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 ;]