Posts Tagged ‘ General ’

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.

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!

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.

Why Networking is Worth It

Sorry for my unexplained absence. Kids and video cameras, a truly exhausting combination. I’ve got another 2 weeks with them, but hopefully I’ll be more functional now that I know what to expect. Thank you to everyone who’s stopped by to read in my absence. I was expecting to find my stats flatlined, and while they are much lower than when I was writing regularly a couple weeks ago, there have been visitors every day.

So, here I am today to give you a reason why networking (especially social networking) is really worth your time. I just got work on a second series because of my contact with the creator. I’ll publish details when things are more finalized, but it’s refreshing to know that barring serious unforeseen problems, I’ll have something new to work on. How did I meet the creator of this show? Her show started following my show on Twitter. I followed her show and her show followed me back. We then hooked up on Massify, which is a wonderful site for anyone looking to build a nice little portfolio of their video work.  So far we’ve solidified my interest and arranged a meeting through direct message on Twitter.

Know why it worked?  I’ve been talking to this creator over the span of a few months.  I am also quite a fan of her show, so the idea of editing it makes me very happy.  But the point is, even though we spent a lot of time talking about 80s music, we were still talking.  Good things happen from talking.

If you still haven’t jumped on the social networking bandwagon, I say to go for it.  Start small.  I think Twitter is a great place to start because it helps you really focus on your message: after all, only 140 characters to get it across.  There are tons of sites that create ways to introduce you to people.  I’m a fan of Mr. Tweet, myself.  There are also lots of sites that will help you monitor how you use Twitter and how you can be more effective.  As you get used to the idea, definitely expand out.  LinkedIn is a good professional social networking site, so it’s best used to connect with colleagues and friends working in other companies in your industry.  Facebook can be useful too, just be very careful with it.  It’s very easy to let your Facebook account sort of get away from you.  I sat down not too long ago and retamed it, taking out content that didn’t work for me anymore, and being a bit more critical of all my connections.

So yes, all the talk about social networking being good is true.  It just takes some effort on your part.  Although as you get the hang of using them, they don’t feel so much like work.  In fact, I have plenty of fun with my Twitter account.  And Facebook.  And it’s fun meeting people in my field on LinkedIn.  So go for it!  Good things can happen from social networking.

Why You Need to Be Good at Compression

As an editor, I know you’ve made a special study of compression of your final export, right?  If not, it should be one of your big priorities.  Why?  Because you’re ability to export a properly compressed file for the medium you’re using to broadcast can make or break the visual quality of the project.

Examples: I’m aware of a lot of shortcomings in the first season of Issues.  However, one of the things that I know we did right was our decision to shoot the show in HD.  It gave us a beautiful, crisp, sharp picture, and it allowed me a lot of flexibility to manipulate the footage as I needed to.  All of the Issues footage was shot in high def. except Jared’s web videos, which were shot with the built-in camera on my MacBook Pro because we wanted it to look like a webcam.  Shooting on a webcam was easier than degrading HD footage to look like a webcam.

However, if you go back and watch the first promos that were released from Issues, you see 4:3 picture in relatively poor quality.  Why?  I didn’t compress it correctly.  It’s a mistake that I corrected as the series went on, and the episodes are all appropriately sized for the computer screen with sharp pictures.  It took some trial and error to get it right – I wanted a precise understanding of which format worked best.  I could have taken the easy way out and just compressed for iPhone, and did at the beginning, but I’m now able to custom program the settings I need to get the show up on the web and looking good.

I’ve been thinking of this for a while, and it came back to me forcefully yesterday when watching the first episode of Bleeder, a new web-series about a hemophiliac taken in by a group of vampires.  I found the show because Sarah Croce, who plays Jane in Issues, plays Daisy, one of the leaders of the vampire clan.  The story line is very intriguing and I’m interested to see how it develops over the next several episodes.  My only critique of the show at this point is technical.  For a show shot on a RED One camera, the picture quality appears low in the finished version.  I’ve become spoiled by my own show, and am looking for that same sharp quality in other shows now, especially if the story is engaging and intriguing.  I would love to see Bleeder in HD, because I know several of the neighborhoods they’re shooting in, and I want to soak in all the detail of those locations.

Compression is tricky, and isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of thing.  Online video sites such as YouTube and Vimeo help out by describing what specs. to use for good results on their sites, but in other circumstances, you’re going to need to know what settings will give you the best picture for your medium.  To give you an idea of how important compression is, I constantly exported 3 formats of each episode of Issues, one for our website/podcast channel, one for YouTube, and one of HD DVD quality.  So if compression isn’t something you’ve given a lot of thought to, I’d recommend that you start now.  If you don’t have access to a compression program like Compressor or Sorenson Squeeze, a $30 investment in QuickTime Pro (for you Mac users) will give you much more control over your videos.  Having a properly compressed video will mean that your audience is spending their time more engaged in the story because there are no distracting visual elements to detract from it.