Archive for the ‘ Avid ’ Category

Using Job Postings to Inform Your Training

(A recap of last night’s BigScreen, LittleScreen is coming tomorrow.  Felt this was more important to post tonight.)

I’ll admit that I’m frustrated that it seems like video editors aren’t advertised in most of the places I’m looking for a job.  However, I’m still making sure that I’m moving in the direction I need to in order to be a valuable editor for any team I work with.

I’m reading job postings for top jobs in post-production – not to apply for the jobs (which I am in no way qualified for without a wealth more experience), but to see what they’re demanding of their applicants.  Why?

Because in today’s economic climate of higher unemployment and more job seekers, employers can be more demanding.  They’re out looking for the perfect applicant for the role, and they’re describing these roles in detail.  Even though I know exactly 1 person at NBC and no one at HBO, I can tell you that NBC uses Final Cut Pro for their editing, while HBO uses Avid, but is also interested in Final Cut, as an example.  I know what kinds of experiences their looking for, which will influence the kind of work and projects I will seek out.  In short, I’m using these extremely demanding job postings to make myself the top person.

I’ve recently completed my quest to create a monster of a computer by ordering the last piece of software necessary – AfterEffects.  My notebook now runs Final Cut Studio 2, Avid Media Composer 3.5, Adobe CS4 Design Premium, and Adobe CS4 AfterEffects.  I can train myself to be a very talented editor now, and can prioritize in the way that meets my needs most immediately, because I have all the software at my fingertips.  Avid and AfterEffects are the two big programs I’m learning to master now.  I’m also working on Soundtrack Pro to improve my audio editing.  Although, I must say, I’m a bit disappointed by what Adobe deems to be advanced editing in AE – I learned about particle emitters and replicators in my second lesson in Motion over 2 years ago.

In short, if you’re an editor looking for work and the jobs you’re seeing are beyond your reach, don’t just ignore them.  Use them to figure out what employers are looking for and run with it.

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Networking to Find Solutions

Well, last post I was feeling very intimidated by Avid.  I posted as much on my Twitter account, and was happy to find support and advice from friends and other professionals who follow me.  In general, I found that few of them like Avid more than FCP – it’s just a necessary part of the job because it’s so prevalent.  They encouraged me to keep plugging away at it.

My friend Sean, who is also assistant director  of Issues, told me he understands the frustration, as he’s fought with both Avid and FCP in the past.  During an IM conversation, I told him my doubts about whether or not I could grasp this software without paying for Avid’s rather expensive training.  ($550 is quite a bit when you’re yearly salary is only about $12,000.)  I had thought that since Avid didn’t publish any training books, I wouldn’t be able to find one.  He urged me to go onto Amazon and look.  He knew there were books that would do what I wanted, just didn’t know their names.  After getting some sleep (Sean and I tend to have most of our conversations very late at night), I looked yesterday morning.  Low and behold, I found a highly rated beginner-to-intermediate training book on Avid MediaComposer, and it includes media to practice with.  The book is currently en route from it’s seller in Missouri, and I’ll have it by Monday.

For those who may be interested, the book I’ll be using is Avid Editing: A Guide for Beginning and Intermediate Users, and more information on it can be found at Barnes & Noble.  The book normally retails for around $50.  I found a private seller who was trying to get it off the shelf, and so got it for a bit less than that.

So I’ve found training for Avid, and only paid $30 for it.  Much more appetizing than the $550 I was originally looking at.  I feel more confident in my ability to learn the interface now that I have direction and specific projects to work on.  If I just fumble around on my own, I doubt I would learn as much, and I doubt I would enjoy it.  Instead, I like the feeling of accomplishment when I finish a project and see that it turned out exactly the way it should have.  It’s what keeps me going with Photoshop, and it’s what got me through my basic training in Motion, using the built-in tutorials.

In short, I’m beginning to shift my focus in social networking.  My Facebook is for friends only – mostly ones that I have met in person, though there is one exception.  Twitter is mainly becoming for my professional life.  I do follow and talk to friends on my Twitter feed.  But I spend far more time talking to other professionals.  In fact, the creator of Life After Lisa, a web-series based out of Balitmore, and I have been talking rather frequently.  I’m hoping to meet up with her next week when we’re both in New York for Internet Week.  (We plan to bond on both being turned down by a group we were hoping to get screened by.)  My network is making life easier for me, and more enjoyable.  I love talking to other people who do what I do.  I feel like we can often work in pretty isolating circumstances, so it’s always wonderful to be able to connect with them.

The Challenge of Learning New Skills

I’ve set some very high goals for myself this summer.  I’m not taking any classes towards my Master’s Degree, as they aren’t really offering any of the ones that I want.  Instead, I’m focusing on heavily diversifying my skill set.  In the past 2 weeks I’ve acquired Adobe CS4 Design Premium, and Avid MediaComposer 3.5.  My goal for the summer is to gain a familiarity with Avid, since I will be using it to do some rather advanced editing in the fall.  I am also aiming to become proficient in Photoshop and Flash over the summer, and to build a familiarity with Dreamweaver, so I can give my site a truly custom layout.  Wordpress themes are very  nice, but I feel that they aren’t really suited to building a site that will really amaze people.

Photoshop has not proved much of a challenge yet.  However, upon starting Avid today, I was immediately faced with the fact that learning this new editing system will not be easy.  For someone who has been editing on Final Cut Pro for 8 years, it’s quite a culture shock to suddenly start using a completely different system.  I now understand the frustration editors must be feeling when their companies switch systems.  (Some major stations in my area have switched from Avid to FCP due to cost issues.)  I’ve built an extremely efficent workflow in Final Cut, which is in part due to the fact that their user interface has been very consistent .  I’m personally hoping they keep it the same in the next version as well.  It just works beautifully.  While I have no doubt that I can build an equally efficient workflow in Avid, I know that the initial culture shock is going to really set me back initially.  I’m used to being a pretty darn good editor, and I’m a bit uncomfortable with the idea that I’m not on Avid.

Regardless, I’m determined to push forward with it.  I have all my source footage from Issues, Season 1.  I’m planning to gain practice by recutting some of the episodes and trailers in Avid.  I already know what the final composition of those pieces should look like, so I feel I can really focus on the interface and learn it.  It’s much more symbol driven than FCP, which is the first thing I’ve noticed.  When I have the $550 it takes, I’ll sign up for the online training that will get me extremely proficient with the system.  For now, I’ll muddle through on my own.

I think one of the principle challenges to editors expanding their skill sets and really diversifying their abilities is cost.  I could not have afforded to do any of what I’m doing right now (learning Avid, Photoshop and Flash) if it weren’t for my rather unique circumstances.  My employer does quite a lot of business with Adobe, and as such, was able to secure copies of CS4 Design Premium to give to employees who had completed Adobe training in the past.  And I was able to buy Avid MediaComposer 3.5 utilizing their extremely generous academic discount.  My employer also affords me discounts on PeachPit Press training materials.  PeachPit also offers discounts to customers who have shopped with them in the past, independent of my employer’s affiliation with them.  That means the total cost for CS4, Avid MC, and Adobe’s Photoshop and Flash training books was $300, which I was able to fund with my tax refund, so it means no additional debt for me.  (Which is good – I’m still paying off my camera.)

My situation, which I wouldn’t wish on anyone because it’s not financially sound or healthy at all – has afforded me a rare opportunity to work with the best software out there for little to no cost.  By contrast, most editors must pay hundreds or thousands for training on these systems.  The one piece of advice I would offer to all of them to is utilize self-paced, independent training if they own their own software.  $550 will give you a year of access to Avid’s training resources, including all the classes you need for MediaComposer certification.  Apple and Adobe’s training books give you media to practice with, and typically cost $30 to $50 per book.  It puts training much farther in reach than classes.  (Apple’s cost ~$600 each, and Avid’s can run upwards of $2,000.)  It let’s you work at your own pace, which I find invaluable when I’m learning new software.

Another option is to think about taking some money and subscribing to Lynda.com.  A Lynda membership runs ~$375/year.  With it, you get unlimited access to their training library.  I have access to it through a work account, and have been highly impressed by the video based training they offer on Apple and Adobe products.  They offer a truly amazing range of training.  Like the books, Lynda gives you media so you can work along with the instructor with their premium membership (which is the price I quoted above).

Know of another good, affordable means of training yourself?  Feel free to leave a comment.  I’ll post them to my site and share them with my groups on LinkedIn so we can start building a decent database of options.