Dear Scott Simmons

I stumbled on Scott Simmons’ Studio Daily rant “What’s wrong with the young FCP editor?”

And I responded:

Ok Scott, as an English major with a concentration in Language, Writing and Rhetoric from University of Maryland at College Park, my initial observation is that you are caught up in the rhetorical analysis of definition, i.e. “What is an editor?”
As a 29 year old editor & producer (yes, a Preditor) who was trained on Avid and now holds Apple Certified Training certifications in Final Cut Pro, Motion 3, and Color, I’d have to say your comments are borderline ageist and NLE biased. But I digress.
I found lots of value in your observations that many young editors don’t understand efficient timeline management, media management, how to output an edit decision list, etc.  But guess what: regardless of your perspective that these are fundamental skills inherent in the title of an editor, kids with FCP skills are still getting their videos up on YouTube and Vimeo with millions of views, millions more than most broadcast shows will ever receive, despite how many iterations of dvd sales and ipod sales they go through.
I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to matriculate my Avid offline / online workflow, my Avid media management workflow, and many other Avid-centric skills, and implemented them into a Final Cut Studio workflow with great success.  Many of my peers don’t have the opportunity to learn an Avid workflow because the old steel doors are sealed shut unless you want to work a 6pm – 2am shift with lavish titles such as E2 or Digitizer with the hope that one day, 10 years in the future, once you’ve crossed the age 30 barrier, the old Avid guys will swoop in and title you Assistant Editor.  Now you can try making a stringout!
Or, buy FCP, a Macbook Pro and a Canon HV20 and start shooting, cutting, and posting to a the growing New Media outlets available to everyone right now.  Which choice would you make at age 21?
So to bring this back to my initial point, as an industry we may need to reconsider what it is that defines an editor.  I’ll take it on my 29 year old shoulders to assist those who don’t know why betacam sp tapes are pre-blacked with timecode starting at 00:58:30;00, why it’s important for a Color grading workflow to have a timeline with just one video layer and all your motion projects and still images exported as self contained quicktimes and then reimported, and why you might want to check out the manual controls on the HV20 to control the amount of light being recorded.  I hope you can realize that endless finger pointing, role defining, and ageist viewpoints will only isolate the old Avid farts into a corner to find themselves drowning in the crashing new wave of innovative video production workflows.
I look forward to a continued civil discourse.
Best Regards,

Peter Salvia


4 Responses to “Dear Scott Simmons”

  1. April 10, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Peter, great comments. As a “Preditor” with lots of certifications you could hand me an edit that you had begun and it would be proper and I would be able to work with it without any problems. But if I got that same edit from a 21 year old who has only had experience with video that has only gone on You Tube chances are it would be a jumbled mess. If all they do is You Tube then who really cares about their project organization and Beta tapes and all that? No one … and not me either! But my bet is that 9 out of 10 of anyone getting a million views on You Tube has ambitions beyond that (at least until they can make a lot of money from it) so when they get hired to produce a “real” show (whatever a real show might be these days) then a lot of them are missing that knowledge to do a show properly with all that a “real” show brings. Sure it can be learned and many seek it out and learn it. But many don’t. Which is kinda like anything in the world huh?

  2. 2 psalvia
    April 10, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Scott, thanks for posting to the blog.
    Respectfully, once an edit passes through my hands, it’s ready for broadcast. Also, a large amount of broadcast work is posted to youtube everyday so you may be getting ahead of yourself assuming everything created for youtube is hastily put together.
    But I do agree that the people posting to youtube as amateurs do have aspirations beyond their current amateur status. And I appreciate your admission that the definition of what makes up a show is rapidly changing. Have you seen MacBreak? That’s one highly produced podcast!
    But back to square one, I’m concerned that you’re assuming young FCP editors are obtuse and happily wander through the forest of video production without seeking out knowledge. Personally, I think experienced post pofessionals should proactively educate beginning and intermediate users of advanced techniques that may in our mind be somewhat trivial and basic yet could be totally mind blowing and awesome to someone who hasn’t been exposed to a year’s work inside a post house.
    Optimistically, I think that my Avid mentors have and will continue to learn a lot from me about FCP, Motion, Color, Compressor, etc. and conversely I (and other young FCP users) can continue to learn from seasoned Avid users like yourself.
    I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about Final Cut Studio, just shoot me an email. I strongly believe in proactively offering up knowledge to those who seek it out so the evolution of the industry doesn’t pass us by.

  3. April 10, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    Hey again Peter. I wasn’t saying that you yourself couldn’t get an edit ready for broadcast… I was saying that IF for some reason you did a pre-edit and had to pass it on then I am sure it would be organized and properly prepped for another editor to take over because you have had training and sound like you know what you are doing. But there are many who hand over edits who don’t know. I’m always happy to teach those who want to learn and even to this day try to learn myself if there’s something I don’t know. Of course there’s broadcast tv on you tube I watch it all the time… but that is mostly created by broadcast professionals. If all your edit experience is putting your own videos on You Tube then you really don’t know what goes into a professional edit. Not that a “professional” editor is any better or worse than anyone else, just different. It’s when the You Tube editor tries to enter that professional world things can get shaky. Of course not ALL young FCP editors are obtuse, it’s silly to assume that I thought that. There’s some damn good ones out there. But there’s more who don’t know of the world outside of their install than do, IMHO. Thanks for the offer of FCP help.. but I’ve used it since it’s first version 1.0 shipped so I know quite a bit. I’m not an FCP hater… in fact just the opposite. It’s a fantastic tool that sits in my toolbox on the same tier as Avid.

  4. 4 psalvia
    April 11, 2008 at 1:45 am

    Scott, hopefully you didn’t interpret my offer to answer Final Cut Studio questions as an attempt to condescend. I meant it as a courtesy offered from one professional to another.
    I’m still a bit concerned that you’re so focused on alienating users who are not subject to the same barriers of entry you may have been or I may have been. Technology is changing faster than industry cultures and mindsets and that’s a fact we all have to deal with in our own way. My hope is that if I can persuade you of anything it’s to consider an evolution in your perspective. I think you have a wealth of knowledge and craftsmanship to offer to this industry and I’d hate to see you perceived as an ageist and skeptic by the younger professionals you will come to know if (you haven’t already). These talented young people with a fundamental lack of understanding of the finer technical aspects of editing, animating, grading, compressing, etc. are the very people who will be employing us both for the next 10, 20, 30 years. I’ve found myself in a position to inform or alienate less knowledgeable users and have prospered exponentially from choosing the former.
    Perhaps part of what you’re frustrated with is a lack of recognized industry standards for defining professional editing skills, definitions which range the spectrum from facility to facility, production company to production comany, and business to business, at least here in Washington, D.C. Thinking proactively, what is a list of skills a youtube editor would need to add to his / her arsenal to meet your standards of a professional editor? I think your answers to these questions can do a great service for our professional community to promote growth and assure minimum levels of production quality.

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