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bachelors degree worth it in this field?

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Tyle Renake
bachelors degree worth it in this field?
on Apr 4, 2011 at 3:19:52 pm

Hello,

I currently have an Associates degree in Film/Video production and have been working in the field for about 5 years. I find that most jobs i find and apply for ask for a bachelors degree. Though I'm doing good with work experience and have worked for big companies like A&E, I was wondering if i should truly invest the money and go for the bachelors.

My goal is to become an Editor, and I have a good deal experience in this field. Perhaps i should just become Avid Certified instead, which would look better?

All in all, just curious about your opinions, and what you are looking for when you hire individuals. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Thank you


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Tim Wilson
Re: bachelors degree worth it in this field?
on Apr 4, 2011 at 4:25:10 pm

[Tyle Renake] "I find that most jobs i find and apply for ask for a bachelors degree. "

You've just answered your question.

There are a lot of passionate pro- and anti-college sentiments you'll see throughout this forum, and indeed, some of the most visionary and successful people I know don't even have high school diplomas, but this is the one and only thing you need to know: most jobs you will apply for ask for a bachelor's degree.

Period.

Don't let the hype take your eye off the ball. Nobody has ever said, wow, I really blew my chance to NOT go to college! Dang, I have too much education! What an idiot I was to try to get a broader context to life, knowledge and experience!

[Tyle Renake] "I find that most jobs i find and apply for ask for a bachelors degree. "

And guess what? Very few people stay in the career they got into in their 20s. Most of those next jobs will be looking for people with bachelor's degrees too. That's why, when you study, study broadly.

Get your degree. It will pay for itself many times over. Perhaps in your very first job.

Keep your eye on the ball. In this day and age, the point isn't how YOU, or anybody else here, feels about college. It doesn't matter even a little bit. Here's the only thing that matters:

[Tyle Renake] "I find that most jobs i find and apply for ask for a bachelors degree. "

Again, all respect in the world to everyone who makes it through SELF education and force of will, and building their own resumes one drop of blood at a time. Fooey on narrow-minded HR drones and short-sighted bosses.

Tough. Needing a degree will be more true over time, not less.

Let the passionate debate start here, and I assure you that it will.

Before I go, did I mention that

[Tyle Renake] "I find that most jobs i find and apply for ask for a bachelors degree. "

Yr pal,
Timmy


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Andrew Rendell
Re: bachelors degree worth it in this field?
on Apr 4, 2011 at 7:08:20 pm

What exactly do you mean by "become an editor"? I know it sounds like a dumb question, but staff or freelancer, major broadcaster or independent film, these things can make a difference. I'm freelance and my work is a mix of regulars and new clients - the regulars don't care about qualifications because they know me and the new ones only care about my resume and a couple of phone numbers of people I've worked with so that they can ask about me before engaging me on a project.

I don't have a degree. I dropped out of college with no idea what I was going to do and got a job as a runner at a small TV production company, thought "this is for me" and badgered the biggest broadcaster in this country (I'm in the UK) until they gave me a position as a trainee in the technical department, which gave me a brilliant mixture of classroom and on the job training to become an online editor in tape suites. I eventually left the broadcaster, but that training has been vital to my having a career as an Editor, even though I don't have a piece of paper to prove it.

Doing it this way is tough though and even a persistent b*st*rd like me would have a hard time getting started now - I came into this twenty odd years ago, when you couldn't do a degree in anything to do with media and the companies were interested in wider experience than just educational qualifications. The situation is different now, it seems like everyone and their dog have a degree and without one you'll have a real hard time getting those first couple of jobs that will give you enough experience for formal qualifications not to matter anymore. I can only recommend that you go to college and get that degree.


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Steve Martin
Re: bachelors degree worth it in this field?
on Apr 5, 2011 at 12:21:17 am

Tim,

I think you hit the nail on the head. I would only add that in my experience of getting an degree (not in production, but in Marketing) what I learned more than anything was how to think and re-think.

As a person who is now in a position to hire people, I like folks with 4 year degrees because they have demonstrated a variety skills and characteristics:

That they can stick with a goal for a number of years even when some of the classes (and/or professors) may have been useless - perhaps like some projects and clients.

That they have a well rounded education and can hopefully relate to wider variety of people (again, like clients)

Production is fun - but lets not forget: Nobody ever died on the video table!


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Hunter Hempen
Re: bachelors degree worth it in this field?
on Apr 4, 2011 at 7:14:14 pm

Probably depends on the college/university offering the degree as well. I'm down in the bootheel of Missouri and the equipment is less than impressive. Your professors might be excellent teachers, but if the administration is too stingy to provide the proper tools for learning, then I'd say it's a must that you educate yourself outside of class while you're at it. Go learn today's trends in addition to outdated ones the course provides.

Ironically our university marketing department just made a huge purchase on HD cameras, computers, and LED light kits, whilst our TV/Film students still fiddle with standard definition/tape based equipment.

I don't have enough experience to know if a large part of the industry still heavily relies on tape-based functionality, but I feel as though we're being left in the dust.

Just be sure to account for that, IMO.

-----
Too bad she won't live! But then again, who does?
-Gaff
-----


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Andrew Rendell
Re: bachelors degree worth it in this field?
on Apr 4, 2011 at 7:27:29 pm

I don't think you should worry too much about having the latest kit. Camerawork is about framing, focussing, exposure, getting the stuff recorded in a range of conditions, editing is about assessing pictures and sound and putting them together in ways that are meaningful, etc. In some ways, having "yesterdays" kit and learning how to get the results you're after from it is better training than having the latest stuff (as every advance tends to make things easier) - once you've learned how to shoot, record sound, edit or whatever, it's actually quite easy to transfer your new found knowledge onto new kit when the time comes.


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Hunter Hempen
Re: bachelors degree worth it in this field?
on Apr 4, 2011 at 7:38:18 pm

Perhaps my expected standards of education are a bit too high and unrealistic. :P

-----
Too bad she won't live! But then again, who does?
-Gaff
-----


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Mark Suszko
Re: bachelors degree worth it in this field?
on Apr 4, 2011 at 7:40:23 pm

In religion, the parallel argument to our situation perhaps is the debate between salvation via "faith alone" versus "faith plus works".


I'd say a B.S. in Liberal Arts and Sciences would be invaluable to anyone: most of the fortune 500 CEOS have one. Even if it didn't have a concentration in the subject of production, it represents that fact you made and succeeded in pursuing a 4-year commitment, during which you picked up critical thinking skills, the ability to learn HOW to learn, and some background skills that will be of use in a video position as well as in general business.

A certification in operating a particular piece of technical hardware or software doesn't compare to that, IMO. Especially since nothing about a tech certification promises you have even a modicum of aesthetic ability in USING the tool. Any more than teaching you how the airbrush works makes you a commercial artist. It can only be considered a beginning. That's why a killer reel and references will trump a certification and no reel or references every time. You want to ebcome an editor? START EDITING. As well as learning about and even copying what great editors before you have done. The greatest painters of our history all apprenticed to someone and spent long hours copying the experts' work, until they learned intimately the rules of how to create art, and THEN, they each broke away to make the skills they acquired uniquely their own.

We're in a business where the means of production radically change at a rapid pace. Survivors have the ability to adapt to rapid change. I was "certified" when I got out of school around thirty years ago to operate a number of very specific and niche-use pieces of production gear... and every one of them pretty much is history now, long gone. I've forgotten most of how to program a Chyron VP-2, run a Convergence linear edit controller, adjust back-focus on an image orthocon based camera sensor, splice quadruplex tape, disengage the comparator of a Mark II interociter... Yet I still draw a check, a larger one, even, because the basis of my knowledge is not limited to a specific piece of metal, but in the underlying priciples and techniques and processes, and the ability to update the skill set as required.

This is why we have two sort-of career tracks to get to similar goals in our biz: an academic-based track, and a practical-experience-based "hard knocks" track. Either one can be valid for a particular individual. And neither are mutually exclusive of the other: my "book larnin'" included hands-on practicums, labs, and internships that were just as important in forming my skills as the background lectures on theory and history. If you're a hard-knocks type, an "auto-didact", you enjoy the hands-on enough that you probably also go looking for books and things to learn more about what you do, for the fun of it.


There's no "wrong" answer here. Just what works for you.


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Malcolm Matusky
Re: bachelors degree worth it in this field?
on Apr 4, 2011 at 8:24:52 pm

Education and training are two different concepts; education lasts a lifetime and training becomes obsolete quickly.

You need both to be "employable" Though, training may get you a job, education will make you promotable over time.

Malcolm
http://www.malcolmproductions.com


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Mark Suszko
Re: bachelors degree worth it in this field?
on Apr 4, 2011 at 9:45:06 pm

Darn it Malcom, how am I going to get rich getting paid by the word, if you go and encapsulate my thoughts in two sentences?!?!?!

:-)


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Richard Harrington
Re: bachelors degree worth it in this field?
on Apr 5, 2011 at 1:06:29 am

A degree shows a completely different skill set than certification.

When I see a bachelor's degree, especially with good grades attached. It shows the ability to follow through. I also feel that the person is likely to be a bit more well-rounded (especially useful as editors need to know a lot about a little if they are to connect with their subject).

A degree also increases the chance that someone has decent writing and math skills (or at least functional).

Manufacturer certifications are good too, they give me confidence that the person will be efficient with a NLE. When combined with a good real, its a nice distinguisher.

Richard M. Harrington, PMP

Author: From Still to Motion, Video Made on a Mac, Photoshop for Video, Understanding Adobe Photoshop, Final Cut Studio On the Spot and Motion Graphics with Adobe Creative Suite 5 Studio Techniques


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grinner hester
Re: bachelors degree worth it in this field?
on Apr 5, 2011 at 3:33:17 am

A great reel and awesome attitude are what get ya gigs and jobs. A degree will seldom come up in this industry. Mine has never gotten me a job.



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Tyle Renake
Re: bachelors degree worth it in this field?
on Apr 5, 2011 at 4:22:47 am

Wow, more responses than i thought. Thanks everyone.
Having the degree wont really hurt anything besides my current
wallet. Then again, keeping on the path I've been on isn't bad
either. At least this gives me a few options to think about.

Thanks for your opinions!


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Richard Herd
Re: bachelors degree worth it in this field?
on Apr 5, 2011 at 5:00:04 pm

To do it all over again, I'd make my own degree up. Most Universities have programs for that too. I would take the following:

-- Drama, because that's really what the audience relates to, all these tools serve the drama. There's two kinds of courses, here, so take both: being on stage and also reading plays.

-- Accounting, not just business stuff, but actual accounting, because that's where the money literally is; that means you might need to take prerequisites like math.

-- Poetry, because being able to write in an imagistic way is exactly important, things like metaphor, synecdoche, and meronym all deal with turning words into images

-- Film Editing, because you should get some critique and direct instruction on aesthetics and technical vocabulary

-- Photography, even if the program offers cinematography, I would still take photography in addition to cinematography. Also since "videography" is not really a word, I would avoid programs that use that term. (Okay that's kind of a joke on my part, but not really...)

-- Motion Graphics, because you can't be an editor without some Motion Graphic knowledge and those expressions can get tricky


***

I find myself this week in a position of hiring someone, not an editor, mind you, but an assistant. For that, I need a strong guy who can carry my equipment and also who would like to learn more, who works fast, doesn't make the same mistake twice, and doesn't need every sentence to have a please or a thank you (because we're moving fast, no time for egos).

If I was hiring an editor, I would want to see his or her reel first and the education wouldn't matter. But I do think that getting the *right* education will make your reel better. Moreover, there's two kinds of clients: one client will look over your shoulder while you edit and try to be a part of every cut (a silly waste of time in my opinion). The other client will let you go do. Having said that, the editor I would hire has great people skills and an emphasis on client service; the editor does not impose his or her style onto the client's project; rather, the project and client needs dictate the outcome. That notion of "client dictates the outcome" is exactly what you learn in the University.


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Tim Wilson
Re: bachelors degree worth it in this field?
on Apr 5, 2011 at 6:39:10 pm

[Richard Herd] "-- Accounting, not just business stuff, but actual accounting, because that's where the money literally is; that means you might need to take prerequisites like math.

-- Poetry, because being able to write in an imagistic way is exactly important, things like metaphor, synecdoche, and meronym all deal with turning words into images

-- Film Editing, because you should get some critique and direct instruction on aesthetics and technical vocabulary "


Great stuff, Richard. I'll add some anecdotes from my specific experience.

Most of your math will be word problems. You have to be able to wrap your head around the actual issues before you can make calculations. In fact, in my Physics classes, we only had to come up with the equation. As one of my teachers said, a monkey can solve it from there. But in addition to accounting (agreed, a must), old school algebra will come in handy.

My favorite math joke: a calculus major, when you turned to her to split the bill for lunch - hey, it's your major, right? - would stare blankly at you, and say in complete seriousness, "I don't do finite math."


Precision elevates your work. And more than any other kind of writing, poetry is precise. Think about even low-level forms like limericks. 9 syllables, 9, 5 5, 9 - 9s rhyme with each other, as do the 5s. You can't get away with just anything. You have to think it all the way through, and if you can't get it right, you start again.

But also precision of language. I was an assistant to a teacher, an older woman quick with a randy wink, who wouldn't tolerate anything that lacked specific images. She also insisted on memorizing poetry. "Start with this one," she said, by Robert Herrick, 1591-1674.

WHENAS in silks my Julia goes
Then, then (methinks) how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.

Next, when I cast mine eyes and see
That brave vibration each way free;
O how that glittering taketh me!

Love it.

Training your ears will train your eyes. Specific images.

Watch and learn. I think you should spend more time watching movies than cutting them. Almost to a one, the great filmmakers are film WATCHING nerds. Scorsese would be the first to tell you: skip the films of Michael Powell at your peril.

Magic. A guy who has written a couple of articles for Creative COW Magazine told us that sleight of hand was the best thing he ever learned, because it taught him how to direct people's eyes in the course of a narrative.

Not related to any of these, but I always like to note that Full Sail, one of the hardest of hardcore industry-specific training facilities, won't let you touch a computer before you've mastered a pencil. Life drawing for everyone, period.

Last observation, following Mark's: when I went to school, there was no such thing as a personal computer. Computer graphics was a field beyond arcane. Virtually nothing that exists today existed then, certainly not a job like anything in the COW job listings. Heck, as recently as 1998, you couldn't even edit text in Photoshop!

The job that made me the most money: yeah, I had visual chops, but a monkey could too. What vaulted me over everyone else was my knowledge of geology and biology. There's no such thing as "I'll never use that after I leave school," not if you're paying attention.

And then there was that class in symbolic logic, which I could take as a math credit - how hard can it be, right? It was the hardest class I took in my entire education.(You could also take a 5th semester of Greek to substitute as a math credit. Ever try it? There's a REASON why it's a math credit.)

So the symbolic logic teacher kept hammering on you if you only got half way through an argument: "Necessary, but not sufficient." You laid the foundation for an argument. You didn't actually MAKE the argument.

The degree is necessary - you already pegged that - but not sufficient. Do the rest of the work to get the rest of the way there.


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Richard Herd
Re: bachelors degree worth it in this field?
on Apr 8, 2011 at 5:11:45 pm

I love Linguistics. Everyone should read The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker.


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Jim Biffle
Re: bachelors degree worth it in this field?
on Apr 5, 2011 at 10:10:48 pm

Tyle,

I often wondered the same thing after I graduated from college. My first two jobs in the industry did not require a degree but did prefer one. As it turned out I worked with lots of folks who had no degree but could do amazing work! It wasn't until my current job that a degree came into play. If you didn't have one you weren't even considered for the job. So, I think it boils down to which type of job you are going for.

Having a degree is never a bad thing as other people on here have pointed out. Looking back now I'm glad I got a degree and wouldn't change that for anything. It's something nice to have on the resume.

As for the certifications, that is a mixed bag. I posted a similar question on this forum about software certifications. Here's a link if you would like to check it out. Lots of good responses.
http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/17/872443

I can tell you it hasn't helped me any yet but, it is nice knowing that I earned that on my own and can put the Adobe logo by my name. Sorry if that sound egotistical because I'm not meaning to but it did give me a great feeling of accomplishment.

Hope this helps you out a little.


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Kai Cheong
Re: bachelors degree worth it in this field?
on Apr 6, 2011 at 2:51:24 am

I have an Honours degree in Communication Studies - which meant I studied Advertising/PR, Journalism, Research & Broadcast - before I chose to major (in Broadcast). To put it in the local context, I don't think it's necessary to be employed in the industry - and I think there are more Polytechnic graduates in it anyway. But I wasn't dead set on going into the industry when younger & knew I wanted a university education... Kept my options open. 

After graduating, like many of my peers, I lament that we were taught too much theory & too little technical skills - unlike our Polytechnic peers who also have the advantage of starting work younger/earlier. 

But 5 years into my job as a Preditor, I'm beginning to see the value of a more holistic education (plus, as someone had commented above - the value of learning how to learn & the discipline to complete a 4-year course.) Maybe it's also because I deal more with Corporates & outreach/marketing/facilitation videos with communication focus - that's why the knowledge of communication theories, different kinds of journalistic writing, target audiences & ideas like USP, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (heh) come in very handy.

I'd like to think these plus my bilingual skills have helped me along in my editing (and producing) by bringing an additional understanding & awareness to the script & communication objectives. It has also given me the confidence to correct factual, grammar & structural errors to scripts while editing. Perhaps the jobs you are applying for are more along these lines than more "creative" work?

I remember working with experienced editors (when I was a wee intern) who probably wasn't strong in languages... And it was a horror when dealing with projects with lots of supers or subtitles - Typos! Out of context! Glaring errors! It might be the producers' job to watch out for this but when deadlines are looming (as they always do), I think an editor who has the additional education/understanding can help a lot.

Though I also do wish clients could see & appreciate the additional value-add I bring to the table sometimes... That I'm not just an edit monkey ;)

Kai
FCP Editor / Producer with Intuitive Films
http://kai-fcp-editor.blogspot.com
--
Now 'LIVE'! Check Out The Intuitive Films Blog @ http://intuitive-films.blogspot.com
At Intuitive Films, We Create: TV Commercials, Documentaries, Corporate Videos and Feature Films
Visit us @ http://www.intuitivefilms.com
--
MacBook Pro 2.4GHz | 4GB RAM | FCP 5.1.4 | Mac OS X 10.5.7

8-Core Intel Mac Pro 2.26GHz | 8GB RAM | FCP 6.0.6 | Mac OS X 10.5.6 | 3.0TB CalDigit VR | 2 x 24" Dell S2409W


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Tyle Renake
Re: bachelors degree worth it in this field?
on Apr 6, 2011 at 1:59:10 pm

I really do believe my only dilemma is time and money. Ofcourse I dont want to wait till im too old to get the degree. At least it's very easy nowadays to keep up with the industry via the internet (And especially the internet).

I'm keeping up with the things i should be doing, Looking for creative freelance work, adding to my reel, keeping up with the growing technology, trying to network.

The field i "want" to be in is creative editing, which, as I understand, is a lot about reels and connections. However, my current field, that I see as my Safe and Backup Career, is working in Network TV. (This is the field that having the degree would really help me advance in, and at some point, may leave me stuck in a position if i don't have one)

Hey, it could also be my location that's killing me. There's not much creative film/video work in CT, but there is a lot of news and broadcast stations.

It's funny btw that Tim mentioned Full Sail, that's where I got my associates and was thinking about pursuing my bachelors.

Anyhow, I do think I'll go for the degree, at least it will assist with getting interviews!

Thanks everyone!


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Richard Herd
Re: bachelors degree worth it in this field?
on Apr 8, 2011 at 7:42:37 pm

[Tyle Renake] "I really do believe my only dilemma is time and money."

You said it!


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Scott Cumbo
Re: bachelors degree worth it in this field?
on Apr 7, 2011 at 3:37:35 am

You say you worked for A&E, so I assume you live in NYC.
As an editor in NY, no one cares if you have a degree.


BUT getting your foot in the door is not easy. And the easiest
way to get your foot in the door at any post house is an internship.

Good Luck

Scott Cumbo
Editor
Broadway Video, NYC


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Mike Cohen
Re: bachelors degree worth it in this field?
on Apr 7, 2011 at 3:46:44 pm

I got my first editing job thanks to what I learned while pursuing my bachelors degree so my response is perhaps biased.
In the early 90's you could not learn video production without access to someone's facility unless you had rich parents. I suppose my parenrs could havee spent 60 grand and bought me a BetaSP camera but I learned a lot in college having nothing to do with my field but everything to do with being prepared for working and living
Mike Cohen


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