Ranting about wannabe editors

Great rant over at Studio Daily, about how owning a copy of Final Cut doesn’t on its own make one an editor. Duly noted, heh.

There’s a flipside to this, however: just as one sees lots of people who claim to be video editors, but who’ve no idea about the offline/online workflow, so one also sees lots of post-production facility houses who’ve no idea about the web video workflow.

Finding someone to take up the slack on SciCast is going to be extremely difficult – and not just for technical reasons. See, I also need that person to have the practical savvy to spot safety hazards, the production experience to know what can and can’t be cleared, the editorial expertise to judge helpful and problematic tweaks, and the academic knowledge to recognise content that’s plain wrong.

At the moment, it’s not clear how that generation of film-maker is going to get trained up. So, I watch Scoble’s demo of a Newtek Tricaster, and I think four things:

  • “Shiny! There are times I could really really use one of those!”
  • “The 80s are calling, and they’d like their tasteless DVE moves back.”
  • “$8000? This is going to get killed as soon as hardware catches up.”
  • “Wait – live broadcast is hard. This is going to be early-80s desktop publishing all over again.”

I think it all comes back to one problem, and one worry:

The problem – shiny new equipment and falling prices are great, but the real challenge is working out how to maintain anything like high production values, when the people using the gear haven’t experienced high-value productions.

The worry – audiences will take what they can get, and high production values will simply die. YouTube is evidence of this, though YouTube without copyright-infringing material might be evidence to the contrary.

One solution – Apple, please please please open up iTunes video in a similar way to the signed iTunes artist programme for indie music. Being able to sell videos through iTunes would be… interesting.

(for more of this sort of thinking, see Gia’s post about several things, including professional journalism and blogging.)


  1. Hmmmm… interesting take. What exactly do you mean by “post-production facility houses who’ve no idea about the web video workflow.”
    I’m inrigued.

  2. Scoble’s video is an example of ‘just cos you can do something doesn’t mean you should’. A 19 minute video on the web??! Surely, the story warrants 3 minutes at most… The difference for me between ‘amateur’ and ‘professional’ is the ability to edit. By that I don’t mean, of course, simply being able to use FCP, but an ability to edit out the superfluous rubbish and just leave the important stuff.
    You are absolutely correct that people will watch what they are given…

  3. @Scott – good question. One of those things that felt right as I wrote it, but now you’re making me work it through. I’d assumed I was thinking about the weird experiences I’ve had where post-production facilities have wanted to go from DV source to Quicktime output… via AVR3 and a conform to DigiBeta, then a re-ingest. Which is plain ridiculous. And certainly, I can’t think of any TV facilities house I’ve worked with that really knows about desktop video compression. Several who claim to, but they just twiddle the defaults.
    But that’s not really it, is it?
    I think it’s back to production, actually. The ‘old way’ was to have a production team, with researchers finding stories and pitching them to a producer, who’d make editorial judgements and commission directors to go and film successful pitches.
    The ‘new way’ involves the researchers calling themselves ‘producers’ (or ‘self-facilitating media nodes,’ if you spot the reference), shooting stuff themselves, and often cutting it too. Where’s the Production in such a circumstance? Specifically, where’s the production value?
    One way out of this is to have not ‘post-production houses,’ but plain ‘production houses.’ The place you go to do your video project – both as a story on film, and from a project management perspective.
    That model would imply editors gaining a stronger editorial voice, and post-production coordinators turning into production managers. Both these situations are common already.
    The trouble is, we’re continuing to make the editing process cheaper, simpler, and less mysterious. People are buying Final Cut and finding they can operate it, without assistance.
    So I worry when post-production facilities are places I regards as integral to the programme-making process, but inconsequential to the web video process. For the web, I do it all myself. I’m not at all sure what the future holds for post-production houses, but I’m convinced the video we watch will suffer as a result.

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