Archive for the ‘ General ’ Category

Thoughts on the IAWTV and Streamy Awards

I may have to change the name of this blog since I spend so much time talking about things that are out of the sphere of an editor.  However, being that I am also a producer, production manager, and anything else that I pick up along the way, I do spend a decent amount of time thinking about the rest of the web television industry as well.  This is going to be one heck of an entry everyone.  My apologies.

As some of you may know, the 2010 inductees into the IAWTV have been chosen (though not officially announced), as have the crop of shows that are up for the 2010 Streamy Awards.  After watching everything play out over the week so far, I’ve been able to form an opinion of the proceeds, and I must admit that I’m not entirely happy with them. Continue reading

Importance of Media Management

Although he doesn’t update often, I do always enjoy a post on Norman Hollyn’s blog, The Editor.  I was going over his archives a little while ago while my boyfriend rode – and I’m not kidding – a dragon skeleton roller coaster through hidden world 8-7 in Super Mario Bros. Wii, when I found a post that really should be shared with you all.  It concerns a skill that Hollyn is quite right in saying most independent editors don’t have: media management.  (I’ve seen some interesting systems working with some of my clients.)

What is media management?  I’ll let Hollyn describe it:

What is media management, you may ask? It’s the ability to organize all of the footage (whether it’s picture or sound, camera-shot or visual effects created, and more) in a way that makes it easy for anyone else to find and use it. That means that original material is sorted and saved in bins and folders in a very specific way for an assistant editor who is working on a show with a lot of visual effects, but entirely differently for the editor on that show. It means creating and executing a workable system that is appropriate to the personnel and the project that you are working on. A music video should be organized differently than a commercial, which is set up differently than an action film or a television show.

I highly recommend that anyone who isn’t familiar with media management to have a look at the article.  It’s a huge skill to have, and it makes any project you take on – for yourself or another – much easier to deal with.  I know I’ve talked about how I’ve organized Issues before.  Raw footage went into folders organized by episode.  Clips were labeled with Episode number, Scene number, Angle number, and Take number.  So the first Clip was labeled Ep1Sc1A1T1 (or something to that effect), and so on.  Because the scripts were labeled in the same fashion, anyone who picked up a script and looked for a clip could find it.  And they didn’t have to troll through hundreds of clips, because each episode has a folder.  If there had been an excessive number of takes, I would have made subfolders for each scene.

That is media management.  And let me tell you, when I migrate my files to a bigger hard drive, it makes it a hell of a lot easier to reconnect all that media next time I fire up a project.  Just a further incentive, beyond the ability to get an assistant editor’s job.  😉

Thoughts on Must-Carry

It appears I do these updates in batches.  I’ve been settling into my new semester, which has left me quiet of late, but I saw some news today I simply couldn’t ignore.

Cablevision, a cable provider serving the NY metro area, is seeking a Supreme Court hearing over must-carry laws.  If you’re unfamiliar with them, must-carry laws mandate that cable providers must carry local television channels.  The laws were created so cable wouldn’t destroy local network television.  Cablevision is arguing that competition is now significant enough that the networks should be able to survive on their own.  The case concerns a network trying to expand it’s coverage into new areas – which Cablevision opposes.  I’m not even sure I agree with it, but I do see the potential havoc that can be unleashed by a Supreme Court decision in favor of Cablevision.

Cable providers still enjoy de fact monopolies in some areas.  For example, here in Somerville, you can’t get Time Warner, Verizon or Comcast.  You’re choices for television are Cablevision or DirectTV for satellite.  My apartment building isn’t friendly towards satellite dishes, so my choices are Cablevision.  That’s it.  So if Cablevision doesn’t have to carry my local stations, where am I supposed to get them from?  Likewise, if you live in some parts of Manhattan, you have Time Warner, because they have control of that area.  So a supreme court decision that would drop must-carry laws could put local networks in jeopardy.

See, television is in trouble.  Their audience is leaving for the internet, and they’re having a hard time pulling in to ad dollars they used to.  Subscription models like HBO don’t use ads, but customers need to have a cable service hooked up to get them.  Cable providers and networks alike are looking for ways to cut costs.  That led to the retrans battles we saw between Time Warner and Fox as well as between Cablevision and Scripps Networks at the start of the year.  NBC and whoever exactly owns them at this point in time are facing pressure from local affiliate stations to get their act together and start delivering the ratings, and add dollars that follow them – which is what lead to the disaster that got Leno back in the Tonight Show and caused Conan to leave NBC.  Les Moonves at CBS has said that he would explore the idea of dropping affiliates and turning CBS into a cable channel instead.  All of these moves are efforts to bring in money, because the amount of money television is making is going down.

In Somerville, we’ve never really had local news.  Cablevision operates News12, which is unique to northern NJ, but that’s as local as we get, and if you don’t have Cablevision, you don’t have News12.  Most of the time local here means NYC local stations.  But if cable providers don’t have to carry local networks, would it keep News12 around or keep sending NYC news to Somerville?  And if they didn’t, how would a station start meeting that need for us?  We’re stuck with Cablevision’s service since there are no competitors here.

What about areas of the country that aren’t packed like sardines onto land like we are hear in the NY Metro area?  For them, local news may be based out of the next big city, or if they’re in that middle point, they may get networks from the nearest 2 major cities.  While I went to college in Ewing, NJ  I got both NYC and Philadelphia local stations.  It was wonderful.  But if cable providers don’t have to carry local television stations, will those areas keep getting local stations?  Or will cable providers instead seeek to reduce their costs by dropping the networks altogether?  It may not now, but I double television profits are going to drastically improve any time soon.  We may see brief spikes, but I’m convinced the trend is heading clearly down.  So once things get desperate, you can kiss your local stations goodbye.  They’d be the first things to go since they appeal to the smallest group of people.

So this ruling could fundamentally change the face of television.  I’m frankly worried, because this court seems far to friendly to large business considerations, and not friendly at all towards smaller interests, especially in the wake of last week’s campaign finance decision.  Let’s hope the Supreme Court gets this one right and makes sure our local stations are safe.

Thoughts on Graduate Study

I’m in the midst of some very serious life decisions. As I’ve alluded to a few times on this blog, I currently attend graduate school. The serious life decision I’m debating is that of leaving my current school, and resuming study at a different facility after a healthy amount of time I need to get my personal and professional lives more on track. I’m lucky enough to work for the coolest company I can think of, and they were good enought to give me a promotion recently. Because of that promotion, I now work in Manhattan, which is looking like it will prompt a move to Queens or the Bronx in the spring. I have a great boyfriend and some wonderful friends who share my passion for producing content for the web. And we have a bunch of ideas developing.

And what I’m realizing now is that the graduate program I’m currently in doesn’t really contribute to those areas of my professional life. Which makes paying $10,000 a semester to attend said program feel slightly ridiculous. And while there is an MFA program at NYU I am very interested in, I don’t feel like I’m at the point, professionally, where that MFA makes sense. An MFA for me is a way to work on some projects with people who are just as passionate at me, and to gain the credentials to teach at the college/university level. I already have some passionate people to work on projects with, and I’m not ready to teach.

Graduate school is a big question for an editor or any other filmmaker. It’s an enormous investment to make, and you need to be sure that it will really benefit you. I entered my program thinking I could make it something it wasn’t. I’m realizing that now. I’m also learning that there is such a thing as having too much going on in life. And I’m accepting that adding to my student debt is not in line with the rest of my priorities right now. I’d rather work at bringing some of the truly fun projects I have the priviledge to work on to fruition. I’m petitioning for a leave of absence from my current program to really give myself time to make up my mind. More as it unfolds.

Considering a Change of Title

I’m going to commit to making shorter posts on a more regular basis.  To make a large blog post takes me a while: researching, writing, fact checking, editing, peer reviewing.  I never post a full entry without someone looking it over first.  It makes things a bit difficult to handle.  So I’m going to aim at a shorter format.

For today, I’m mulling changing my title from Video Editor to Filmmaker.  The more general title would be more fitting with what I find myself doing, which right now is a lot of pre-production work more in line with producing.  I also feel like I could write more that way, as my attention is drawn all over filmmaking and video production.  As you know from my last post, I’ve been getting my feet wet with cinematography, which has been very interesting.  Starting in January, I’ll really be developing skills as a producer as well.  Time will tell.

Today’s post is just this general musing.  Getting ready to move to a new day job up in NYC tomorrow, and using today to rest up.  Just wanted to touch base with all my readers out there.  I’ll have another quick one this evening.  Keep an eye out!

Studying Cinematography to Study Editing

Well, I’ve been quiet.  Things have been hectic, as I’m getting ready to switch jobs and transfer to full-time work in NYC.  Not as an editor yet, but I’m hoping the move will give me a chance to get more into the game.  I’m also starting to amass quite a nice library of books on all aspects of production and post thanks to my classes, recommendations from my Twitter contacts, and others.  The one thing I’m finding very helpful in increasing my vocabulary of what makes good edits and good films is to study cinematography.  Because I can manipulate a shot to a degree, by tweaking the color, punching in a bit, or applying a filter, I’m spending a decent amount of time learning what makes a good shot when it’s captured on the camera so I can try to recreate them in post if a scene calls for it.

I’m getting 2 books that I’m hoping will help me learn a bit more about cinematography, both recommended to me by The Independent.

1.) Master Shots: 100 Advanced Camera Techniques to Get an Expensive Look on Your Low-Budget Movie

2.) The Five C’s of Cinematography: Motion Picture Filming Techniques

When I’m working with Scott Napolitano on Issues, I’m usually on set, and in the past, I haven’t felt like I could accurately describe what I thought would make a good shot.  This is an attempt to solve that problem, and broaden my idea of what makes a good shot, and what sets up a good cut.  If you’re in a similar boat, try reading up on Cinematography.  It may improve your communication with both the director and the DP, if you have a chance to interact with them before production is wrapped.  Once I have the books, I’ll post an idea of how they’ve helped me.  I’m also reading The Invisible Cut, which was assigned to me by one of my professors this semester.  It’s a wonderful book that breaks down scenes from famous movies to teach you some of the basics of editing and how to do it well – that is, how to make it invisible to the audience.  Feel free to check them all out!

Ruminations on the Finances of Freelancing

Well, things at both the day job and my freelancing have been on the move.  Just shipped off a load of 12 DVDs I was hired to author from a camp I taught.  Hopefully will be reimbursed for those camps soon.  I’ve spoken to the creator of another web series about the possibility of doing some re-edits in the near future for a screening, and have been contacted to be a freelancer for a small company in Missouri, so I’ve got an experiment of remote editing on the horizon.  In the day job, I’ve officially applied to a job at another store that will hopefully be more in line with what I like to do there (teaching and problem solving as opposed to selling).  I’m also hoping it will bring more hours, and consequently more money.  I’ve been thinking of the idea of financial security for freelancers lately.

In today’s economy, while it is slowly getting better, money is still hard to come by for a lot of people.  I’ve wanted to go full tilt into freelancing, but am still at the day job.  Why?  I can’t afford not to be.  With most of the work in the NJ/NY area paying little or nothing, I need a source of money from somewhere.  Even the day job just barely let’s me break even on personal expenses – and thank god my student loans are in deferment while I’m in school.  I had hoped to make interest-only payments while I was getting my M.A., but there’s not enough cash on hand for that.

So my recommendation to everyone who is thinking of freelancing is to make sure you have a 6-12 month fund to get you through if the market heads south.  Most financial shows recommend 3 months of funding for the average individual.  But we’re not average, we don’t know what the paycheck will be on the next job, or when the next job is coming.  Without that fund, you’re in deep trouble if work dries up.  With that fund, 6-12 months, you can be more relaxed, and play hard ball more effectively.  You won’t feel as if you need to take any job that comes to pay the bills.  I’m looking to transfer at my day job to help me establish a fund like that, as well as start putting away for the down payment on a car and a house.  Once I have that fund in place, I’ll feel safer leaving the day job.  I wouldn’t have panic attacks over money like I do now.  I’d be able to take a step back and plan for the long run more.  Right now, it’s a battle to survive the 2 weeks between the paychecks from the day job, which is only part-time.

So in the interest of your sanity, your credit, and you’re ability to work on the best possible projects, establish that fund.  6 to 12 months may be excessive, but it’s a good safety net.  Not only will it let you deal with dry spells between work more often, but it can absorb the impact of a large financial hit even when business is good.