Posts Tagged ‘ Avid ’

Students, Take Advantage of Your Resources

I stopped by my old undergrad. alma mater today to meet some of my friends there for lunch.  One of them happened to be my old boss, who was in the process of upgrading the video editing suites to some nice, new, dual-processing Mac Pros (instead of the old G5s).  What’s sad is that most of the students that use those machines are never even going to scratch the surface of what it can do.

Students, if you’re earning a degree in media, film, or communications, and you’re focusing on any kind of post-production, you need to understand something big:  YOU ARE THE ONE ULTIMATELY RESPONSIBLE FOR DEVELOPING YOUR SKILLS!

The Mac Pros down in the old editing suites I used to call home have Final Cut Studio equipped on them, and one will be running Avid Media Composer as well.  Most of the students who use those computers will never get beyond Final Cut Pro because that’s as far as the post-production class they sign up for takes them.  Take that path, and while you may be good at Final Cut, you’re going to find that you’re not equipped to handle what’s going to be asked of you in the field.  (Take it from me, I learned that the hard way.)  You should learn as much as you can about that software.  It will make life much easier in the future.

If your school has a suite of programs like Final Cut Studio, knowing 1 of the 5 key programs isn’t good enough.  If you had to learn two more, I’d say they should be Soundtrack Pro and DVD Studio Pro, so you can edit your picture and sound well, and get it out onto a well designed DVD.  (Because that killer demo. reel you make has to be on DVD for those who ask for it!)  You’re school doesn’t offer classes in those programs?  Use any tutorials that the program might have come with (like Motion), or invest the $35-$50 in your skill set and buy a training book in the program.  Load up the media to your external drive and book some time in the suite to really put the program through it’s paces.  (Just be sure that the programs you’re using are the same generation as the files that are with your book.  If the files are newer than the program, they won’t work.)

That’s why I developed this summer of intensive self-directed study.  I know that I’m a great Final Cut Pro editor, but my audio editing skills left a good deal to be desired.  So I’m going to fix that.  I’m going to diversify myself and learn a new editing platform.  I’ve gotten better at still manipulation by practicing in Photoshop.  I’m going to emerge from this summer as a force to be reckoned with in post-production.

Know why?  Because it’s a buyer’s market right now in the employment world.  And the buyer’s (those that would hire you) are using that as an opportunity to truly seek out the best talent they can.  So prove to them that you can really meet their needs.  They’re not going to hire a separate person for video and audio editing in a market like this.  They’re going to hire someone who’s good at both.

So make sure that you’re not just coasting through your degree program.  Work hard, and push yourself even harder than your professors push you.  It should be your goal to be that shining star in your department.  Make sure that you have the skills employers are looking for.  And make sure that you’re taking advantage of the wide range of resources that are at your disposal.

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Checking In: Training Update and A New Network Resource

First of all, apologies for my long absence.  The past month can best be described as living, eating, and sleeping at my day job, as 1 member of our small 5 member team was out for weeks on end for an unspecified reason.  Everything has just gotten back to normal, and I’m back to my summer of intense professional development.  Appropriate, as summer as only just begun, technically.

So what have I accomplished thus far?

Well, to start, I’m finished with the first 3 lessons in Soundtrack Pro, which means I know now to eliminate background noise, beeps, pops, and (more importantly), hums from faulty audio equipment.  I’ve also discovered that SP’s spectrum view makes sound look absolutely beautiful.  I’ll continue with Soundtrack as soon as I get a few hours on my own to record some dialogue in a quite apartment.  Although, to be honest, it has more to do with feeling embarrassed about talking into a microphone when there are other people around.  From there, I’ll move on to dialogue replacement.

I’ve also more or less maxed myself out on Photoshop for the time being.  The remaining lessons I haven’t completed are on some of the new heavyweight features like 3-D imaging.  I don’t need those features at this point in time, so I’ll count my thorough understanding of the tools and how they work, and a solid grasp on masks and layers, and how to manipulate both, to be a firm foundation on which to start making some stellar images.

I’ve now moved on to Avid.  It took most of the month, but I finally got the editing of the Avid training book that is made to match up with my system.  Although technically speaking, past editions of Avid books can be used on the newest systems, when you’re already thoroughly confused by the interface you find yourself staring at, it’s usually best to find the book that will most closely match what you’re working with.  Now that I know the simple little tricks to the basic editing functions, I can assemble a rough cut in Avid quite easily.  I have little doubt that I’ll find myself becoming comfortable with the system quickly.  After all, I’m not building a foundational knowledge of editing, rather, I’m learning how to do the same things on a different system.  All looks to be on track to start talking about the heavy stuff once the fall semester begins.

Where will I go from here?  The next two programs I’ll pursue will be DVD Studio Pro and Color.  They are a fitting combination.  Final Cut Pro aside, DVD Studio Pro is the part of Studio that I know the most about, and Color is the part of studio I know the least about.  I don’t foresee being able to start those two until the fall.  I think that the current course that I’ve set myself on will keep me busy for the next few months.  My goal is to cut the next several videos for Issues on Avid, rather than on Final Cut.

In parting, a nice new networking find to let you know about.  If you’re in the NY area and have gone to any film events at NYU recently, you’ve probably heard of a group by the name of Massify.  It’s part sounding board, part job board, part filmmaker resource.  I’ve been building a profile over there for the last week, and as soon as my most recent video clips finish converting, I believe I’ll be ready to submit for some work in the NY/NJ area.  I find the layout to be really smooth and easy to navigate.  If you join up or are already a member, feel free to come find me.  I’m looking to build a network of people interested in the stuff I do (which, once I got it all on one screen, is a lot of editing in a bunch of different areas.)

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.

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