Sometimes, I Don’t (Get to) Edit

In December, the same team that traveled to New Mexico for their School Marketing Video went to Oklahoma to film a short video on switching schools mid-year. All of our shoots were spread out in the suburbs, so most of what I remember from Oklahoma is the highway, but we did spend one awesome night in OKC that culminated in running around the canal like kids.

For this video I shot the tight interview cam, occasionally asked an interview question, and was on non-slow-motion B-Roll. Waking up before dawn to drive an hour to film a gymnastics lesson was totally worth it when I got to take my shoes off and climb all over the gym equipment with my monopod.

My boss took this edit while I finished up the New Mexico video, and while it’s weird seeing someone else edit my work after so long of doing it myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Another School Video + First Business Trip!

In early November I traveled with my manager and our marketing liaison to¬†Albuquerque to film our last school marketing video of the year. The idea is to film one school event/field trip and to do B-Roll with a student at home, and that’s exactly what we did. The field trip may have been more hectic than we bargained for, so much so that I begged to not edit this one myself, but in the end I pulled everything together fairly decently.

While I’ll probably never film interviews in front of an aquarium again, I would happily return to New Mexico for hiking and salsa verde.

School Marketing Video and a New Job

Three days after I started with my new employer in September, I was asked to create a school marketing video from new footage, however I thought best, given only a few examples from which to model my edit. I (plus marketing, legal, and the school) think I did pretty ok.

The trust and freedom I was afforded with this video is incredibly wonderful, and I can’t wait for more such work to come!

Video Editing: Spiritual Fitness

Jeffrey and I connected through Upwork, and I edited the majority of the video lessons in his Spiritual Fitness class. What a wonderful experience! I do truly pay attention to content while editing, and I would often find myself following his exercises and completely losing my editor’s train of thought!

The video featured in this post is a teaser for the course and did not involve me in any way. It was just the only publicly available video as what I edited is part of the course.

Interested? Check out the Spiritual Fitness course (and my work) here.

After Effections Animation: FTIR Spectroscopy For Your Application

This was the culmination of almost a year’s worth of work, often just thinking and imagining between other projects, and I’m beyond proud that I will finish¬†my employment with this company on such a high note.

Highlight Reel: Super Art Fight All Killer No Filler

Let me start by saying I truly believe this project is cursed. Super Art Fight (SAF) published this today from an event on March 12, that they contacted me about in December/January-ish. This project is the first time I have experienced (or even heard of!) Premiere Pro corrupting every single file on import. This is also the first time I’ve had an external hard drive die (after I re-loaded all of the corrupted files, of course), was forced to upgrade OS in the middle of editing and then switch to an all new machine while still in the middle of editing. I expect challenges and mistakes to take place during production, but I really thought I had post-production on lock until this bad boy came along. Live and learn, as they say.

I dragged my feet on agreeing to the project because I knew I couldn’t do it alone. Eventually my favorite Priscilla Thomas agreed to love and support me in my time of need. We began our friendship in Audio/Video class, after all. Priscilla drove up for the weekend with extra gear, snacks, and a exactly the right attitude to keep me going. Not to mention she busted her butt to overnight me footage that was lost when the files originally corrupted on import. I couldn’t have done the shoot without her, and she said it was the easiest shoot she’d ever done. Ha! Sometimes emotional/moral support is all you really need.

This project is also a beautiful lesson in trust and communication. SAF and I have a good working relationship and I consider them much more of a partner/collaborator than a client. They did a show at my wedding, after all. So we had a situation where I think we trusted each other too much. This happened in pre-production where phrases like “like last time” were used but never really explained only to have me slightly confusion and a little panic-y when production began and we had to have the “well what did you mean by that” conversation. Trust, but verify, folks. Trust and verify.

Same situation in post-production, where they said they wanted a highlight reel to help advertise/show off who and what they are. I had never edited a highlight reel before, so I took the entire event in chronological order and edited my favorite parts together. If I watched it the video on YouTube, it probably would have convinced me to see a show in person. But what they actually wanted was a high-energy, fast-paced reel that showed potential venues/hosts the jam-packed, epically happy audience and the frenetic energy of the artists and they didn’t care about chronology. This stumped me.

This is also when my MacBook Pro died. I brought it back to life and my external drive died. I actually drove to a Best Buy for the first time in years, in tears and 10 minutes before closing just for a new hard drive. I ordered a brand new iMac and had plenty of time to think. My husband set up our spare room as an office for me and I began to post-it note up my favorite moments, along with those (I finally asked that) SAF specifically mentioned.

Help help I created a work area without adequate post-it space!! #editorproblems #storyboard #videographerlife

A photo posted by Heather Haynes (@haynesha) on

I stared at the post-it notes, moved them around, and remember how much I loved storyboarding on blank walls during grad school. I watched commercials for concerts and sports highlight reels and began to cut in a way that made me uncomfortable but that I was pretty sure was correct.

I delivered a new draft and after a month of busy schedules received a response that basically said: “Can we add an explosion at the end?”

The lesson here: always ask questions, always be willing to adapt and push yourself, and work with whom/what you love.

Video Editing: It’s Not Always Sexy

The majority of my editing work isn’t sexy, or even necessarily interesting. What I try to stress before starting any project is that a video should be necessary. When the best media to deliver a story is video, I’m your girl.

Much of what I do at work is just training colleagues to set them up for video success. Whether that means teaching them to use a microphone, or the difference between showing/speaking information. It’s a waste of everyone’s time to have me sitting next to someone recording with PowerPoint or Camtasia, so I coach as much as possible (and sometimes collaborating for a first draft) and then edit away.

Here’s a good example of that process. This video was created out of a desire to educate viewers on a particular topic. I’ve been working with different microphones and training material for colleagues, and this is the first time that I was able to hand over the mic (a Rode NTG-2) and received back 100% usable audio right away. All I had to do was clean up the speech, tidy the PowerPoint slides and export for YouTube.

Boom. Done. Education.

It may not be sexy, but it’s still satisfying.

The Art of the Technical Product Showcase

Last month I showcased a technical/support video project (read the post: Supporting the Support) that we began in 2014 and continue to update for that particular product. Keep that in mind and know that one of the challenges of my position is that I’m the only video/media person in the entire international corporation (that I’m aware of). With the success of the support videos, another product manager asked for a cleaner version geared toward prospective customers for his upcoming product.

We in MarCom jumped on the idea, but we had to develop a new video standard that was above the support video, below the product marketing video…clean enough to pass the guidelines for being on our website but nitty-gritty¬†enough to be believed by the highly technical people who are our potential (and existing) customers.

So we bought more lights, brought in subject matter expert who loves to be in front of the camera, and wrote a rough script. We kept expectations realistic by reminding all of the stakeholders that this was essentially a proof of concept — that the first time we do anything there is an unspeakable amount to learn.

I think everyone’s proud of what we came up with. The only snafu we ran into is that one vendor neglected to ship one part, so we lost an entire day while our in-house R&D team printed and milled a new adapter for us. Well, “lost” is a strong word because we used the time to practice what Simon was going to say.

Overall, this video was a success. Everyone involved was happy and sees where there is room for improvement going forward. Most importantly, everyone is happy enough to want to produce more like this. Here’s to progress.

Supporting the Support

Whenever I start to think that my portfolio isn’t meaty enough, or that I’m not publishing often enough, I try to gently remind myself that the vast majority of my projects (both at work and for freelance clients) is for internal/personal use only. Weeks of my life every year are spent on software tutorials and home video compilations. I try to remind myself that I complete these projects with pride and that each of them meet their specific goal, even if that goal is meant for an extremely narrow audience.

When we release a new product (or make changes to an existing product) at work, a large task for me is working with service and support to provide comprehensive documentation. Sometimes a technical drawing with call outs is sufficient in a document, sometimes I shoot step-by-step photos, sometimes I even shoot real-time videos as reference for our field team.

For our newest product, the product team was clear that they wanted to join the 21st century and provide support videos for simple tasks that customers/users could complete themselves. This allowed me to create a new video standard somewhere in between the high caliber needed for product videos and the (relatively) low production effort put into internal-only videos. I was lucky enough to work with a patient product team that trusted my expertise while sticking to what they believed was best for their customers (such using subtitles only, which I fought tooth and nail).

In the Fall of 2014 (after months maybe even a year of pre-production), a product manager and I spent one full week filming the most necessary videos. By the end we were both lying on the floor of the conference room (my make-shift studio space) laughing with delirium and unable to remember what our notes meant and what we still had to do. She and I still use that as the standard to gauge how stressful a project is. And I now limit all video shoots to one week, period. If the shoot requires more time, we take one week off. Period.

As the videos were started before market release of the product, some parts and procedures changed, and we’ve been re-filming and re-editing as recent as last month. The video I have linked in this post is one I’m particularly proud of, because of how long it took to get all the details right. Making sure the dye in the bottles was dark enough to be seen in the lines, but not so dark as the viewer couldn’t tell what color it was supposed to be…unscrewing the line fittings without blocking the view or making a mistake…and accidentally using up all of the dark blue gloves so that we had to switch to light blue in later videos. (I now buy my gloves in bulk, put my name on the box, and lock them in a storage room. Continuity is serious business.)

What I love most about support videos is the learning opportunity they provide. When I attend conferences / symposia, I can hold my own talking with curious prospective customers about any product that I’ve done support videos for. And at it’s most basic point, that’s why I chose this profession; I wanted the opportunity to gain knowledge and access to things that I wouldn’t otherwise have access to. So even when I produce for a closed audience, I’m still growing.

Tough Subjects, in audio

In the fall of 2014 I attended the RTC staff retreat. I felt like very much the outcast, their video person in a beach house full of writers, written word editors, operations people, etc… when everyone broke into their teams or discussed their processes, I was completely left out. The final night of the retreat we all sat around the table to discuss how to, as a company, tackle a large project for a client of theirs, Oconomowoc Residential Programs.

Somewhere in the conversation it dawned on me that the writers record their calls(/research) with clients (and why wouldn’t they?!), and that RTC has permission to use those calls in whatever capacity, and like a strike of lightning… I knew I had to do audio pieces. The content already existed, it just needed to be lovingly crafted into a narrative!

I was given several interviews each for two disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Prader-Willi Syndrome, and created two downloadable content pieces to compliment upcoming articles. I got to work with a writer (new for me) and craft pieces that were meant to speak to parents of children with the aforementioned disorders. After a lot of listening, highlighting, Google-ing, talking to the writers, talking to friends in psychology fields… I finished two very specific pieces.

The first piece to be published, on ASD, focuses on extremely violent child behavior and exists behind a paywall of sorts.

You’ll need to enter your e-mail to listen to it. The parents go through heart-wrenching situations and I’m still haunted by some of their anecdotes at times.

Now the second piece, on Prader-Willi, is a true emotional roller coaster. It took so long to gain approval from ORP that I stopped receiving updates from RTC on the project and only found it today when updating my project list on LinkedIn (true story). My name isn’t even on the page, but I remember all 13 minutes and 10 seconds of that finished piece, and that’s my voice introducing it, my voice warning you halfway through that you’re about to hear something awful, my taste that decided just how much hysterical sobbing was enough… I’m proud of this audio piece because I included the toughest topics and fought to keep them included. I’ll be blunt with you here: a kid chokes a puppy to death in this story. It’s awful, and it’s a really good reason why people with Prader-Willi need very precise care. If including that rough/controversial anecdote convinces just one parent to push for better services & care for their child, then it’s well worth it my book.