One of the best lessons my father ever taught me was to take care of tough jobs as soon as possible.
“Better behind you than in front of you,” he used to say.
Just eight simple words but they can often mean the difference between joy and all sorts of procrastinated misery.
I haven’t always followed my Dad’s advice, but I recently applied this golden rule and I was very glad I did.
I gave up my Friday night to edit the two scenes I shot in my film director’s class. It was quite challenging, since editing—like directing—is new to me.
But the editing is an important part of the class. Todd, our instructor, told us that when you look at the raw footage, you’ll see what you have, and, more importantly, what you don’t have.
Now I have to say that the finished work will never be mistaken for a Hollywood production, but at least I got the job done and I have something to show in class. And I was able to enjoy the rest of my weekend.
We had all downloaded our scenes on to flash drives so we could edit them. My only problem was that after I got the video into my computer, I had no idea what to do next.
This is particularly irritating as I’m sure there are grade schoolers who can shoot and edit video while listening to their iPods, surfing the Web, and texting all their friends at the same time.
A classmate suggested downloading Final Cut Pro for the 30-day free trial and I thought this was a great idea. I went online, pressed a few buttons and in no time at all I had this fantastic editing software in my computer. There was only one problem.
I couldn’t figure out how to use it to save my life.
Don’t get me wrong—Final Cut is a tremendous tool for filmmakers and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. This is definitely an "it's not you, it's me" situation.
Splice of Life
I see now that Final Cut is not something you can learn overnight, especially if you’re a natural born technophobe like me. I felt like I was sitting behind one of the consuls at NASA’s Mission Control Center.
I couldn’t get the footage in the right sequence. I’d press a few buttons and suddenly the middle of the scene was now the beginning—and I couldn’t undo it. My classmate told me she printed out the Final Cut manual, which runs more a mere 400-plus pages.
I knew I would never get the footage edited in time for the class screening. I was getting all twisted and I thought I’d have to skip the class entirely. The whole business was eating away at me all week long.
But then I tried thinking instead of worrying. My computer comes equipped with the iMovie program and I had taken a few how-to classes at the Apple Store last year.
I didn’t remember much about it, but I recall it was pretty simple, and that’s just what I needed. I set up the footage, blocked off a chunk of time on Friday evening and went to work.
I felt like Dr. Frankenstein building his monster as I stitched the scenes together. Each time I added another few frames of video, I watched the scene grow longer and longer. After several hours and a few calls to tech support, I finally had my two scenes edited.
I wanted to scream out "It's alive! It's alive!" But I controlled myself.
The cuts are jumpy, some of the shots don’t match up as well as I would like, and I see things I would’ve done differently on set. But I did get the job behind me. And I have to say it was very exciting listening to the actors as they said the lines I had written.
So it looks like I’ll be ready for the screening. I’m sure my younger, more computer-savvy classmates will be displaying far more polished work, but at least I won’t show up empty-handed.