Posts Tagged ‘ networking ’

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.

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Work/Life Balance for a Video Editor

I’m making an attempt to better balance my work and the rest of my life.  My reasons for this are to get into shape, be healthier, have a more positive mood, and put a little distance between myself and my computer.  Why?

Because I work a day job that involves selling and teaching people how to use computers.  Then I come home and sit down at my computer, where I spend the rest of my day reading, researching, blogging, chatting, networking, editing, writing, and such.  On a day off, it’s not uncommon for me to only leave my desk to eat, use the bathroom, and occasionally pick up a book and just enjoy sitting next to my boyfriend on the couch.

My computer is my livelihood.  I need to make sure I’m not spending so much time at it that I begin to not like using it.  I think that’s a risk that lot of people who work on computers often face.  So what am I doing about it?

I’m joining a gym to actually get some physical activity into my daily life.  Being in the North Jersey/New York region has it’s benefits, and I’ve chosen to join the New York Sports Club, which has branches easily accessible from home, work, and school.  My goal is to go from just thin to thin and in shape.  (Don’t ever assume thin people are in shape.  I can only run in 2 minute stretches and can’t do a push-up to save my life.)

I’m also making sure I’m getting out and networking in person, rather than doing all of my networking at the computer.  On Thursday night I’ll be up in New York for the BigScreen LittleScreen monthly Web TV meeting.  There is another branch that hold these meetings monthly in Los Angeles.  It’s a chance for me to talk to other people who are doing what I’m doing and what their ideas are.  It’s also a chance to find another show that’s looking for an editor.  With Issues still firmly in pre-production, I’m rather antsy for a project to work on.

Other than that, I’m trying to take a daily walk when weather permits, to get out of the house.  I’m trying to plan small events with a few of my friends rather than the epic events we normally try to plan with everyone involved.  I’m keeping an eye out for local events that may just be fun to go to.  (I’ll be cheering my boyfriend on if he decides to enter a wing eating competition next weekend.)  And let’s not forget that I’m joining Toastmasters so I meet people that are out of my industry as well as developing my public speaking and leadership skills.

I’m by no means abandoning any of my computer related activities.  I’m just making sure that my endless wasted hours of not really getting much of anything done are at least spent helping me in some fashion, whether it’s to improve my health, decrease my stress, or meeting some awesome new people.  Just because we editors very much need our computers to get through the day doesn’t mean our whole day should be devoted to them.  My goal is to be that person everyone else is a bit jealous of because they  have everything sorted out into its place and their happy as a result.

One of my professors at TCNJ warned me that you never what to spend so much time on your passion that you risk turning it into just a job.  That’s my goal.  To make sure that my life is varied enough that my passion for editing and good storytelling doesn’t ever become just a job.

Death of the DVD Demo Reel? Looks Like It.

Is the DVD Demo Reel already dead?  Alan Shisko of Effektor has claimed so on his blog back in September.  He stopped by Digital Production Buzz to follow up on this idea in their latest weekly podcast.

So, to summarize Alan’s initial argument:  The internet has killed the DVD demo reel.  DVD reels are expensive to produce, if you’re out to make a good looking DVD – between the disc label design, quality cases, and mailing.  You might update it once or twice a year.

The internet, according to Alan’s argument, is less expensive and more dynamic.  You can update it anytime, and you can create customized reels for viewing on a variety of platforms – computers, iPhones, other smart phones, etc.

I think that Alan hits it squarely on the head.  I get my work seen by posting it on the net.  In several places.  At any given point, my show reel can be seen on my website, as well as on Vimeo, and massify.  I’d link to them here, but thats what the side bar is for.

So what makes a good demo reel?  Alan says the first thing to keep in mind is to be wary of putting in too much.  Keep it to your best stuff, even if its only 30 seconds.  It must grab and hold the viewers attention.  Don’t assume that people watch all the way through, so make sure that the first thing in your reel hits hard.  Put a quality piece at the end for those who do watch all the way through, but the priority seems to belong up front, since most viewers will make up their mind about your reel quickly.  Keep your name throughout the reel, so at any time someone can find you.  Alan uses a burn/watermark in the corner of his screen with his name and url.  A handy trick I’ll have to keep in mind as well.

And how to market yourself?  Lots of it is advice I take for granted, as someone who grew up using the internet.  Start or join a user group.  By this, Alan means a group that physically meets near you to discuss your field, and fields intimately connected to it.  You may meet some valuable contacts, and may gain some clients out of it.  Alan’s user group is based in his home of Toronto.  I’m hoping to join the Final Cut Pro user group in New York in the very near future.  Also, never underestimate the power of keeping a good blog.  I know you guys like to click on the links I give you.  And I know some of you have visited my site.  I do apologize for the layout.  Still looking for the right design, although I think this is an improvement over the last one.  Blogs make you known to a wider group of people, and can also lead to some interesting connections and discussions.

Also, be active in online groups and forums.  I know LinkedIn has many groups for media professionals.  I belong to most of them and vary my involvement in each depending on the topics in conversation at the moment.  I have met some wonderful people on LinkedIn through those groups. If you know of a group that is related to your discipline, see if you can’t perform a demonstration for them at a meeting.  It gives you a chance to showcase your skills and educate others, which is a powerful way to interact with colleagues.  When you are seen as knowledgeable, you will command far more respect that someone who simply there, for lack of a better word.

The final point that Alan makes is to always treat your clients and coworkers well.  Word of mouth can be a powerful thing, and its something you should never loose sight of.  By making sure you are pleasant to work with, you improve others’ opinion of you.  Although this may seem like an obvious piece of advice, you’d be surprised how often it isn’t followed.

To hear the entire interview with Alan (in which you’ll hear all this, but in his words), head over to Digital Production Buzz and download their podcast.  Alan is the first guest on the July 2nd episode.  All in all, I found the conversation to be enlightening, and the advice given to be valuable.  And I continue to be impressed with DPB, whose podcast I just started listening to last week.

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.

Collecting Feedback to Drive Career Development

As an editor, there’s one interface I know very well – Final Cut Pro.  In fact, I’m in a minority that doesn’t think the next version of the program should have an interface overhaul because I’m so fast and efficient on the interface as it is.  However, I know I need a much more diverse skill set in order to be a serious contender for any post-production job.

I’m trying to collect feedback from as many sources as I can to help drive my professional development.  I’ve identified audio editing as my biggest weakness right now.  To fix that, I’ve lined up Soundtrack Pro to be the next program in Final Cut Studio that I devote significant time to learning.  I’m also taking an editing course next semester that will have me practicing advanced editing techniques, and focusing a great deal on audio editing and multi-cam.  What this means is that I expect to rapidly become more proficient in audio editing, which to me is an absolutely must have.

What I need to know is where else I should be focusing.  So I’m asking LinkedIn connections from production houses and major studios for feedback, and hoping I get some.  I’ll also be leveraging my connections on Twitter to get their feedback.  While I will still maintain responsibility for my professional development, I would be completely stupid not to be sensitive to the needs and trends of the industry as a whole.  Social networking gives me a window into so many places I couldn’t see before, and it is an amazing resource for someone who is trying to become successful.

The Value of LinkedIn in Networking

One of the first things you need to do before setting your career as an editor (or as anything else) in motion is to do lots and lots of research about the industry in general, and the companies you might look at working for in particular.  I, for instance, know a lot about editing, but I don’t really know how other people in the industry see editors.  My work on school and independent projects mean I’m usually more than just an editor.  For example, during Issues production, I served as director on a day the actual director couldn’t come.  I also have served as the webmaster of the show’s site since we launched our first promotional video.  All this means that the cast and crew don’t see me purely as an editor.

So I need to know what other people think about me and my field.  And how other editors view the field.  I’ve been using LinkedIn to find contacts at different companies.  Today, for example, I sent messages to a few NBC employees that I know from the Final Cut Pro Users group we are all a part of.  I asked them what essential qualities for editors at NBC are and what skills they would stress to people entering the field.  If I’m lucky, I’ll hear back from them with some very valuable insights.  I’ll be expanding that strategy in the coming days, starting conversations with contacts at many different companies to gain a better picture of the industry.  It’s an invaluable resource for anyone looking to start out in any field.

I’m sure I’ll post more about LinkedIn in the future as I keep using it.  My account there has been dormant for some time, but I’m investing the time to make it truly active.

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