The Ferrari and The Lie: You Can’t Teach Editing

There’s an idea that’s been floating around the editing world for a long, long time. It’s usually dropped on younger editors who are just starting out, or other storytellers who want to move forward creatively and just kind of feel stuck.

It usually goes something like this:  “You can’t teach editing. Creative editing can’t be taught. You’ve either got it or you don’t.”

If you’ve ever had to hear that, I’m sorry.  And I’m here to tell you that it’s a lie.

Just. Plain. Wrong.

Here’s why.

Crazy music energy, and crazy smooth picture edits

Today, we have not one but TWO Pro Tip How-To videos from Story Greenlight. I dare you to watch them and not have your edit skills jump up multiple notches.

First: Cutting picture to the beat of your music is a powerful way to raise the energy in your edit. Here’s how to avoid the #1 trap that people often fall into without knowing it, plus an easy way to make your cuts even more powerful than you might have expected.

Second: For all those times when you’re scratching your head for why certain shots just don’t work well together when others do – 9 out of 10 times, this video will give you the reason why. This idea literally changed my editing life, and I hope it’s as much of a game-changer for you as it has been for me.

If videos like these are helpful for you, or you’d like to see more of them, hit the subscribe button over on YouTube.

You can jump straight to the Story Greenlight channel by clicking here.

Is your video Shakespeare or Shopping List?

The tricky thing about assumptions is that we usually don’t know we have them. I was multiple years into my career editing TV in Hollywood before I realized that I was stuck in a mindset that was hindering my ability to understand clients.

I eventually figured out that this assumption I was holding is just one side of an entire spectrum of thought.

Check out the video below, and I’d be curious to know where you stand for yourself.

What assumptions have you realized you’ve been holding without knowing it?

Modern Kuleshov with a side of Trump

New video. If you’re here at The Power Edit, I probably don’t have to sell you on the importance of the editing process when it comes to putting your stories out into the world.

But it always helps to get a little Film School 101 reminder now and again… especially if it’s got a modern twist to it.

Hopefully it reminds you of the possibilities.

Check out the video from Story Greenlight:

Why care about video editing? | Modern Kuleshov with a side of Trump.

Time to launch

Got a cool video for you. It’s been quite the process  getting to the point where it even exists and is ready for your enjoyment.

It’s like the editor who builds a first assembly. Then come the revisions. Things that work, things that don’t work, things that make you wonder what ever possessed you to think this project had a prayer of being a good idea in the first place.

Crap.

As it turns out, life is like that too.

Almost 10 years before I sat down to write the words you’re reading, I came up with an idea to help people in their journey to become powerful storytellers through editing.

I started an online business called Editmentor, and the idea was to sell packages of unedited film and video footage as learning tools for people who were learning how to edit. The idea sounded good in theory, but I sucked at turning it into reality.

Since then, fellow Angeleno Misha Tenenbaum started up Editstock.com with the same idea but with FAR better execution than I ever did.

He’s killing it with Editstock, and if you’re looking to expand your creative editing chops with great practice footage and insightful feedback, you should check out what he and his team are doing over there.

Meanwhile, I started The Power Edit with the same desire to help young and growth-minded video and TV editors to grow in their craft. Instead of offering footage, I wanted to offer teaching.

And that’s what I did. Eventually I wrote enough blog posts and emails that they turned into an honest-to-goodness book called Edit Better: Hollywood-Tested Strategies for Powerful Video Editing.

I recruited and oversaw multiple rounds of The Power Edit Academy, a high-level small-group coaching experience.

The Power Edit has expanded to subscribers and readers in well over 40 countries across 6 continents.

And then I lost my way. Continue reading Time to launch

The weirdness of getting what you want

Ever gotten exactly what you wanted and realized it was way different than what you thought it would be? That happened to me recently, and it just might help you in your creative journey.

In 2008, I read a book that stretched my brain, turned it inside out, and smacked it up against the wall. The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss described a life where you, the reader, could set up an online business that operated automatically on your behalf, printing money 24/7. This would allow you to do things like randomly move to Tokyo for 6 months to learn Japanese, then pop back to the US for a few weeks to say “konnichiwa” to your now-jealous friends and family, then throw a dart at the map, prompting you to move to Buenos Aires because you think it might be cool to learn the tango.

Ever since then, I’ve been building online business in one form or another. The idea has always been to use the things I’m really good at to provide huge value to people who in turn give my company money. This then bankrolls my life instead of being boxed into the one main income source that virtually everyone relies on: exchanging hours for dollars via paychecks.

The desired result of all this?

Freedooooooooom!!

Freedom. The freedom to spend my time the way I choose, instead of being beholden to bosses who expect me to show up for a 10+-hour shift, expertly crafting their material and getting paid only once.

Well, I recently made it to “freedom”.

But I didn’t get there the way I expected, and being “free” definitely did not feel the way I expected. Continue reading The weirdness of getting what you want

Four story lessons from Chewbacca Mask Lady

Happy chewbacca ad

“I’M SUCH A HAPPY CHEWBACCA!!!” she shouts into her cell phone camera, streaming live to Facebook.

“THIS IS WORTH. EVERY. PENNY!!!” she yells, gasping for air between spasms of laughter.

If you haven’t seen it yet, watch the video of Texas housewife Candace Payne demonstrating her favorite birthday present to herself EVER.

You WILL laugh. It’s physically impossible not to.

This video smashed Facebook video records, racking up over 50 million views in the first 24 hours it was up.

Crazy.

As of this writing, online stores selling Chewbacca masks are now sold out. Everywhere.

Period.

And Candace Payne from Texas has appeared on Good Morning America and become a viral video star.

If you look at Candace’s Facebook profile, you’ll see she studied Musical Theater, so it makes sense that she does have an easy on-camera presence. Having said that, I doubt she sat down and plotted out the communication strategy behind her video while shooting it.

Heck no. She just grabbed a Chewbacca mask and hit record.

Here are four lessons we storytellers and creative types can learn from Chewbacca Mask Lady.

 

1. Context is CRITICAL.

On seeing the video was four minutes long, my first response was, “I don’t wanna spend four minutes watching this.” Then I started watching, and it sucked me in. It became clear that it needs all four minutes. Here’s why… Continue reading Four story lessons from Chewbacca Mask Lady

Bruce Lee, editing theorist?

Bruce Lee Editing Theorist

 

Bruce Lee achieved astounding things in the martial arts world. Not surprisingly, anyone who achieves uncommon levels of mastery tends to have things to say about it.

Here’s one of Lee’s quotes:

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

You might be surprised by what those words could mean for you and your creative editing.

I first discovered that quote during my years editing Countdown to UFC – the Countdown show is an hour-long documentary/promo hybrid that serves as the UFC’s primary marketing tool for its monthly tentpole pay per view events.

The whole point of the show is to say “Here are the fighters on the upcoming fight card, here’s why you should care about them, now pull out your wallet and buy the pay per view show to watch them fight.”

The show is formulaic in structure, and so are most of the stories themselves.

If you look up my credits on IMDB, you’ll see I cut over 62 episodes… of Dudes Hitting Dudes. Occasionally towards the end there were some Chicks Hitting Chicks too, but they were rare.

The question became, “How do you make Dudes Hitting Dudes interesting… YET AGAIN?” Continue reading Bruce Lee, editing theorist?

Four critical steps to booking your dream editing gigs

 

Jeff Bartsch dream gig

Come, editors young and old. Let’s throw up our hands at the sky and yell:

“How the heck do I get editing work that I really want?!”

“How do I find those magical jobs that pay what I want to earn?!”

Or even more elusive, the quiet question: “All my life I’ve wanted to cut [insert dream gig here]. Is it even possible to get there?”

Members of online editing communities constantly ask the questions –

“Gosh, things have been really slow. Is it just me?”

“I’m tired of the freelance grind, constantly hustling for the next gig.”

Younger members of the group ask, “Why can’t I seem to get a break?”…while others, even established veterans, quietly give up.

Just recently, a member of the Power Edit community emailed me that he’s leaving editing – it’s taking too long to get established, and he has a wife and a baby to support.

I get that. I have both of those myself.

All those questions could be answered happily if the person asking them had a steady stream of editing work, whatever form that takes for you.

So how DO you book your dream gigs as an editor?

There are four major factors that all have to line up.

Spoiler alert, here they are:

1.You need the right skills.
2. You need the right opportunities.
3. You need the right connections.
4. You need to be the right person.

 

On the face of things, the list isn’t all that sexy.

But the result of putting all those ideas into play most definitely is.

Let’s discuss critical element #1 to booking your dream editing gigs:

 

dream gig skills

YOU NEED THE RIGHT SKILLS.

To book the work you want to book, you have to know what your employers, collaborators, or clients expect of you.

Do they expect you to grab videos off their son’s iPhone, download videos of his most amazing high school sports moments from YouTube, and put it together into a killer demo reel for any collegiate sport scouts who ask for it?

Ya better know how to do all that, both the techie stuff AND knowing what sport scouts want to see.

Do they expect you to oversee a multiple-camera-to-digital-cinema-package workflow with monstrous file sizes, 19 codecs, 36 LUTs, and 7-channel sound mix? Continue reading Four critical steps to booking your dream editing gigs

Four groovy ways to Uptown Funkify your editing

Uptown FunkinessWhat can a music video with over a BILLION views teach us about video editing?

Plenty.

As of this writing, the music video for “Uptown Funk” (Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars) is the 7th most watched video on Youtube of all time.

The song spent 14 consecutive weeks at #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

In January 2015, “Uptown Funk” streamed a record 2.34 million times in a single week in the UK.

Back across the pond, it set a new record for the highest number of streams in one week in the US – 4.8 million of them.

In a week.

If you haven’t both heard the song and seen the video, stop whatever you’re doing and watch it here, right now.

If it’s been a while since you’ve seen it, watch it again.

You know you want to.

Now that the song’s hook has firmly embedded itself in your brain, here are some thoughts on the video’s editorial style that you can apply to your own editing.

Wanna watch the video again?

Yes, you should do that. I’ll wait here.

And we’re back.

Before we get into it, avoid the trap of thinking “this stuff only applies to music videos,” because these ideas have direct application to everything from the driest, most clinical corporate video to the most lavishly budgeted, self-loving-auteur-driven feature film.

Check it out:

 

1. PRACTICE FUNCTIONAL VS. BEAT-DRIVEN CUT POINTS

FUNCTIONAL: The video’s cutting leans heavily on the classic functional music vid style – snappy yet invisible cuts that are driven by the actions within the shots themselves. Continue reading Four groovy ways to Uptown Funkify your editing

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