Jun 14, 2010
Guy With A Library Card: Issue 05
Weapons of Mass Distraction
Written by M
I like days like today. After a week of plus twenty and more, the weekend dropped ten degrees and spring rains have greyed our skies. It is a perfect weekend to edit video. Not because I will be inside all day, quite the opposite. I prefer to be out, driving around enjoying the sights, the sounds and the smell of rain. I know it's weird but I love this weather, it calms me and there is no better time to relax. This is why it is perfect for editing.
First, I want to paint you a picture. When I edit, I am in my basement. It's always cooler and I prefer that. In the north west corner of the room sits a sticker-ed up beer fridge. Beside it, sits my PC and on top of the fridge sits the monitor for this computer as well as various office and computer contraband. Next to all of this is where I sit. My desk hosts an assortment of equipment making everything fairly accessible as well as two more monitors that wrap me in screen. Beside my desk are where my Mac and hard drives sit. Moving on are two small filing cabinets. The grey one that hosts my paperwork also holds my printer. The rooms is then divided by the door and a small wall about two feet long. On the other side of the wall the room is set up to be more of a lounge. There is a futon along the north wall and at the foot of that sit a TV and PS2. To the right of the TV is a fireplace. It's actually a very cozy place to work any time of the year.
Editing is tedious and, to some degree, boring. You sit at a computer for hours and meticulously rip apart your camera work. You play around trying things out and trying to figure out what works best for this specific instance. You try to remember/guess what you had in mind for edits while shooting. It is affected by the pace of your entire project, the shots before and after, the sound scape and so many other slight differences, it is hard to wrap your head around what you are doing. And you do it over and over and over again. It really is a black art. For anyone to say they understand it, I believe it is a lie. It's always changing and is dictated by trends and technology. It is impossible to truly know if what you are doing has some sort of mass appeal at this stage. It is frustrating and for these reasons it could very easily be one of the hardest aspects of what I do.
However, because of the challenge, it is often the most rewarding aspect when things turn out or are better than expected.
This is why I prefer days like today to edit. I am calm and the weather helps with that. I prefer to work in the dark. It makes the screens pop making visual adjustments easier, the clouds provide this all day. I also find that my eyes are fairly sensitive to light, so having the dark room prolongs the time I can work. This light issue also helps with relaxation. Thus, the weather has the profound effect of making the process a little more enjoyable. I understand this is likely not for everyone but for me, today, is money. My productivity will go way up, while the day feels like I haven't worked at all.
Part of the reason it won't feel like work is because of the process. This is where the library and my room set up comes to play. This week I picked up a few movies from the library. Before I start to cut, I run to the nearest 7-Eleven and grab myself a Dr. Pepper Slurpee. Today I will cut for a bit when I get bored I will pop in a movie and watch part of it. Then cut again while drinking my icey goodness. Sometimes I will keep a movie on in the background just so there is something that can take my mind away at times. At this time of year, often, it is the playoffs. I will continue to work and break all day with the many things I have to distract myself with. Before I know it, I'm tired and ready for bed. Things get done but it feels like I had a weekend to hang out at home. I accomplished some work, watched some movies I wanted to and possibly souped up my Subaru in Gran Tourismo. That's a decent weekend. Calm, relaxed and accomplished.
If you're wondering what kind of movies I watch, well, it's usually a mix of things. Most often, it will consist of a documentary and an action film. This weekend I have at my disposal an Imax movie called Everest, Shaun White's First Descent and a very acclaimed documentary called Trouble the Water. With these, I also got The Last Boy Scout and Over the Top. So by the end of the weekend I will have learned something and it will be confirmed that Bruce Willis is the coolest action hero of all time, football and I mix well for movies and Sly had his time with this classic. I am pumped for it.
The bottom line is that inspiration is overrated. I go through great lengths to keep myself pre-occupied. Editing in this way keeps my mind going, the wandering off keeps it fresh, and when you mix this in with a long period of time it keeps your outlook and critical thinking sharper. Plus, at any given time, these aversions can offer some practical use as far as how you style your edit, pick and pace your music and visual effects to try out. Throughout film school, I used major distractions to keep me fresh, like playing hockey and associating with people not in film. This tactic works for large scale creative formation. Your creativity is defined by being open to all aspects rather than only being a complete film dork or 'what ever it is you do' dork. A one track mind will be a one trick pony. It's taken me a few years to find what works for me and everyone will have a different strategy, but I believe the aim is all the same. A good distraction will keep your mind open, your ideas fresh, your eye for detail critical and make the process as relaxed as possible. And if you ever watch Over the Top you'll want to put a weight set by your computer.