: Kylee Peña's Blog
: video production conference
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
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.
A big dilemma when deciding to throw your hard earned money at someone in exchange for knowledge: am I ready for this? Will I get enough out of it to justify the cost? Will I get eaten alive? I'm scared. Hold me. I don't want anything to do with any of it. Go away.
Or something like that. It's a realistic dilemma to have. As a video editor or motion graphics artist, you wouldn't go to an advanced PHP conference or Accountantpalooza (if there is such a thing…and if there isn't, there should be.) And you wouldn't pay to attend a weekend of advanced level hands-on video production classes if you've never touched a camera before.
But chances are if you've made it this far and you read industry blogs like this one, you're exactly the kind of person that would benefit from attending video production or post-production workshops. Whether you're still in college, never went to college, you're in your first video gig, or searching for that first job, you'll get something out of a week or weekend of video production classes.
Most conferences are built with a wide demographic in mind -- which makes sense, because everyone is so different in our industry. So don't fret that you'll be the dumb kid in the back of the room if you feel a little green. Even if a few concepts do go over your head, at least you'll know what you're interested in researching further. And being surrounded by a bunch of your peers, you'll probably discover that you're less inexperienced than you thought. There's no need to feel intimidated, especially in a learning environment.
The Southeast Creative Summit
is coming up on October 25-27 in Atlanta and it'll be a great conference for the less experienced. The focus is less on specific tools, and more on what to do with the tools. Learn more about the art and craft and apply that to all the technical junk you have yet to learn. The student rate
will remain in effect until classes begin. Which is awesome. If you aren't getting free and cheap stuff as a student, you're doin' it wrong.
I was going to write a post called "Am I TOO experienced for educational workshops?" But duh, no, you aren't. There's always something new to learn about or get better at, and as soon as you start thinking you're too knowledgeable to possibly learn anything else, you should probably retire or move onto a new career. Maybe something in event planning, adding "--palooza" to words.
Duh, we all know it's important to stay up to date on the changing technologies in the video production and post-production industries. So we read and tweet and practice and put time aside for educational workshops (like the upcoming Southeast Creative Summit
) because we're smart and forward-thinking.
But have you thought about the benefit of networking
at an educational conference? Sure, you're there to learn from presenters -- but if you attend conferences passively, you're missing out on a lot.
1. Introduce yourself to the person next to you.
Yeah, that old trick about talking to strangers. You're going to be sitting around people you've probably never met. Sit down a few minutes early and strike up a conversation. Maybe you'll find common ground and trade cards or Twitter handles. Maybe they'll be a nutso weirdo (which also has its benefits.) Either way, you might learn something. Don't dismiss anyone as irrelevant. They could have information you didn't know you needed.
2. Tweet with the conference hashtag.
If your conference and workshops is happening in the 21st century, someone has assigned a hashtag to it. And if they haven't, attendees have come up with one organically. Monitor the hashtag for activities, and share some thoughts and helpful tidbits. It helps keep you engaged, but it also connects you directly with the most savvy among the group. You never know who you'll meet with a hashtag -- I met one of my favorite Englishmen that way and we've been friends ever since.
Bonus tip: if you bring business cards, put your Twitter handle on it.
3. If you do follow the event on Twitter, make your avatar actually LOOK like you.
If you're an egg or a baby or a cat, you aren't recognizable. Upload a clear picture of yourself that actually looks like you, so people will know they've found the right person if they want to talk in the real world.
4. Actually go to the social mixers.
You've been sitting in cold classrooms all day. You've taken more notes than you have since high school. Curling up in your hotel room with some room service sounds really good. Socializing with strangers in the hotel bar sounds really not good. Take a hot shower and go to the social event! Some of the best places to talk to like-minded video professionals is over a quiet drink or coffee. At the first conference I ever attended, I stayed in my room during the social mixer and watched baseball. I'm not gonna lie, it was awesome and I remember it fondly. But if I had gone and met these people -- people I interact with all the time now -- I would have known them that much longer.
5. And don't think you have to just talk about the industry.
Finding other things in common with people in your field makes for great conversation too! Talk about pets, kids, rocketry, whatever. You don't have to argue about FCPX or the Cloud when you're at a video production conference. You can be a normal human being and talk about the weather, if that's what floats your boat.
6. Talk to the presenters too!
Don't be afraid to approach presenters after their workshop, in the hall, or at social events. If you get the sense they're busy or trying to get somewhere, don't get in a huff if they scurry by. But don't let the fact their name is on the room intimidate you from saying hello. Probably 99% of all the people I've ever met in the video production industry have been friendly and willing to talk as long as they had the time. There's no reason to NOT say hi to someone whose work you admire enough to sit through a 90 minute session.
7. Look friendly.
If you lay in the hall in the fetal position listening to your iPod between sessions, ain't nobody gonna talk to you. Look normal, smell good, try not to scowl so much.
8. Bring a charger for your phone.
A lot of networking involves social media or at least exchanging numbers to meet up. A lot of workshops involve using your phone or tablet to take notes or monitor social feeds. If your phone stops working, you miss out. Make sure your battery isn't going to die by lunchtime.
9. Listen and help people.
Ultimately, one of the most rewarding parts of networking is helping someone else fulfill a need they have. It could be just being a connection in the industry, actual paid work, or maybe it's actual technical and creative help as a peer. Ask a lot of questions about other people, and listen to what they have to say. You could find a lot of value in understanding their world, and you might be able to help each other out.
10. Follow up.
After you're home with some new followers online or some new business cards on your table, actually follow up with the people you met and try to make a permanent connection of sorts. There's no point in meeting someone if you're just going to toss their card aside and forget all about it. Don't leave networking to chance and wait for them to call YOU.
Workshops are all about your continued education as a video production professional, but don't forget the most important aspect of the industry: knowing the right people. Who are the right people? Maybe the dude sitting next to you! Find out.
(And where better to try your hand at professional networking than the Southeast Creative Summit
, where I'll be speaking about social media, online reputation management, and generally not being a d@&k online! And YES, you CAN save $100 on registration for now with my code trackmatte2013, thanks for asking!)
Let’s say you work for a company, but you want to go to the Southeast Creative Summit
. What do you do? Pitch it to your boss, of course. Don’t like asking your overlords for things? I’ve made it easy for you here with a letter you can copy and paste into an email! Whoa, I did your job for you? Yep! Just copy, paste, adjust as you like, and send it off into the ether.
You’re a valuable employee, right? You want to keep adding value to the company? And the company wants to keep you around too. Having your organization send you to continuing education events each year is a great way to maintain mutual respect. Plus, the worst they could say is “uh, no” I guess! Doesn’t hurt to try.
I heard about a video production conference in Atlanta this October called the Southeast Creative Summit (www.southeastcreativesummit.com
) and I think it'd be a great idea for me to go. There aren't many educational video production conferences like this, and I haven't found one as affordable or diverse.
It's a three day conference over a weekend (October 25-27), so I won’t miss much work. They're offering a lot of workshops
I haven't seen before, like aerial cinematography and producing. The things I learn could easily change the way we approach our project work here.
The workshops are being taught by people who are primarily working professionals
in our field. A few of them have won Oscars or Emmys too, so I'd be learning from some of the best in the field. Everything in our industry is constantly changing, and I think conferences like this where I can learn from my peers are our best bet for staying ahead of the competition.
Atlanta is an easy city to travel to -- the airport services tons of airlines, and the conference hotel is offering a really good discount rate at the moment. I also found a coupon code (trackmatte2013) to get $100 off registration for the Summit, so it'll only cost $495 if I register before September 25th
Maybe we could talk about this more and see if this fits into our budget? Thanks!
(Maybe not so much with the hugs and kisses at the end. But come on, give it a shot!)
Self-promotion ahead! Which is funny, because it's self-promotion about self-promoting.
Maybe you've seen some posts about the Southeast Creative Summit. Maybe not. I'll explain anyway. The Southeast Creative Summit
is happening October 25-27 in Atlanta. It's three days of workshops taught by working professionals in the video production industry -- sound design, color grading, motion graphics, editing, producing, business practices, and other stuff.
Hey guess what? I'm presenting one of these sessions! I'll be discussing social media in the video production industry -- how you should be using it and why you should bother. A lot of people (including ME) have gotten amazing opportunities and met awesome industry peers by putting some time and effort into an online presence.
We're all constantly looking for ways to set ourselves apart from the crowd in the video production industry -- newbies are trying to prove themselves and vets are just trying to stave off the young folk. I'll tell you about all the ways you should be shamelessly promoting yourself as a video production professional.
So you know, at the very least why not some tweeting and blogging? It's not nearly as time consuming or difficult as it may seem to set up and maintain. It's good for your continued education, and it shows off your glowing personality. If you have one. Disclaimer: this workshop will not give you a personality.
I'll also be straight with you: I've presented about marketing yourself to a number of video production groups, but this is my first actual video production conference. It's going to be very fun and entertaining (and duh, informative). But if you could go ahead and register now
and come to one of my sessions, it would be great for my self-esteem. Thanks in advance! I'll help you out: $100 off registration
through September 25th with code trackmatte2013.
For real, if you're within a day's drive of Atlanta, this should be on your radar. It should be anyway, but ESPECIALLY if you live anywhere nearby. There aren't loads of opportunities outside of NAB to get continued education in video production and hang out with your peers, and there's certainly not much else going on in the southeast. COME ON.