You know how I've been a bit anxious about whether I'd be able to cope with plunging into the deep end with film editing? Well, over the weekend I defragged my computer, installed my shiny new editing software and on Monday I plunged in. It took me a while to get my head around thinking in three (four?) dimensions at once, but I really enjoyed it. After four hours I'd very nearly finished my first ten-minute clip, which felt like an awfully long time, but the work was so engrossing I didn't really notice time passing.
I did discover, contrary to my habitual multi-tasking ways, that neither my PC nor my brain can cope with doing editing at the same time as anything else. Of course I can't play music - obvious, but it took some getting used to as I normally have music on continually at home. I had to pop out halfway through to pick up some groceries, and my brain was so ensnared in the editing process that I had to come back home twice to collect things I'd forgotten, and then I forgot something else when I headed out in the evening. And my usual habit of having social networking open alongside work proved impossible: I closed all my other applications, and focussed properly. It felt good, though: learning new skills always does, and in this case my mind felt particularly, pleasingly challenged as I tried to simultaneously learn the new software, hold various variables in my head and piece everything together like a 3D jigsaw puzzle. And the sense of achievement when I stopped was immense.
Thanks so much to Michael Stamp for acting as my editing coach while we were working on Acquiescence. If I hadn't spent those days watching someone so experienced at work, I would have had a much more daunting task ahead of me. I like learning new things, and I'm so very grateful to those with the patience to help.
Incidentally, this process has taught me something interesting about how my brain learns best. Here are my ideal learning methods, in order of preference:
- Attempting something new myself, being in the driving seat, but with someone experienced and patient behind me to answer questions.
- Poring over someone else's uncompressed project files (or psds, or xhtml/css, or whatever), looking at what tools they used when, googling the things I don't understand and learning new effects I hadn't known before.
- Plunging in on my own and working it out by ear, googling as I go.
- Watching, making notes and asking questions while watching someone else work.
- Reading online tutorials.
In other words, applied > pure, and getting my own hands dirty is better than anything else. In the case of editing, I did (4), then (1), then a tiny amount of (5) before realising it was pointless, then (3).
The other important thing, it seems, is timing. Theoretical learning methods such as (4) and (5) are much more useful if I immediately follow them with something practical. That's true for most people, I think. I was particularly grateful for the excuse (in the form of the re-edit of Acquiescence after the original file was corrupted) to do some more editing with Mr Stamp, a year after my first visit with him. A year is, of course, far too long for any of that information to stay in my head. The second time round it was familiar, and stuck faster. If I hadn't had that refresher course I would have been lost trying to edit on my own.
Tomorrow is scheduled for working on my own projects (hurray!) and I'm looking forward to getting another chunk of editing done (and if not, at least another chunk of learning). I can't wait. Lucy McLean has sensibly pointed out that I won't find the prospect so exciting when I have a backlog of hundreds of videos waiting to be edited, but it seems to me that just means I should enjoy the novelty while it lasts. My backlog is a meagre ten and a bit - enough that I can work up to the more complicated ones slowly, but not so much it seems overwhelming.
I promised myself I'd put filming on hold until I'd proven to myself that the editing was, at least, possible. Well, the software works and my graphical/audio skills seem to be transferrable so far. My relief at discovering that I can, after all my foreground confidence and background anxiety, make it work, is almost euphoric. In a few days I'm going to let myself start plotting my next shoot, but for now the editing joy is more than sufficient. Stretching my brain, learning new skills, realising my vision ... it may yet all go horribly wrong/not be remotely profitable, but right now I'm having too much fun to worry about that!
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