All posts by Jeff Bartsch

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

How to be a Rockstar Editor: develop split personalities (in the smart way, not the creepy way)

rockstar editor ad

It’s true. Everybody wants a Rockstar.

If you edit video for pay, you may have seen people requesting something like this:

Hey there, Awesome People!! We’re looking for a total Rockstar Editor who will bring your creativity, positive attitude, and willingness to work for substandard rates without complaining!!

For this Totally Awesome job, you must have multiple major network credits in docu-drama series that follow pharmaceutical sales reps in the Yukon who have six fingers on each hand and moonlight as strippers on the weekends!!

Please FedEx 11 letters of recommendation along with your current resume printed on genuine Egyptian parchment paper to me at 12345 City Blvd, Suite 101, Big City, State!! If you do not have the above qualifications, please do not apply or leave Non-Awesome comments here!! Team players only!!!

Ok, so I’m kidding.

Just barely.

If you see requests like that, they are likely jobs that you want to avoid like the Egyptian Plague. (See previous post “This little known video editing secret can keep you from going NUTS.”)

Truth is… producers, directors, or clients who pay money for video editing talent usually do want Rockstar talent, whether they use that word or not.

They want to know that they’re getting someone who can deliver the right stuff in the right timeframe, preferably making the process as painless and/or Awesome!! as possible.

So how do we pull that off? How do we editors develop a reputation for being Rockstars… in the genuine “I would work with this guy/gal any day of the week!” way?

Here’s just one of the many ways to make that happen: Continue reading How to be a Rockstar Editor: develop split personalities (in the smart way, not the creepy way)

This little known video editing secret can keep you from going NUTS

polar bear double facepalm

Do you edit video and value your mental sanity?

Good, me too.

Check this out, because this is important.

Here at The Power Edit, we’re all about the parts of editing that go beyond the button pushing and all the software and techie stuff.

Everyone else talks about that, and that’s fine.

But here’s what so few people actually talk about:

The creative and mental side of editing, and how to tell great stories in a truly powerful way – in a way that’s relatable to the 99.8% of the world who don’t cut $300M studio blockbusters.

So along the mental side of things, here’s a not so well known fact:

Whether you edit for pay or for free, your mental well being as an editor is hugely affected not only by the gigs you take… but even more so by the gigs you DON’T take.

Like this one.

gypsy wedding pic

After a hugely appreciated month off editing, with my wife and I getting used to life with our newborn son, I started a new gig this week.

I’ll talk more about it some other time, but for now, I’m just cringing in horror at this picture that’s sitting atop a stack of boxes directly outside my edit bay. Continue reading This little known video editing secret can keep you from going NUTS