, fonts, and colors back to one of the originals.

This went on for four hours until she finally went with, of course, the first version I had done originally. At day's end she complains to my boss that I'm slow and that we have not made all the progress on this project that she'd been expecting; I obviously was incompetent. Boss called me in. I explained my side of things, and that we were all lucky I hadn't gone postal from this yet. He gave the project to two other producers, who each in his turn all had similar problems, and communicated this to our boss.

My boss, God bless him, then called HER boss, the GTSTC, and explained why the very simple program was taking days longer to complete. They transferred the lady out of her office the same day and told our editor to finish the job on his own from the supplied script. Which he did in an afternoon.

The Guy That Signs The Checks looked at it and loved what our guy had done on his own.

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Mike Cohen
Re: work relation and ethic
on Dec 8, 2008 at 4:28:47 pm

On the flip side, you have situations where a client criticizes the work of a colleague. For example, we once had a senior level person from a client's organization conduct some interviews. I then cut the two-camera interviews for review. The senior person's colleague, another senior level person, then sat down with me for the final edit session. She immediately starts saying how the guy asked all the wrong questions, don't tell him I said this, but he was the wrong person to work on this, etc. In this case, you're the monkey in the middle, and just have to nod and say "uh-huh" a lot.

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Stephen Smith
Re: work relation and ethic
on Dec 8, 2008 at 7:07:02 pm

[Mark Suszko] This is common and comes with the territory. You were trying to please the wrong person. The person to please, ultimately, is whoever signs the checks.

Absolutely true.

I've had a client who took credit for for editing the project I cut. I got what I wanted, a check and he got what he wanted. He has come back multiple times, depending on how you look worked out in the end.

Stephen Smith
Salt Lake Video

Check out my DVD Money Making Graphics & Effects for Final Cut Studio 2

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Bill Davis
Re: work relation and ethic
on Dec 8, 2008 at 10:54:07 pm

I've developed the belief that the better a job you do - the more "parents" your project will grow.

It's especially fun when you're sweated over an edit for a couple of months with 3 people in the edit suite. Me editing, a content expert and a client producer all of who know each other well and who've learned to work together smoothly.

So we three join a couple of other corporate types plus maybe a minor exec or two for a viewing - and starting immediately after the piece shows, everybody in the room starts calling it "our video" - which is cool and shows buy-in. But then the phone rings, and suddenly one of the exec types says "Yeah, I'm down here editing the new company video..." And the next week, I watch the presentation of the work to a wider company audience and some Junior VP of sales stands up and starts saying things like "We decided that this would be a great design approach" - and I look at the two other people in the room who had ACTUALLY been there and made all those tough choices and tweeks and we grin at each other.

It's annoying at first. Now I just remember than anyone can "talk" a good game. But the three of us who actually did the work get to walk away knowing that when it's time to do the next video - someone has to come talk to us - because we're the people who actually know how to create something worthwhile on the screen.

And I've got to believe that that's always going to be valuable.

In general business, the bigger money flows toward leadership - which is primarily about achieving results through the efforts of others. But in the creative world, the only people who are indispensable to the process are those who can take a blank screen and fill it with something that will drive results.


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John Cuevas
Re: work relation and ethic
on Dec 10, 2008 at 3:24:21 pm

Along the same vein is the approval by committee process. These often provide for some really unique and unusual changes, particularly when they don't watch it the video at the same time. Recently I received this list of changes.

1. Background color needs to be white.
2. yada
3. yada
4. yada
5. The text would look much better if we changed it to white.

I thought about giving them white text over a white background---but just couldn't pull the trigger on that one.

Johnny Cuevas, Editor

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John Grote, Jr.
Re: work relation and ethic
on Feb 4, 2009 at 2:06:04 am


I wish I had your boss for a couple of sessions that I had like that. And remember the pre-read days too.



J. Grote, Jr.

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grinner hester
Re: work relation and ethic
on Dec 13, 2008 at 1:59:26 am

dear Jesus (man, I've always wanted to say that)

example 1: Dude just heard it in a different environment with different speakers for the first time. You can mend this by prividing multiple listening situations at your place.

example 2: Dude has his client in front of him. What do what him to look like a bafoon and lose the gig for everybody? Take your whippin's, Jesus.

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Dan Archer
Re: work relation and ethic
on Dec 30, 2008 at 9:34:59 pm

Jessus, All these stories are right on the money i have a few of my own( we should all get together and do a book) Just remember....The "GOOD" editor and the one who will continue to work is the one who can wade thru all this BS and deliver the project as close to budget and on time as possible.
Keep plugging away and you too will have your clients from hell one day.

A cut is a cut & a dissolve is a disolve, and not just anybody with a system is a pro.

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jon agnew
Re: work relation and ethic
on Jan 7, 2009 at 5:52:24 pm

On my first day of my first job, my boss gave me the best piece of work-related advice I have ever received. He told me that my primary responsibility was as follows: If he screws up, I take the blame. If I do something right, he gets the credit.

That's just the way it is until you're the boss.

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