: Kylee Peña's Blog
One of the great things about getting out of the dimly lit edit room (or bay or suite or closet or whatever you use to describe where you spend 85% of your life) and going to places where your peers are gathering is that you -- gasp -- meet your peers! And some of those peers become -- bigger gasp -- FRIENDS!
So allow me to introduce you to a friend
of mine: Joel Yeaton
. I followed Joel on Twitter for a long time and we exchanged baked goods* a few times before meeting at Editfest NY in 2012.
(*Some of us on Twitter Editors occasionally exchange baked goods with one another. It's not as weird as it sounds. I think.)
Joel is attending the Southeast Creative Summit in October, so I figured I would stop telling you why you
should go and let him
tell you why he's
What conferences have you attended in the past?
I hadn't been a part of Twitter for that long before I got connected to #postchat (where I'm more of a lurker than anything else) but @Dr0id mentioned Editfest and on a whim one day I decided to buy a ticket to Editfest NYC 2012.
What have you gotten out of educational classes and workshops that you couldn't get out of online training?
I've gotten so much more out of workshops than I ever have out of online training. Online training is alright and has its place, but it is unfortunate only ever talking about the WHAT or the HOW and never talking about the WHY. Educational classes and workshops like the Southeast Creative Summit are the places you go to learn about the WHY. Also -- and even more importantly -- because of workshops, over the past few years I have gotten connected to a community of editors and post talent who are amazing people doing inspiring work all around the country.
Why did you decide to come to the Southeast Creative Summit?
I decided to come to the Southeast Creative Summit because I had such a great experience with EditFest in 2012, and unfortunately they didn't have another east coast workshop in 2013. But then the Southeast Creative Summit came and filled the gap that I was missing, and I'm so excited for Oct 25th — the 27th to come.
Why do you think it's important to learn in person?
Anyone can learn the WHAT of something, but the WHY of something is the most important and the hardest to learn. When you learn online, you can only learn from one person at a time, but at workshops and conferences like the Southeast Creative Summit, not only are there so many excellent teachers scheduled for workshops during the weekend, you can learn so much from the knowledge base of the other editors that are there learning along side of you. By going to these events, you are increasing your opportunity for connection and collaboration. Chance favors the connected mind!
What do you hope to learn at the Summit?
I currently work for a large PR firm as an editor, but my role is slowly transforming to more of a producer/editor so I'm really excited about all of the production/pre-pro workshops. I have also been playing on some jobs with Mocha and will hopefully get to sit in on one of those workshops as well.
What kind of people would you like to meet at the Summit?
I just want to meet old friends and new. I love meeting people and am very excited to get to be in the same building with the vast talent pool that Walter and crew have assembled. Tweet me if you decide to go! My Twitter handle is @joelyeaton.
What tips do you have for people attending classroom-style workshops?
I don't know if I have any great tips for people that @kyl33t hasn't put in her blog post
, but I would just say be open, be friendly, and just decide to go and see what happens!
I swear I didn't tell him to say any of that stuff. Or link to me. But hey, that's okay with me. Thanks Joel!
Look at that, you already know at least TWO people at the Summit, so you may as well register already
. Use the code trackmatte2013 to get a limited discount - $449 for a ticket.
Alright, I'll admit it. Premiere is pretty decent these days.
I know a lot of people say that. The Internet is filled with love letters to Adobe. I haven't really been among them, well, ever. I've almost always had bad experiences with Premiere, which I've documented a-plenty. Long story short (unless you go back and read my post where I lay it all out), Premiere was unstable as hell for me, Avid wasn't accessible (physically, I could never get in front of one) and being technically proficient in SOMETHING was important to me. So my senior year of college, I learned everything I could about FCP and even got certified by Apple. A card carrying FCPFREAK except not really because the certification logo usage guide was like 18 pages long. I cut on FCP for 3 years professionally and enjoyed using it -- until three months ago, when I came into a new job with Premiere. Creative Cloud actually went live on my first day of work. I used CS6 for a few hours, then CC forever and ever after.
And it's added or eliminated a lot of stuff that used to drive me CRAZY. A lot of people really liked CS6 and I'll agree it was an improvement but MAN, it was like a reanimated corpse in some ways. Nice to edit natively, but OMG WTF at some stuff -- sorry to use so much industry lingo on you.
Obligatory comment about how story is more important than tools. Yes, we know.
So anyway, I know a lot of people are resisting Premiere because they don't like past versions or they don't like the idea of the Creative Cloud or subscription or whatever. Sure, perfectly valid reasons not to use software that don't really concern me. I can't stress enough how much I don't want to argue about the cloud with you. But I thought that since I used to be so firmly in the "omg Premiere sucks so much I can't even look at it" crowd and now I'm not so much, I should spread the word just in case. 'Cause it really does save me a lot of time, I think.
The biggest thing for me that really makes me happy is not needing to transcode. In FCP, I transcoded all the things. I didn't think this would be a big deal to me because I knew FCP's quirks so well that managing media didn't bug me. Well damn ya'll, turns out when you can have a timeline with 6 different kinds of media on it without blinking, that's pretty much okay.
Other stuff that was previously missing or annoying is gone -- and well-covered in actual reviews that aren't just confessionals. Coming straight from using FCP every day (or even Media Composer every night), there's not really much about it that's bothersome when it works as intended. The person to person support seems to be very good. Despite becoming a punching bag for a lot of people, Adobe is pretty flippin' responsive. The help section sucks a lot, but luckily I don't resort to that very much (not because I'm SMRT but because sites like uhm Creative COW do it a lot better anyway.)
The thing is, I still don't really trust Premiere as much as I could. Sometimes weird things will happen and I'm not sure if it's me or the software, or if it really happened. Renders unrender. In or out points go POOF. Disabled clips still act enabled until suddenly they don't. Odd little bugs I can't recreate and make me question my sanity, some of which have been around a long time. Even timecode issues. NBD though right, it's not like timecode is important. At least when FCP tended to flip out, it did it noticeably.
Premiere is keeping up and trying to add new stuff without destroying the delicate little world an editor creates for his or herself, which I respect. But in its constant evolution, I feel like minor oddities that can become show stopping calamities are always a possibility. I never got that from FCP. For all its quirks and dinosaurness, I was always pretty sure that my timecode was accurate or my tested workflow wasn't going to collapse in on itself.
(I'll note that I am using Avid Media Composer for the feature I'm working on because it's awesome for narrative, in my correct opinion.)
I suppose it's sort of a risk and reward situation. FCP was a stable dinosaur, a friendly brontosaurus. But to keep it stable, you stay on older operating systems and older computers, and that's not going to do you any good eventually. Premiere is uhm...the dinosaur that eats Newman. Or whatever. Point is it's pretty awesome and so very fast, but watch out because it does spit toxic black stomach tar sometimes.
Honestly, my main concern with being a Premiere user is: am I inappropriately spoiling myself
? Am I setting myself up for failure by no longer caring about the media the same way as I did before? Or is this what we should all come to expect, that we SHOULD be able to throw random r3ds and loose P2 junk around and let the software deal with it because life is short dammit? I'm nearly made to feel like a cheat for not spending half my life wrangling and managing media...but we have 64 bit phones so why is that my concern?
In summary, I guess I'm saying: Premiere CC is good stuff worth cautiously exploring, so don't reject it because YOU'RE the dinosaur.
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.
It almost snuck by me, but I remembered! Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the premiere of The X-Files. And as a huge fan (I think they used to call us X-Philes) of the show who has recently been working through (almost) every episode from start to finish, I have a couple things to say about this.
This is the first chronological binge viewing I've completed on this show since I originally began watching -- something that happened pretty late in the series. Sometime in 1999, I picked up the show during season 7 and got hooked after the finale. That summer, FX played a couple episodes a night starting from season 1. By fall, I was fully engaged in not only watching the show, but also talking about every aspect of the show on the Internet. With other self-proclaimed "x-philes". Half cringe, half I ain't even mad.
Besides the phenomenal technical achievements of the show which I'm sure are discussed elsewhere on the internet on this happy birthday week, I have two major takeaways as an impressionable teenager, both of which have become a lot clearer upon this recent binge in adulthood, ten years after the show's series finale (sob).
The first thing: characters are everything, and not just the heroes. Yes, Mulder and Scully went through some fantastic character development (which, by the way, is even more impressively subtle when you view episodes back to back to back, there's some amazing mental breakdown slow burn). But how about Cigarette Smoking Man? How many shows give their nameless villain a whole subplot? An entire episode? It's a long journey to the reward, but these small hints build up to a pretty emotionally complex end to the main mytharc, with a lot of engaging and amusing stand-alones along the way. Even characters we saw once or twice -- the psychological mindgames of "Pusher", or the scary as hell hair and nail fetishist in "Irresistible" were way more captivating than a lot of recurring roles on other shows.
Interesting and likable (or at least relatable) characters are a difficult lesson to learn as a filmmaker, and even when X-Files was at its worst, it was still a great teacher.
Two: Dana freakin' Scully. Looking back, she was possibly my biggest role model as a teenager (plus I had a lot of Scully-related forum handles) -- and I wasn't alone. At a Comic-Con, Gillian Anderson said she had dozens and dozens of women tell her that they pursued a career in medicine, science, psychology, law enforcement, or another related field because they had grown up watching Scully kick ass every week. In another interview, I saw a lot of women mentioning their path into filmmaking began with Dana Scully. I'm not sure my hair would even be red without Scully.
Scully is complex character with layers and junk. She's a deeply flawed person without being portrayed as weak-willed. She's physically and mentally tough, but she worries about burdening her partner with her concerns and keeps a lot to herself. Early in the series, the show tried to occasionally show that Scully had a romantic life -- but then somebody realized that the audience didn't care, and it got way better.
It's interesting that the main thing taken away from her after her abduction was her ability to bear children, which made for an interesting dynamic to a character that already overcompensated for her gender as many women are prone to do in a male-oriented field. But she's, at least for 7 seasons, not defined by infertility so much as she is by wanting to find answers, like Mulder. Even when she's the victim, she's not truly helpless (nor is she truly unaffected.) And I think that's kind of rare for women in stories. Plus, infertility is such a trope for female characters anymore, but was anyone addressing such a thing in the early 90s?
I'll admit that Scully in seasons 8 and 9 was kind of crap though. The storyline that had sucked me into the show originally ended up being the weakest link for her character (make babies, protect babies, etc.) But still, we'll always have the ass-kicking Scully in seasons 3 through 5 (including the movie, especially the movie!) And girlfriend could wear them shoulder pads, mhmm.
Also, a majority of X-Files were edited by female editors. I don't really have a further point to make about that, I'm just saying it was a thing I realized upon this binge.
X-Files was awesome. Ya'll should Netflix it if you never watched it before. Great stories, great dialogue, best opening title sequence ever. Yeah, I said it.
Scully: Mulder, it's such a gorgeous day outside. Have you ever entertained the idea of trying to find life on this planet?
Mulder: I've seen the life on this planet Scully, and that is exactly why I am looking elsewhere.
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!)