Camera to Cloud Has Changed How I Work as an Editor
If there’s one thing I know about myself it’s that my creative energy has got to go somewhere.
If I couldn’t throw it at my job, then I’d probably be out thrifting for vintage furniture to splatter-paint or taking up a pair of knitting needles. Something. Anything. That energy’s got to go somewhere. And there’s something about editing that takes all the other things that are swirling around my brain and swallows them up. It’s quiet.
There’s so many moving parts that I can’t focus on anything else. Kind of like being in the eye of a storm. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it’s an editor thing, but I’m calmest when I’m in a deep cut. You know, that first pass? The one that came from you before the notes and revisions start?
Sure, you have to let it go and address the notes and revisions until it’s no longer your baby. That’s the job. But that first pass is a labor of love. It’s an escape from everything else. I love the days where I’m just knee-deep in a new edit because I’m not thinking about anything else. It’s kind of Zen.
We’re all so busy and so preoccupied these days that it’s hard to carve out the time to be creative. And I don’t care what your day job is, we all have creative energy that’s got to go somewhere. I’m just lucky because I get to throw it all at a timeline.
Which is just as well, because I don’t think knitting is really my thing.
How it started. How it’s going.
I guess it’s true of most people, but I can’t really say that I planned out my career with any accuracy. By the time I hit college, I had a pretty good idea of the kind of things that I loved, and the things I didn’t. And college fell into the second category.
But at least it gave me the opportunity to take on eight internships, four of them at different creative marketing teams within the Viacom family (now Paramount). In particular, Viacom Catalyst—the internal creative team for all things Viacom—took a chance on me and it was an incredible internship. Michael Boczon and Hector Cardenas allowed me to use their production gear, shared their in-depth knowledge of Final Cut and Photoshop. They helped me find a lane for my creativity and I’m forever grateful for that.
And these Viacom internships really paid off, landing me my first job as a production assistant at TV Land (a Viacom network) just two weeks before I graduated. This kept me pretty busy, but I started practicing my craft by cutting promos for shows during my off-hours and asking for feedback from the TV Land team (who were generous with their time).
Eventually this sidebar editing helped me get noticed and assigned real hero promos, which got me bumped to associate producer/editor on Younger, and eventually producer/editor.
Younger was The Little Show That Could. The whole marketing team looked at it as our baby and the five seasons that I worked on this show transformed me as creative editor. My boss, creative director Laura Kane, was incredibly supportive. When I brought up the idea of doing Inside the Episode shows for Younger, she gave me the go-ahead and told me “They’re your idea, so go cut them. Just make sure you’re telling the viewers something new.”
All of this taught me the value of collaboration and connection from the earliest stages of my career. I owe a lot to the support, feedback, and guidance from the people I’ve worked with in my career (and I hope I’ve given back some value in return). So it makes sense that, after a quick detour via Hulu, I’m sitting in the editor’s chair at Frame.io, now.
Breaking new ground. Again.
My first experience of using Frame.io was when a mixer I was working with sent through a review link. Now that I’m using it every day, it seems weird to look back at how groundbreaking it was to see comments and notes in one place, version stacks, comparison views, and all the good stuff that we just didn’t have before. For me, being able to travel back in time to previous versions (with comments) was a lifesaver. But now it’s something that I take for granted.
I guess that I’ll feel the same about Camera to Cloud in time, but for now it’s still incredible. As a freelancer or a remote worker, you get used to the client shipping you a drive. You sign the docket, grab a diet Coke and get started. But now I’m on set with the Prod Squad (our internal production team), watching the files stream in from the cameras, and it really has changed how I do what I do.
For me, it’s not so much about being able to start work the moment the cameras stop rolling. I mean, having the files sooner doesn’t really make a difference to the time it takes to edit something, right? But eliminating that gap between wrap and edit has really changed being an editor by giving me way more influence in the projects I’m working on.
Before now, that shipped drive was everything. If you couldn’t find a shot, you knew you were just going to have to find a way to edit around it (once you’d spent hours making sure that it really was missing). The set’s been broken down, the rental gear’s gone back, the actors have all gone home, and you know there’s no way the client’s signing off on the cost of a pickup.
“You know there’s no way the client’s signing off on the cost of a pickup.”
Now, when shots don’t match, I can just turn to someone on set and say “Hey, I think we’re missing something.” The actors are still there, the set’s intact, we can grab what we need and move on. And that’s pretty amazing.
But what’s new to me is having that line of communication with the director while the production is taking place. It’s not just about catching mistakes before they happen, it’s being able to look at assemblies and rough cuts together and get a sense of how the shots we’re getting are matching up with the intent for the project—maybe even pivoting to try something new based on what we’re seeing on the day. It’s crazy.
In some ways, Camera to Cloud changed everything. I get brought into the productions way sooner than before, and I have so much more input into how they turn out.
But at the same time, an edit is still an edit. So there’s a lot that hasn’t changed. The building blocks of a story are still the same. The skills I’ve built over the years are still as important as they’ve always been.
If I had to come up with a metaphor for this, I’d probably talk about going back home for a visit a while back. While going through my old stuff, like my old high school cellphones, I found a portable DVD player that I used to love.
It was the thing that everyone was bugging their parents for. I had one of those plastic wallets filled with discs—usually John Hughes movies or episodes of Friends—and I remember how great it was to have the media I loved at my disposal, all the time.
But no-one uses them today, because why would you? We’ve got Spotify and Netflix. Just about anything you could think of can be piped straight to your phone, or computer, or TV. Whenever you want. Wherever you are.
Film, tape, hard drives, memory cards… They all seem a bit restrictive when you can pull up a file, or find a comment, or share your rough cuts with the crew before you break the shoot down for the day.
Don’t get me wrong, I think there’s always room for nostalgia and the art of things like film—I collect vinyl—but I’m also very practical. And when something gives you more control, or saves you time, or allows you to find ways to be creative that you didn’t have before, I think you’ve got to grab it and go.
Or you can stick with your portable DVD player. You do you.