How can I learn more about the technology of my industry?
May 13, 2011 3:26 PM   Subscribe

How can I get more tech-y?

I work as a television editor on AVID and Final Cut Pro. I know these two pieces of software quite well. What I don't know is...all the other stuff.

Boss: Good cut! Let's crunch that down to something that can be read on [big boss'] laptop!
Me: Um...

Boss: We need to rip this DVD and take a scene from it.
Me: Um....

I'd like to replace my answers with "You bet, boss! Here's what you do..."

I'm pretty good with making the pictures pretty, and the audio sound good. Good at putting visuals together with sound and telling good stories, but ask me what codec is best for exporting a 30 min sequence, and I'm lost. Ask me what's the best method of ripping a scene from a DVD on a Mac and I'm lost. AVID goes down, and I'm flummoxed. I know many editors who will climb behind the system and fix the damn thing on the spot. I know many editors who can discuss codecs and resolutions and release notes with you ad infinitum. I'm just...not one of those people. I have no passion for it. I like putting shows together. It's like a puzzle, and I'll learn the tech I need to do it. But I'd be a lot more valuable to a company if I can expand my reach a bit. So I'm trying to learn more of the tech that will help me become a double threat in my industry. Help me compete with "those guys!" Where can I learn this stuff? How do I keep current on the newest and latest? Is there a way to develop a passion for this kind of thing? I'm tired of being a one-trick pony, and nervous that I may not be viable much longer if I don't keep up.
posted by Spyder's Game to Technology (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Read Lifehacker
posted by inbetweener at 3:28 PM on May 13, 2011

A tremendous amount of it is just following the questions until you have the answers. How do you rip a scene from DVD on Mac? Google it. Read a bunch of answers. Try a few (ignore the ones that require you to buy software). When you're not sure which settings to use in the conversion software, read the forums for that software, or post a question. Look up unfamiliar terminology on Wikipedia or other sites. If you really don't have the passion for this, it may be hard to stick with it. If so, you might want to consider whether you're in the best job for you. But, for now, read, ask questions, and keep repeating until you can answer the question like someone who knows what he's talking about.
posted by maxim0512 at 3:33 PM on May 13, 2011

I don't know many editors who don't rip from DVDs, download from YouTube, etc. I think MPEG Streamclip is used for ripping a dvd into fcp, and I like Tubesock for YouTube. I work mainly in documentary and the editors frequently do everything, rather than just make it all nice.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:50 PM on May 13, 2011

The people at the Video Help forum can probably, uh, help. I don't hang out at the forum, but I always end up at their Howto Guides when I need to figure out how to rip a dvd.
posted by nooneyouknow at 3:55 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Editing is changing, and to keep doing the part that you love, you have to learn to do and tolerate the other boring stuff.

Like maxim0512 says, Google it. But also TAKE NOTES while you're trying to do your new thing. Do the same task three or four times in a row. However you learned to edit, apply the same method to the weird things your boss asks for.

You work with Final Cut? Then you probably have Apple Compressor on your machine, and the online help/manuals that go with those two programs. Compressor is a nifty tool when you have to export versions of a show for mixing, for closed captioning, for approval, for your reel, etc. Learning what Compressor can do and how to do it will help a bunch.

If you have other friendly tech guys around, trade skills. I've been teaching a colorist at my firm how to get things done with Compressor. Lately I've found myself learning to be the equivalent of a tape op for digital files. It's a little humbling. But when the current gig goes away, having those skills will really help you land a new gig.
posted by infinitewindow at 3:59 PM on May 13, 2011


No really, just start doing it. Even for the very tech savvy, a new project has a bunch of details that need to be tracked down and worked out. Video has an incredible set of options and variables so it takes time and experiments, but slogging through a few and you get to know that it's not magic, mostly persistence.
posted by sammyo at 5:11 PM on May 13, 2011

Seconding the Lifehacker recommendation. The write ups there taught me about ripping videos with Handbrake, how to save YouTube videos, and fun things to do with VLC among other things. Dig into the archives for info on the topics that relate to what you need.
posted by dragonplayer at 6:00 PM on May 13, 2011

Thirding Lifehacker for sure. One of the only websites I read religiously. Also where I learned how to build and troubleshoot computers. Beware, this can be a curse. Once people find out you're a nerd they'll be hounding you constantly for tech advice. Sometimes I think it would've been best to stay in the clueless category....
posted by no bueno at 6:40 PM on May 13, 2011

My tech skills boil down to, really, knowing how to operate a search engine. I find I'm pretty useless without an internet connection.

I mean, obviously I do learn stuff and remember how, especially for stuff I do often, but when people say "hey, you're a techy person, why is this not working" I might have a few ideas but often need Google to help me out.

My Dad does FCP editing and loves visiting the various forums. He talks about "LAFPUG" a bit (I think that's LA FinalcutPro User Group.) Even if you don't have a question, reading other people's questions is informative.
posted by titanium_geek at 9:34 PM on May 13, 2011

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