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Re: Oscar irony

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Scott Sheriff
Re: Oscar irony
on Mar 2, 2012 at 4:51:34 am

[Oliver Peters] "I think these tool analogies get a bit wacky. Editing is both craft and art. The closest analogy would be musicians and their signature instruments."

Craft, yes. Art, no. I know many of my brothers out there see the first violinist playing some heart wrenching solo, and think that somehow they are in the same category of talent and skill, a type of elite artist. Unfortunately it just isn't true. Anyone can learn to edit. Anyone. I know a color blind editor, and there are editors whose eyesight is so bad they are legally blind. Back in the CMX linear days myself and another editor taught a friends wife who had no previous media production experience how to online edit in about two months, in our spare time after hours at work. Without any other training whatsoever she was able to land an editors job in our top 20 market. One of my interns learned the system in one semester and went right to work as an editor at a competing station without even graduating. But not everyone can learn to play, lets say, the violin, let alone play well enough to do it for a living. Even with a lot of natural skill and a good ear, to play at the concert level takes years of learning and practice. Most professional musicians start playing as young children, playing continuously into adulthood before they are even considered good enough to play at a concert level. Many of the big name editors didn't even know what editing was until the got to college. At that same point of career development a concert level musician has been playing for over a decade. But still what those folks at that level do isn't really art, since art is subjective. A skill which has no standards. There are standards for playing a musical instrument. The term virtuoso means an individual who possesses outstanding technical ability. So that means there is a standard to be judged by. Artist is such a vague label, anyone can call themselves an artist. You don't even have to sell anything to be considered an artist. The day you want to become an artist, you simply start calling yourself one. Try waking up some morning and declare yourself a virtuoso, and attempt to earn a living as such. Good luck with that. Lots of art doesn't even require any skill, or even require being human. There are several zoo elephants that paint, with the most famous being the now deceased Ruby. There are things like tramp art, and war trench art. Both are a type of folk art made with found objects, by untrained artists.
Then there is a skilled tradesman like a high end finish carpenter. The kind of guy that can take a dead tree, and turn it into a thirty thousand dollar conference table. You simply can't just wake up one morning and decide to to become that either. But because its a learned trade, just like editing, anyone can learn to do it, but it takes time and patience to develop the skill. Unlike the musician, it really doesn't require any inborn ability, other than a desire to do it. There are standards to be judged by, like how well the joints fit, that type of thing. Just like we have standards for how well things fit together. As an editor, you can't simply ignore technical standards in pursuit of 'your art'. You are much more like the tradesman who must use his skill to balance the technical requirements against the desired outcome, and choose the appropriate tools to accomplish that task. Which is different than an artist who is free to suddenly change tools, materials or whatever and whenever, on a whim. And no matter what comes out, it is still art.
Tradesmen, like the carpenter or the editor don't have that amount of freedom and must work within the constraints of the job. I know how some hate analogies, but if the artist, had to work like the editor. He would be free to choose the brand of brush, but would still have to use a brush, and would still have to use paint. Where the artist is free to paint with his fingers, and paint in his own blood if the mood strikes him to do so.
So while editing can be used to create art, it is not an art. And the editor is not an artist. He, or she is a craftsman.

Scott Sheriff

"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair

Where were you on 6/21?

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