Saturday, May 24, 2008

10 Commandments, Lies and Video Tapes

I love me some lists... so here's a few I picked up while reading:



1. Thou shalt not screw up thy client's job.

2. Thou shalt not record in LP mode, lest ye receiveth thy glitch.

3. Thou shalt not mix tape brands, nor shalt thou allowest them to intermingle freely, lest ye recieveth thy glitch.

4. Honor thy Alimighty Vectorscope and thy Almighty Waveform Monitor, for in Darkness and in Light art thou guided by them.

5. Thou shalt not covet thy scene transition for the sake of vanity, but shalt thou cut with reason and purpose, and only then, keeping thy transitions modest.

6. Thou shalt have thy proper subject on screen at the proper time, thy speaker when he speaketh, thy reactor when he reacteth, thy glance and then thy object.

7. Thou shalt not cross axis.

8. Cast down thy recording tabs and breaketh them, and if thy tabs slideth, and not breaketh, then shalt thee slidith thy tabs into the "save" position, so that thine precious video might then be saved from eternal loss.

9. Loggeth thee thy master tapes, and with marked labels shalt thee cover them, for their nakedness is sinful.

10 Thou shalt not linger too long in black, lest thy viewer kick his TV set reproachfully, thinking it hath conked out again.


With additions from

Thou shalt at least attempt some type of written script or paper edit to at the very least give the editor some starting point, albeit however small, or futile said script shall be.

Thou shalt give the editor some time to work on the edit on his or her own without the interruption of director, producer, writer, client, cinematographer, videographer, executive producer or production assistant.

Thou shalt not ask the editor to review every single cut or parameter change the second after said change is executed thereby giving the editor a bit more time to get the particular thing done.

Thou shalt not give an editor a DVD as a master source reel and expect it to function properly in an offline to online environment without the dubbing to a master tape reel with timecode and/or expect the quality of compressed DVD mpeg material to be the same quality as HD video or 35mm transfered film.

Thou shalt give the editor some time to make a change and review said change before making comment out loud that a glaring, unintentional error needs to be fixed or changed.

Thou shalt keep partying to a minimum in edit suite when edit job is on a tight deadline, least you expect editor to get interrupted or distracted and not be able to finish on time.ÂÂ


Half truths and whole lies from

10. It’s just a preview glitch…
9. It’s out of the safe area, you’ll never see that on the air…
8. It won’t really look like that…
7. I’ll fill out the paperwork tomorrow…
6. Why no, I don’t mind working on Saturday…
5. Oh, don’t go by THAT monitor…
4. It works better as a cut…
3. That glitch is on the source tape…
2. I’ll have all your changes done by the end of the day…
1. No, I agree. It’s much better that way.


10. It’s pretty simple. It should only take an hour…
9. Budget? Don’t worry about it…
8. Feel free to be creative with this…
7. I only need a couple dubs…
6. The network will love it. They won’t make any changes…
5. I’m positive we’ve got that shot on another tape…
4. I’ve never had this problem anywhere else I have edited…
3. Could I see it just one more time?
2. I thought you’d be able to just paint it out…
1. How hard could it be?

(when they pick up the second half of a session)
10. It’ll only take about an hour to render…
9. I’ve pre-built all of the chyron…
8. It should only go a couple of more hours…
7. I’ll be at home. Call me if you have any questions…
6. The producer has been really organized so far…
5. All of the decks are working perfectly…
4. The list has been working great…
3. I’ve had no problems with this Avid…
2. Don’t worry, the credit roll is short…
1. I’ve already done the hardest parts…

5. Kick me off if you need the station.
4. You don't have to log everything.
3. We'll finish early today.
2. I organized the files really well already.
1. An hour of footage a day, tops.


1. “I’ll be home soon.”


Things to be made into posters when I get my own swanky edit suite ;]

Monday, May 19, 2008

Producer / Editor / Debt-Collector

Still reading through the earlier posts of Shane Ross' blog and came across this post with brilliantly useful [well...] comments:

Lesson 1 from comment by Christian Glawe

Working as an assistant editor at a large facility - a dub order comes in for a bunch of 1" broadcast dubs of a group of commercials we did for an Ad Agency.

Ad Agency had only paid about half their production bill with us (and other half was about 90 days), but was ordering more broadcast dubs.

My boss, owner of the company (lets call him "Jim"), grabs the dub order off the fax machine, grabs me, and says "c'mon... I'm gonna show you how to make dubs".

So "Jim" has me rout the master through the switcher in Edit 1, and **black out the top half of the commercial**.

Jim says, "They paid half their bill... they get half their spot"

And then the kicker....

"Really, though... they should thank me... I left them the half with the phone number on it..."

Bill was paid the next day.


Lesson 2 from comment by Scott Simmons

Years ago a fellow freelancer had been trying repeatedly to get paid for a job. Many calls to the producer gave him only the run-around. Knowing the producer had a great big facility he either had money or was in real debt. So my friend went to the facility with a big bag of unshelled peanuts in hand.

He calmly asked for the producer. When they inquired what he was there for my friend produced the now 120+ days invoice and stated that he wanted to be paid for the work he had done. The secretary buzzed someone on the phone then stated the producer wasn't in and could he come back or, preferably, call later. My friend stated "nope, he would wait."

He then sat down in the reception area and began to shell and eat peanuts and throw the discarded shells onto the floor. After a few minutes the secretary asked what he was doing and he casually explained that he had worked hard to complete the job that he hadn't been paid for, took time calling and waiting patiently for payment that never came and was now there for his payment as well as enjoying some peanuts. He was either going to leave with his check and his peanuts or be escorted out by the police and it "wouldn't be the first time."

The secretary then retreated to the back of the building and returned with his check, in full. He left the building with his check and his peanuts, never to work for that producer again. I can only assume he still likes peanuts.

*THIS* is something I gotta try doing one of these days...


Lesson 3 from comment by Allan

What I do now is create my quote at a full rate say $200/hour then offer a discount of 25% - 75% depending on the job and the client and past relationships and all that jazz. Discount is based on payments made in time which is clearly stated in the contract signed by the producer and I also require a credit card preferably an Amex card (No limit). Obviously this is a drastic step but after 45 days they loose the discount, assuming no discussions have happened, and on day sixty I run the bill through the Amex account and let them deal with Amex. So far with this policy no one has paid later than 60 days, and I haven't actually had to enforce the lost discount but I'm sure it will happen sometime. I think its mostly about respect and you have to make sure your clients respect you as a business, I'm not a bank and can't give my clients loans, which is essentially what not paying for more than 30 days is.

Very sensible. Though probably unheard of in this cowboy town industry here.


Lesson 4 from comment by Louie Stevens

Working on a video production once, I had a client who would not pay several me and all the other freelancers. We tried calling, leaving messages, emails, and one freelancer even went to this guys office - and left empty handed. Then I came up with an ingenious idea - I went to his website, copied and pasted his client list into an email to the producer stating that if I was not paid in full by the end of that week, I would contact every one of his clients on the list and tell them that he does not pay his freelancers. I got a check for the full outstanding amount in two days.

Nice and effective. Some bridges are meant to be burnt, especially if it's one that's leading to a giant trap of a hellhole.


At this rate, I think I need to be more hard-assed if I wanna be able to survive full-time freelancing.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Larry Jordan's Final Cut Studio Tip of the Day

Just added 'Larry Jordan's Final Cut Studio Tip of the Day: Real-world tips to working with Final Cut Studio.' - as a RSS feed on this blog *points to screen left*

Linkage by way of Shane Ross' blog post [reading through the back posts] at

I like my tips in dimsum-sized tidbits :]

I'm going for the Final Cut World Tour (Singapore)

Have been watching on a daily basis - and finally booked myself a seat when registration opened.

Haven't managed to google much info on what goes on in one of these things [pretty sure they're not giving away FCS2 as door gifts though :P] since the Tour has just started. But there's some mention in the Creative Cow forums that the emphasis is on Final Cut Server... hmm. Not very applicable to me for now but it would be quite useful to find out more about Final Cut in general.

The last similar event I went for was the Adobe one. While it was interesting to see all the cool stuff CS3 can do, it was geared mainly to the desktop and web people. When they had some audience interaction freebie giveaway, the print and design folks obviously knew all the Photoshop shortcuts more than video editor me!

Monday, May 12, 2008

What wrong with... me, the young FCP editor?

A blog post that had caused some ripples online recently:

What’s wrong with the young FCP editor?
By Scott Simmons

*checks the date* Oh, maybe not that recent... since it came out 2 day after my birthday... more than a month back. But it's still sparking discussion.

If we look at the article superficially, I'm probably doomed! Since I'm:

1) Young
2) Self-taught
3) Went straight into editing after school
4) Never worked in a 'proper' post-production suite
5) Never apprenticed as an assistant editor
6) Never cut on film... or even touched film
7) *points at blog title* I am a FCP Editor

[as I'm typing, I'm actually multitasking on my MBP, with FCP, Compressor and Soundtrack Pro running, while having close to 28 Firefox tabs open, uploading a rough cut onto YouTube for an overseas client and doing spots of text-based MMORPG gaming... and oh, just solved one of those pesky 'General Error' by isolating the problem clip].

To begin with, just based on the vastly different state of the industry here, as compared to the author's, some things probably can't apply. We don't have a guild system for the various specialized professions [which means no minimum wage and defined working hours/conditions!] and we barely make 10 feature films [so-called co-productions don't always count... esp. those who just come in for the STB/EDB moolah] a year.

As much as I don't have much contact with the really top-notch professional editors in Singapore, I also don't have much contact with the so-called young-punk editors as well. Reading the article tends to make me feel as if I belong to the latter group... but after reading it more carefully - and reading the other blogs by more established editors who commented on the article, I do feel a tad bit vindicated.

My main weakness as an editor, in the technical realm, is the lack of actual hands-on working knowledge with high-end formats. Then again, I remember that one-time I freelanced for an established production house which captured, for a broadcast TV program, using a consumer camcorder :P Sooooo... industry-standards are a little whacked.

I try to compensate by devouring info online, from the likes of Creative Cow and Larry Jordan's site, about new technological developments [mmm, RED camera?], better ways of working and the more thoughtful discussions on the 'art' of editing.

At this point, I wonder if I'll ever get to 'use' this knowledge, but I think having the skill of being able to quickly ferret for updated solutions online [Google is my playground!] is something important and useful. Especially when software updates, formats, compression, plug-ins etc are being updated so rapidly.

Perhaps, then, I do have the right to shake my head [together with the experienced chaps, but with less velocity] at some of the so-called 'films' that are put up on YouTube by 'filmmakers' :D For even though I'm a young punk on the surface, I am *!!!* by how many people now think that since they have some hi-def camcorder, iMovie/Windows Movie Maker and can upload something to YouTube - they too can do what we do!

Oh well, maybe I'm all *!!!* 'cuz this kind of thinking threatens my poor pockets [my fees cannot go down just 'cuz people start attributing less perceived value to it] and possibly make it even harder for clients to leave the important bits to 'the professionals' [for everyone's good, really].

At the end of the day, it's impossible to stop people form getting their hands dirty as 'media makers', whether as amateurs, hobbyists or professionals. Broadcast News channels are regularly using viewer-submitted footage shot with their increasingly-powerful camera phones; Every other 'youth/community organization' is holding a filmmaking competition.

So, for me, it's to keep on trudging and stay the course. Keep on learning. Keep on experimenting [in a good, constructive way!]. Keep on trying to find my place between the 'old school' and the 'nu skool'. I'm enjoying the ride so far ;]