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Assistant Video Editing

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I am back in the post production world of Assistant Editing at JOHLT Productions, a company formally known as Edelman Productions. After a half decade of working in TV advertising sales I realized my true passion was to spend the rest of my life working in the production side of the house. So, I decided to go back to what I was doing before trying to become either a freelance or full time video editor. This was something I felt I could do for a very long time and not have any regret I was in it.

On the advertising sales part of my life there was more money to be made but the turn and burn of chasing after the next greatest sale had it’s great moments when deals closed but it also had it’s worst moments when they did not. There were so many times, when my job or reputation was on the line within the company based off weather a client agreed with my proposal and it was not within my control no matter how hard I worked. Rather it was how good you could sweet talk the client into believing your story. If they believed it that would bring upon more questions and interest in winning them over. Now that I am back after being gone for 7 years from post production, I can see there have been some changes.


One of the changes I have encountered when I left Edelman Productions in January 2005 is the field footage. Digi-Beta Tapes was the last medium I was getting after a shoot was complete. When I first visited the JOHLT office, I hardly seen the amount of tapes I would see when I last worked at Edelman. Tapes are the thing of the past and flash cards, external hard drives were now what is used to record the field footage. I knew before I left the production field in 2005, this would be the future.

What I was wrong about this change was the amount of time it would take to digitize the field footage to file formats that would work with the Avid editing software. This is the job of the Assistant Video Editor to make sure all the footage that comes from the field is converted to the proper file formats so the Offline Video Editor can work with the footage without having to wait hours long for the footage to be converted properly and the technical settings were set in order to prevent errors down the road. The days worth of tapeless field footage took 8 hours of transferring files and converting them to the correct formats.

Media Management will always be a need for production companies which has also been something of the past. Field footage can easily be lost if it is not managed correctly. In post production, there are good editors who can create stories but there are even better ones who can manage media. Not all editors can achieve this, especially; if they are a freelance editor because they are not immersed daily in the management of media.

The responsibility falls in the hands of the Assistant Editor to manage the media so that everyone knows how to get to the proper media files and to prevent the loss of the raw footage. This can easily happen if an editor or assistant editor carelessly stores the media files anywhere without knowing which drive it is on.

During my Edelman days, we would store all the field footage tapes in a library where it was properly labeled and placed on a shelf that was organized similar to any library. Now that the tape library is gone, I see lots more external drives that can hold 1 terabyte of storage space that are properly labeled with a post it sticker. We will use two different external drives for a show. One will be the field drive which is the drive we use to store our original raw footage transferred from the flash cards. The other external drive we will also use is the conversion drive that we use to store the raw footage files to converted files that work with Avid Media Composer, editing software program.

A position that is also done a little differently are the Loggers, we used to have at Edelman Productions. When I first started, I was hired as a Logger which would log the VHS copies of the field footage. We would take a scene that was shot and title the scene with the recorded timecode into another Avid Media Composer part that could record the logs of each scene for the editors to know and find footage. Now, the Assistant Editor does this work but with less detail and less rewinding and forwarding of VHS tapes. Instead, we will quickly go through the converted files and label it with general titles. The labeling helps create metadata within Avid Media Composer to help the Offline Editors do keyword searches to find algorithm matches of clips that it can suggest for the editor.

Some of the Assistant Editors who I worked with at Edelman Productions are now full time Video Editors at JOHLT Productions. I am really glad to see they have moved up and I get to work with them. They are a good support to helping me one day become a Video Editor myself. One thing I have learned and I will always take with me where ever I go is to never burn bridges and to pick my battles wisely. The production world is very limited up here in Northern California, where your reputation follows with the small number of people who work within the industry. The opportunity for your colleagues can lead them to paths that will later help you in your career path within this Northern Bay Area niche industry.




Posted by: ben nam on Dec 3, 2012 at 2:20:41 pm
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