Well, I guess I’ve gotten vain enough to assume that I might know a thing or two about Avids and editing. So perhaps the world would be a better place if I shared my seemingly limitless knowledge (?). Occasional tips that relate to offline and online editing, Photoshop (my right hand), After Effects (my third hand) and managing media and other files. Throw in the occasional rant to let off some steam and you get the gist . Thanks for reading.

Friday, June 4, 2010


016- Hey, it’s been a while but it's good to be back. In part I was gone because I’ve been busy. Actually, more accurately, I’ve been really busy. But I confess that a small part of me hasn’t been back for other more psychological reasons. You see I’ve received so many positive comments from people who enjoy reading the blogs but aren’t editors I was rather paralyzed as to how to get started. Do I rant about something more general that appeals to a broader group of people? Or do I provide insight about a tip or two relating specifically to the Media Composer and risk alienating a bunch of non-editing (a.k.a human) people right away?

Getting started is truly the hardest part of any exercise – including editing. Everything can seem so daunting. And the more you delay the bigger the mountain to climb. You can be frozen by the fear of choosing the wrong path. So I make it easier on myself right away by pre-determining multiple paths. I write down all the ideas of how to proceed. Today I have chosen to talk about, of all things, “choices” and to share a tip about, of all things, “preferences”. You see? Now I’ve started.

There’s an old editor’s joke that asks “how many editors does it take to change a light bulb?” The answer, “I could change it but you won’t like it”. I guess we all suffer from it - the sureness that they are wrong and that you know better before even trying. Yet when I’m editing, the first cut I do is the one that is closest to the director’s, agency’s, client’s vision of where the story should go. No matter how much I think they are absolutely, 100% dead wrong (and my ego always thinks they are wrong if they don’t agree with me) I go with that path first. This is important for three reasons. (Memorize these and you’re career will go a lot smoother.)

Reason#1: they’re not always wrong. Admit it, it’s true. So many times I’ve finished with their path, look back and slapped my head, “ohhhh, that’s why they did it that way”. But I couldn’t see it until I tried. So do it their way first. Spend the energy. Do it right. Do it well. Get it done. You’ll be glad you did.

Reason#2: If you don’t try it their way and show them that it doesn’t work then they’ll never know whether they would have preferred it your way because they have nothing to compare it to. Trust me when I say they won’t trust you. Show them their way, then show them yours. They’ll always appreciate the effort and the decision for them (and you) is that much clearer.

Reason#3: People like choices. Not too many choices, mind you. But they like to choose from more than one. Bananas, cars, vacation destinations - people want options. Give them more than one choice and they’ll make a decision and feel comforted that they had a part in the process. Give them only one choice and they’ll find faults in the one being shown…forcing you to make changes just ‘because.” Don’t go there. It’s a dark, evil place that breeds bitterness and resentment. When I’m forced to go to the “make changes just because” place I spend my time in the basement thinking about my job while polishing my shotgun. Not good.

So, after I do the “wrong” version I go onto the “right” version, and then others as well. I personally believe I’m paid to explore and so I do…I explore a great deal. Then, when I feel I have done enough I am satisfied that I’ve contributed to the creative process and that I have made my mark and earned my keep.

This is one of the things I like best about the Avid. There is an incredible amount of control over your work environment. From A to Z - the Avid is loaded with choices via preferences. And I like having a lot of preferences to choose from.

People often forget about Site settings. Site settings is the often empty folder than pops up when you choose it from the “Special” pull-down menu in the Media Composer. And it is special. It’s special because a Site setting allows you to mark your favourite preference in such a way that it travels from project to project. In other words, whatever you put in there will be the dominant setting when you create a new project.

This is very helpful because many Avid settings either reset in new projects or simply carry over from the last project you use. For instance "Media creation” preferences often default to whatever Avid thinks is best. But you probably prefer something totally different. Another one is the timeline timecode start in the General preference pane (which for reasons mentioned in another blog I prefer to start as a Drop-frame 09;59;40;00 start point) .

Whatever you like, whichever settings you feel the need to always start up with, just drag your favourite preference from the project window into the Site settings window and voila! – your next new project will have that already in place.

See you next week. I mean it this time.


  1. Good post, thanks. My favorite producer joke goes like this.
    “how many producers does it take to change a light bulb?” The answer, “Does it have to be a light bulb?”.

  2. Oh, so true! There have been several times I've inwardly scoffed or even blurted out "that won't work!" to an editing suggestion only to find myself proven so, so wrong, when. . . tada, it actually worked beautifully when I gave it an honest try.

    Maybe editing for someone else is a legitimate practice for dissolving your ego and achieving enlightenment.