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Day to day Motion graphics as an editor

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Jon Fidler
Day to day Motion graphics as an editor
on Feb 27, 2011 at 5:52:52 pm

I posted here a few weeks back about motion graphics as an Editor and need a bit of an extension on the answer. I have read a couple of design books and have quickly got on board with Motion as I am familiar with the graphics features in FCP.

Im primarily interested in editing (image and sound) and colour correction and have done paid work on a few corpoprates in my spare time and am only doing motion graphics as it needed these days.But do I really need to go further than that. Its just starting to feel that my interests and research is going off path and is leading into a totally different path.

What is the general day to day stuff I need to know how to do. How far do I need to actually go into this area at a career level as you obviously need typographic and design knowledge for lower thirds, titles and transitions, animations as well as designing and animating basic logos and text as well as compositing. Basically all the core things Motion does.

Thanks

Jon


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David Johnson
Re: Day to day Motion graphics as an editor
on Feb 27, 2011 at 6:19:18 pm

I'm not sure I understand what you are asking, but I'll mention a couple things that might help ...

First, it seems you pretty much answered your own question: [Jon Fidler] "What is the general day to day stuff I need to know how to do?" .... "you obviously need typographic and design knowledge for lower thirds, titles and transitions, animations as well as designing and animating basic logos and text as well as compositing."

It depends primarily on specifically what you want your career to be and what you might be willing to settle for. Nowadays, it's pretty much impossible to be an editor without some skills in mograph, animation, compositing, etc. unless you're looking strictly at the high-end Hollywood track where, in many cases, editors edit and different people do the other things. Years ago, it even worked that way in mid and low-range shops, but those days are mostly long gone. By the "settle for" remark, I mean that, while you might have your sights set on doing Hollywood features, the reality is that a very small percentage make it that far so it's usually wise to also factor in whether you would be satisfied making a decent living doing local broadcast, corporate, etc.

Another thing important to consider is that we all learn as we go. It's not as though you learn everything you'll need to know at the start of your career and then rest on your laurels and live happily ever after. Like many others who frequent the COW to both learn and share what we've learned, I've been in this business for 20 years now, but still spend a lot of time learning new stuff. So, I'd say focus on getting a firm grasp on the basics and learn more advanced stuff as needed.

Do you need to spend countless hours, days and years learning how to do high-end special fx, etc.? Not unless you're dead set on Hollywood and will accept no less. To even get and keep a decent job as an editor, do you need a firm grasp of titles, animations, mograph, etc.? Absolutely.

I hope you find my two pence helpful.


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Jon Fidler
Re: Day to day Motion graphics as an editor
on Feb 27, 2011 at 6:33:34 pm

Hi

Id ideally like to get into television drama or documentary if that helps. I would also be perfectly happy working in corporates as well. Also as I live over in the UK so we dont really have local stations. Thanks for the reply David.


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David Johnson
Re: Day to day Motion graphics as an editor
on Feb 27, 2011 at 6:57:41 pm

For the most part, neither television drama or documentary editing requires much in the way of special fx, mograph, animation, etc. Both types of programming typically have show opens and promos that are created once by a mograph/animation specialist and re-used for every episode. The editors typically cut the body of the shows and only do things like episodal titles, transitions, etc. in the style consistent with the open, promos, etc., which usually doesn't require the same specialties as the people who make the opens, promos, etc.

So, it just depends on which of those roles you'd prefer ... it sounds like you're more interested in the editor role than the specialist role. Program editors are often staff positions, while specialists are often freelancers ... there are pros and cons to both.


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David Johnson
Re: Day to day Motion graphics as an editor
on Feb 27, 2011 at 7:01:00 pm

I tried to reply, but it got blocked because I used a word that refers to people who specialize, but also contains the same letter sequence as a popular pharmaceutical product that's often in SPAM messages.

I'm sure it'll show up eventually.


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Jon Fidler
Re: Day to day Motion graphics as an editor
on Feb 27, 2011 at 7:25:32 pm

Thanks David

Im sorry if my question is rather vague and indescript, ill approach the question from a different angle. For all of the guys here who are primarily editors but have to do motion graphics work in your day to day workflow which software packages do you use. Is it mainly AE or Motion or do you use things like Photoshop and Illustraor if so what for and for lack of a better word how complex is the work you have to do on these packages.


Thanks


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David Johnson
Re: Day to day Motion graphics as an editor
on Feb 27, 2011 at 8:56:08 pm

No worries, Jon. I understand that these are difficult topics to discuss in writing, rather than conversation.

Although my job covers a very wide range from producer to studio manager and everything in between, I am an editor and have been for many years. As it relates to being an editor, I consider my primary tools to include Final Cut Pro, Premier Pro, After Effects, 3D Studio Max, Photoshop, Illustrator, Audition, Sony Sound Forge, Sorenson Squeeze, Telestream Episode, DVD Studio Pro and Encore DVD, along with probably a couple dozen other ancillary programs. However, for several reasons, I think the names of the tools in one's toolbox are irrelevant. For one thing, my list was different 5 years ago and will no doubt be different 5 years from now. Also, specific tools depend largely on an individual editor's needs, experience, preferences, budget, etc.

Part of what I mean with that last part is that, for example, I've been using After Effects since it was made by Adobe's predecessor Cosa. So, for me, it made no sense to switch to Motion after so many years. Similarly, it use to be impossible to do mograph without using After Effects, Photoshop & Illustrator together, but AE now has most of the functionality we use to need the other programs for. So, I think an editor should at least know the basics of Photoshop and Illustrator, but a deep knowledge is not nearly as critical as it once was.

If you prefer Motion, go with it ... again, the specific tools are irrelevant ... they come and go, but the principles remain the same and are transferable.

Another part is individual preferences. I've never liked doing titles, mograph, compositing, audio, etc. in my NLE even though most now have basic capabilities for those tasks (FCP is my primary NLE). I also prefer the interoperability amongst programs from the same developer and it seems unlikely Photoshop or Illustrator will be dethroned any time soon, but again, in most cases only the basics are necessary anymore.

How complex the work is depends entirely on one's individual circumstance ... if you're a TV drama or documentary series editor, in some cases you might be expected to also make all the show opens, promos, etc. ... in some cases, you won't.

I hope this helps.


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Jon Fidler
Re: Day to day Motion graphics as an editor
on Feb 28, 2011 at 8:54:51 am

Thanks David that was spot on in terms of what I needed to know


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David Johnson
Re: Day to day Motion graphics as an editor
on Feb 28, 2011 at 12:29:43 pm

I'm glad you found my opinions helpful Jon. Best of luck.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Day to day Motion graphics as an editor
on Feb 28, 2011 at 3:01:13 pm

Jon, I have looked thru all the manuals and all the drop-down menus of my apps, and none of them has an option labeled anything like: "make this a brilliant design".


Owning the tools and even learning the buttons to push, still won't give you the actual skill. And the tools come and go. What I think you really need is not hardware or software, but wetwear. That is, additional education and training in art, specifically principles of design. That kind of training is the only kind that doesn't become obsolete with the next release number. You can apply the knowledge to any platform.

How you do it is all up to you. You can get by with extensive reading. You can take correspondence courses or web tutorials. You can take a night school class in it. Take guided tours of art museums. However you can afford the time and money, any little bit will help. Until you have built up a background of basic principles and techniques, or a vocabulary to even discuss them with, you're always going to feel a little behind the curve on this thing. On the other hand, even a small gain in subject knowledge of this area begins to immediately pay off on the screen with improved quality of your existing work. So it is worth any effort you expend in that direction. Never stop learning.


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grinner hester
Re: Day to day Motion graphics as an editor
on Feb 28, 2011 at 3:40:34 pm

Today's video editor needs to have great story telling skills as more and more sessions are unsupervised. He wears the hat of post production supervisor from the time capturing starts to distribution of the final product. Then there is making that final product. It includes sound design, visual design of elements, the animating of those elements and the creation of any effects needed to tie everything together. One dude.
This said, you'll still find few editors with 3D skills, for whatever reason. It helps. I can tell you the more skill sets you provide, the more you will bill. If all of this feels like it's a different path, focus on that path in your head and make changes to get there. Today's post producer is dang near a courior. This may be a more comfy role for you... nothing wrong with that. When I work with a producer, most of the time, they drop off elements than I see em the next morning when they pick stuff up. They may give me some verbal direction before heading to the mall on the clock but never more than that.



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Jon Fidler
Re: Day to day Motion graphics as an editor
on Feb 28, 2011 at 7:24:09 pm

Thanks for all these replys guys for something so unspecific you really have been on the mark with the answers. The design and composition part is not really an issue. Its when it comes to actually designing all the specific elements that I start to feel out of my depth. I cant draw at all never have been, im sure I could handle basic stuff like logos but does it generally ever go past that sort of stuff.


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adam taylor
Re: Day to day Motion graphics as an editor
on Mar 1, 2011 at 2:34:45 pm

all excellent replies, so my answer will probably reflect those already given. Oh well...

Its a difficult market in which to specialise these days (especially here in the UK - we have a much smaller pool of work to all dip into than in the States).

Every skill you can develop will ultimately help you get the career you want. Thats what you need to decide - not what traditional definition you want to follow, but what really flips your switches. Learn all you can, then try mould your career to fit your choices (as best you can - very few are fortunate enough to have the perfect job)

The role of Editor seems to have evolved over the past decade.

Twenty years ago, i worked on lowband umatic machines with awful quality images and heavy cumbersome tapes and cameras. All was linear, so if you changed your mind about earlier cuts, then you had to re-edit your entire sequence. Graphics were bought -in at astonishingly high prices, and captions were very basic text overlays. It was still a relatively new field for corporates, and as a result a lot of very cheesy effects got thrown at videos (some things never change!).
Some CEOs could afford the first vhs camcorders, so you had the first wave of "clueless clients who think they are Speilberg"


Twelve years ago, I was sat in a tv news edit suite, cutting anything that was thrown at me, but not having to worry about graphics - we had a dept for that. Colour grading was a matter of checking your video levels on the Beta SP machines.I cut pictures, told the best story i could with the shots the cameraman caught and the words the journalist wanted to use, in as short a time as possible. A great way to hone your edit decisions process...but be prepared for the "proper" facilities house to sneer at you as a lowly news editor. They have little respect from other edit depts.
Now everyone has a camcorder - what do we need an editor for?

Then i moved into Animation - where editing a 10 min show took 3 months, as we only got 12 secs a week per animator. It was shot to the frame, so editing was little more than paste up. The video editors actually spent more time as audio editors. The online was done at a specialist facility, where the editor had no editing to do, just painting out wires, dust busting and colour grading.
Here comes the internet - editors will be old hat soon. News is being cut by the journos now.

As software/hardware gets cheaper, companies expect the talent to do the same, so they tend to employ people who have the abilities to do more roles, and thus save a wage or two.

For me, I have been lucky over the past 20 years that i worked in a variety of places where i could hone lots of different skills.

Now i am a one stop, one-man Commercials post-production facility (video editing, motion graphics, sound design and sound mixing, color grading, final outputs, station submissions, I have directed commercials and recently finished my first fully cgi commercial (which i also modelled and animated in C4d)).

Everyone carries an HD camcorder on their phone...still no-one knows how to use it properly. Now i'm the specialist - my boss acknowledges that and defers to my experience most of the time. Phew - its taken long enough!

You could probably count the number places like mine on one hand - I work for one company (not a tv company but an advertiser, making all their tv commercials (last year i had over 400 clocks on air), and i do all the post - for me its a perfect job (most of the time!!).


Its worth noting that i got here by getting bored at my other jobs. After 5 years doing the same thing, I found my brain wasn't being challenged. My solution was to learn other skills on an evening. Whilst editing i learned all about sound mixing by reading magazines, trying things out at home, and asking and watching dubbing mixers during sessions.
Then i found my job became more audio oriented, so to keep sane, i found myself learning to composite at night, teaching myself Shake and After Effects.
Now i'm learning Cinema4d.

All these (and many other skills) are now part of my everyday arsenal, and i now find that I doing the work i dreamed of 20 years ago, i just got here a very different route than i would have imagined.

Don't worry about Motion or AE - they are just tools to achieve an end. They work in similar ways so you can transfer your abilities when required.
You should aim to develop your knowledge and analytical skills regarding all aspects of post-production - they all have an impact on each other, so the more you know, the better prepared you are for whatever job you get. Even if you don't know the immediate answer, you should have learned enough to be able to find the answer quickly.

sorry for rambling - your seemingly innocent question seems to have sparked a mental enema...it all just came pouring out.

good luck with whatever path your career takes.

adam

Adam Taylor
Video Editor/Audio Mixer/ Compositor/Motion GFX/Barista
Character Options Ltd
Oldham, UK

http://www.sculptedbliss.co.uk


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David Johnson
Re: Day to day Motion graphics as an editor
on Mar 2, 2011 at 12:57:14 am

Yours is also an excellent reply, Adam, so don't be sorry for rambling ... personally, I find listening to others ramble among the best ways to learn. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


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