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Practical Checklist for Video Production Conferences

You've booked your conference (perhaps the Southeast Creative Summit), been practicing your handshake, and read How to Win Friends and Influence People - twice. The eve of your classes is upon you. You're ready to learn all the things and network your face off.

Congratulations, you've prepared yourself well. But have you prepared yourself for yourself? You can't learn if you aren't comfortable, and you won't want to be social if you're grumpy. Don't forget to check your own checklist for creature comforts.

1. Plan workshops ahead of time. Print out the schedule grid (because you can't rely on smartphone data service in cavernous conference centers) and circle the sessions you are most interested in attending. Prioritize them. If one is too full or not what you wanted, you already have your second or third choice in hand without thinking.

2. Bring a sweater or something. Hotels and conference centers are notoriously frigid.

3. Have a snack stash. The nearest food available might be expensive or icky or have a long line. You might get caught up talking to a colleague or presenter instead of eating lunch. Now it's afternoon and you're hungry. Protein bars, fruit, and water are good to have on hand just in case you need a blood sugar boost. At larger conferences, water is a particularly hot commodity, so bringing a refillable bottle is even better.

4. Pack your chargers -- phone and/or laptop. But especially phone chargers. Because you're going to want to do a lot of social media sharing (right?) and you don't want a dead battery before you can add your new BFF on Twitter.

5. Don't forget the little things: business cards if you're into that, chapstick, contact solution, hand sanitizer, medication, gum, whatever. Throw it all in a backpack and you'll be prepared so you won't have to skip a session to go to your room or a store. Don't pack your life, but think more than 20 seconds about stuff you probably want to have with you.

I made a new friend at a conference once by being prepared. He tweeted with the conference hashtag, asking if anyone had any aspirin. I tweeted back that I did. Now we're married. Just kidding, I think he still follows me though.

6. Paper and pens are often much better than trying to bring a computer and type notes. Either way, good to have a backup plan for taking notes if technology forsakes you. (Bonus note: unless the workshop is built for following along, don't try to follow along with software demonstrations. You'll get lost and distracted.)

7. Don't bring things that are annoying. Loud things to eat, stuff that smells weird (food or perfume), junk that takes up a lot of space. Be courteous, it's not like you're going to the rainforest.


Make a list and assure you haven't forgotten any minor essentials that will help enhance your conference experience. If you're attending the Southeast Creative Summit this weekend, come tell me what I forgot to put on this list. And if you aren't already registered, you still can! Discounted full passes are available (with code creativecow2013), or you can attend just one day.


Posted by: Kylee Peña on Oct 23, 2013 at 12:58:18 pm video production conference, southeast creative summit

Five Video Editing Tips – from Writers

I like writing. I always have, and I've always been okay at it. It makes a lot of sense to me when editors also write -- blogs, scripts, whatever -- because the tasks are so similar. It mostly comes down to constructing a story of some kind, and the same pitfalls seem to apply more and more as I keep editing and writing stuff.

Since I'm sufficientish (or maybe proficientish? I don't know words) at writing and I want to be AWESOME, I did the obvious and looked up advice from famous authors so I could copy off...er...attempt to emulate their success in small ways. I got hooked into a bunch of articles by awesome writers talking about being awesome a couple months ago. Since then, I've been noticing more parallels between good editing and good writing. Story stuff is story stuff, but it's been interesting to apply tips meant for writers to editing video -- unscripted or narrative, or whatever you might be cutting.


Don't go into great detail describing places or things. - Elmore Leonard

In unscripted stuff particularly, I've seen a tendency for editors to use a whole bunch of b-roll at the beginning to describe a place. It's kind of like the editorial equivalent of four pages of describing the weather and town instead of actually getting to the story. It's so much better when a place or thing is built through a character experiencing it.

Every sentence must do one of two things - reveal character or advance the action. - Kurt Vonnegut

If a cut isn't revealing character or advancing the action, then why is it there? This has been especially interesting to me while cutting narrative. I'm not just assembling a scene. I'm editing a script, after the fact.

Your story will always be stronger if you just show the physical actions and details of your characters and allow your reader to do the thinking and knowing. - Chuck Palahniuk

Palahniuk goes on to talk about the differences between two kinds of passages. In one, the main character is described as anxious about missing a bus. In the other, the circumstances of the main character's anxiety are laid out. You're in her head and getting a sequence of events that leads you to feel anxious FOR her, but the text itself doesn't say "X was anxious."

In editing, I've seen something like this: you're following a protagonist who is about to embark on a scary adventure after a restless night. In one version, you dip to black, put up a descriptive title slide, then move onto the action of the next day. In another version, you find key bits in the b-roll (maybe even in different parts of the day or from another day) that build the anxiety of the night leading into the action of the day. Easier said than done -- you often don't have the b-roll -- but some creativity and intent is sometimes all it takes to help suck the audience in a little bit more.

Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted. - Kurt Vonnegut

In the subjective world of writing and editing, it's hard to please everyone. And that's not what this is about. Tell the best story you possibly can with what's been provided to you. Don't be lazy, don't cut narrative corners, and don't assume your audience are imbeciles (unless that's your target, I guess.) If someone feels their time was wasted by watching your story, that's their problem. 

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. - Elmore Leonard

If it looks like editing, edit it differently. This is the one I've had on my mind the most over the last couple of months. Sometimes I come into contact with sequences cut by people I don't know and have the opportunity to examine them closely. So often I'll find that a good opportunity for an invisible edit is squandered by a flash to white or unnecessary speed ramp. Style over content.

The footage is good. The right music change, natural sound, and arrangement of cuts would be sufficient to end a thought (or paragraph) and go to the next one. This bit is more than just an inability to transition: cuts that are too clever or on the nose or perfectly to music, unintentional jump cuts, star wipes (eh) -- any kind of edit that reminds a person that editing has happened. 

 
I suppose it's extremely obvious to compare writing and editing since it's all storytelling, and often as an editor you actually ARE rewriting a thing someone said. Plus, how many times have you been searching for editing jobs online and found a bajillion copy editor gigs instead? Story is story and editing is editing, but some timeless wisdom has served me well in the edit suite lately.


Posted by: Kylee Peña on Oct 13, 2013 at 7:46:55 pm video editing, writing



Focusing on post-production, from editing and motion graphics to personal experiences and the psychology of being an editor.


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