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Aspiring editor

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Andrew Marasco
Aspiring editor
on Sep 22, 2011 at 6:51:03 pm

Hi I am currently a college sophomore at a local community college in california with a few questions. I have a love and passion for film and film editing and wanna get into the professional world.

I currently own no professional video editing software. I was lucky enough to go to a school where Final Cut Pro was an option for us to use in high school. My community college does not have comparable equipment or classes worth my time for film. With all the recent criticism towards Apple and Final Cut Pro X, I am lost as to where to start. Should I buy Final Cut? Should I look at Adobe CS5 Production Premium suite? Or should I try and get Avid Media Composer? I am currently working off of a 2010 Macbook Pro.

I am also wondering about my next step of education. I have plans to transfer out of my community college in Northern California and move down to the Los Angeles area. Unfortunately, finances are a big issue for me when looking at schools. I have heard good things about CSU Long Beach. I didn't know if anybody had any suggestions of schools to look at?


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Mark Suszko
Re: Aspiring editor
on Sep 22, 2011 at 8:12:42 pm

Rule number one is get a great reel. You only do that by actually EDITING. SO find stuff to edit, make up stuff to edit, whatever it takes, get together a great reel, or everything else I'm, telling you is useless.


To make yourself widely marketable, learn both FCP-x, which is cheap to own, and buy an academic copy of the Adobe suite and learn the heck out it and out of AfterEffects especially. And when you can put a few hundred together, take a commecially-provided intro course on how to use an Avid. So you can at least say honestly you handled one, a little.

To learn one NLE is to essentially learn them all, the differences between them are relatively minor and the underlying principles mostly the same.

Unfortunately, up and coming editors often hit a brand-name wall during the interview process.

I think really smart facility owners look beyond specific platforms to see what kind of creativity and skill your reel shows, they know they can train you up pretty fast on platform "Y" if you only know"z".

But these more enlightened guys are way outnumbered in the marketplace by folks with a brand-specific plug and play team mentality. Meaning, the Avid-owning shop that wants an Avid guy that can go to work in the next five minutes, be productive from day one, and not cost them a week or more to cross-train. Or the FCP shop that disdains a Premiere user as incompatible. Which is dumb because Premiere and FCP7 are almost like fraternal twins from a functional perspective.

But they want what they want. And in this economy, in this market, they can easily afford to be selective and biased like that. Your only way to fight that is to have as wide and eclectic a set of skills as possible, on as many platforms as you can manage to work with. I'm talking about entry-level, now.

When you get enough years in, it will no longer be as much about how many platforms you know, as it will be about what one hyper-specialized niche app you are the genius user of. Be that colorist, compressionist, compositor, music composer, VFX guru, 3-d magician, whatever it is.

At that point, you will make your big money from big clients that want the very best guy/gal at (name of tech here) to do this one very abstract and arcane thing that nobody else had the stomach to read five yards worth of manuals to learn how to do on their own time. It is those guys and gals that come up with the wild innovative new effects or looks that end up in Blockbuster movies and Superbowl spots that the rest of us spend the rest of the year trying to emulate for our clients:-)

But that's far in your future. First, you gotta get work, any kind of work. For that, be as much a generalist as you can; know a little about everything, and know where to find out more when you need it. While playing at generalist, you will build a list of the disciplines and subsets that turn you on the most, that you have the most innate skill in or get the most personal enjoyment from. That points the way to your possible highly lucrative future niche.


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Andrew Rendell
Re: Aspiring editor
on Sep 22, 2011 at 8:59:24 pm

I guess I'll have to get a reel someday, I still haven't got round to it yet - been too busy over the last few years ;-)

I totally agree that if you learn one NLE thoroughly you can transfer your editing skills to any other NLE very quickly and in the long run it's your editing skills that are important rather than what NLE you use (but it's also true that not everyone sees it that way).

But it's also important that you can get stuff done according to the brief, get it done quickly and be a "good" guy to work with and that can be something of a Catch 22 when you're starting out. Sadly most people don't hire hands-on assistants much these days, but if you can find a position even for a short time assisting an experienced editor it'll be well worth while.


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Andrew Marasco
Re: Aspiring editor
on Sep 23, 2011 at 4:05:33 am

Are there places out there to find footage to use to put a reel together?


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Mark Suszko
Re: Aspiring editor
on Sep 23, 2011 at 2:07:49 pm

There are stock footage collections, obviously. For a young person without many resources, I might point you towards Creative Commons-based sources. Really, your imagination is the limit. Have you seen the re-cut movie trailers for West Side Story and The Shining? Brilliant demo of creative editing skill, I couldn't tell you what NLE that guy cut the horror version of West Side Story on, but I will say without reservation he's a brilliant editor.







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Mike Silverman
Re: Aspiring editor
on Sep 25, 2011 at 9:25:39 pm

I am in a somewhat similar position to Andrew M. and am interested in any additional advice you may be able to give me. I am looking to find work as a professional editor for a medium to large sized production company. I have been out of college several years and spent about 3 years editing with Final Cut Pro for a very tiny production company cutting shows for a cable access station in a small town in Virginia. I then left that company and have spent the past year running a one person production company in a slightly larger town where I've been able to figure out that I really do not enjoy the production side as much as I enjoy post-production.

I am now looking to move to a city such as Richmond VA, Washington D.C., or another medium sized city if I can find a job as an editor.

The information that has been provided in this thread already has been very helpful to me.

I have a few questions I am wondering if you would be able to answer:

Do editors that are just starting out often need to find second jobs just to pay the bills?

Do most production companies require editors to work 60 plus hours a week, late into the night?

Is it ideal to move to either LA or NY to have a career as an editor, or is that only if you want to work on TV shows or Hollywood Films?

Thanks!

-Mike


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Mark Suszko
Re: Aspiring editor
on Sep 26, 2011 at 2:26:40 am

I would say that New York and LA are not the entire world, much as they would like to think so. Yes, you go there is you desire to become "famous", but there is plenty of work that needs doing in smaller markets with less competition as well. And one might argue that your chances for making a living are better in markets outside of the Coasts, just from he standpoint of less competition.


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Mike Silverman
Re: Aspiring editor
on Sep 26, 2011 at 3:03:36 am

That's good to know as I don't really want to move to either of those places right now. I appreciate the advice you gave about not focusing so much on which NLE to learn because that's been a big concern of mine after FCPX came out. I am learning Premiere when I have time to do so, and will likely do the same with Avid MC. I got the sense from your previous post that at this stage, being a "well rounded" editor could be a good thing. And I'm sure that once I find my niche, I'll be able to specialize more.


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Matt Doe
Re: Aspiring editor
on Sep 27, 2011 at 4:34:51 pm

Washington DC is actually a great place to look. With Discovery Channel (and all its related networks) HQ right outside the city in Maryland, and with companies like National Geographic downtown; there are a lot of opportunities.

I've been working in the post business in DC for just over 5 years, I am currently at online editor and colorist for a large scale broadcast production company (will have done close to, if not more than, 50 hours of broadcast work this year) just outside of DC.

I got my first job right out of college at one of the largest and well regarded post houses in DC at the time. Granted, it was not what you think, I worked in their shipping/account management department for most of my first year labeling tapes, answering phones, doing whatever else needed to be done. It was a full time job, and it got my foot in the door. 5 years later, I wouldn't change a single thing. I'd do it all over again.

When I started out, I wasn't making very much, but then again, I was in the shipping department. Over time, as I expressed my interest and showed the skills I had through outside work and weaseling my way into any form of editing/post job at the company, I was able to move up in position and pay.

I am a firm believer that if you want something bad enough, you will stop at nothing to get it. Did that require more than 60 hours a week, you bet your ass it did.

Get your foot in the door anyway you can, work your ass off, no matter what the position is, even if it's shipping tapes, ship the hell out of em.

Through that, good things and good pay will come. I can 100% attest to that.



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Rocco Forte
Re: Aspiring editor
on Sep 26, 2011 at 8:02:50 pm

1. Know editing. This means, learn the software and be good at making cuts. Have a great reel, be fast, creative, know sound, music, timecode, formats, codecs etc.

2. Know post production. This means, learn about large scale workflow involving audio shops, effects guys, video duplication and so on. The best way to learn this is get a low-end job in a post house.

3. Know people. This means, learn to meet people with whom you can develop mutually beneficial relationship with, specifically: you're their bad-ass editor; they like to pay you generously.

The "better" you are at all those three elements combined, the better editor you will be. Let one slip and you weaken the overall organism. #2 is probably the easiest followed by #3 then #1, I'd say.

Best of luck.


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grinner hester
Re: Aspiring editor
on Sep 26, 2011 at 8:38:12 pm

Andrew, you aducation revolves around you, not a jr college.
If you want to be an editor today you'll have to know FCP, Avid and Premiere. If embarking on your own content, you can select your favorite NLE and anhere only to it but to be ,arketable as a editor in the market place, you'll simply have to be comfy with any room that presents itslef, as a freelancer or a staffer. That's the easy part though, right? I mean a monkey can l;earn the buttons. You want to market yourself so that folks in hiring positions feel they need you. That comes from confidence and that comes from knowing you have your own look and vibe and people need and want that. Time in the chair will provide that, my friend and nothing else. It may be that the time you are spending in that jr college could better be spent creating the reel that will get you and entry level gig. That gig is what will lead you to the rest of your career.



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Richard Herd
Re: Aspiring editor
on Oct 11, 2011 at 9:28:04 pm

You should take an acting class, so you can understand dramatic beats. It doesn't need to be a semester long thing. A class at the local theatre is a great place to learn by doing. Also it's a great place to meet actors.


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Richard Herd
Re: Aspiring editor
on Oct 11, 2011 at 9:29:25 pm

Oh yeah...many actors also need a reel cut, which you could do.


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