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Becoming a Better Editor (but mostly a better human being)

COW Library : Art of the Edit : Kylee Peña : Becoming a Better Editor (but mostly a better human being)
CreativeCOW presents Becoming a Better Editor (but mostly a better human being) -- Art of the Edit Editorial


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Somehow -- and they might be lying to me about this -- but somehow, the year is over. What I mean to say is that this desk calendar I have is practically useless and I'll be writing the wrong year on my checks until St. Patrick's Day. I know, right? And I hardly noticed the 31st approaching so rapidly except for the usual influx of "year in review" or "resolutions for the new year" posts.

I've said before: I think resolutions are stupid. You're coming off a gluttonous couple of months where you've been feeding yourself whole pies and sitting around watching Netflix all day long, only allowing yourself to do so because when January hits, you'll be back on the wagon, one way or another. New Year's resolution! A brand new me! Except no, that's not what's going to happen. Only about 26 percent of resolutions last past the 6 month mark.

But everyone loves to talk about it right now, so I may as well tell you what I think. And I think in the year ahead you could all stand to make some improvements to yourselves as editors and camera operators and producers. No, not just you. All of us. There's always room for improvement, right? Nobody worth a damn would say they don't need to improve.

But here's the thing: I'm not talking about tech and software skills. There's plenty of talk about that and you all know what you know and don't know and need to know. I think that you (and me and all of us, but mostly you) could benefit much more from increased mindfulness in our contributions to the industry.

Like what? Like this.

Think before you blog/tweet/post. Whenever you're going to jump into a conversation or post a thought you had, just consider this for a moment: does this tweet add anything new to the subject? Are you rehashing the same argument? Is your blog post contributing positively to the industry? I don't mean to say you should only post glowing reviews, especially for products that cost real money and affect our livelihoods. But there's a difference between a good bad review and a bad bad review, and I think we need more of the former.

Every time you post something, just think about how it may be perceived. If that's the only thing a person has ever read that you wrote, what kind of impression does it leave?

Reduce your sarcasm. I'm a fan of dry humor in the right context. But sarcasm in text form is hard to decipher. And most of all, it goes with the point above: it's often a weak substitute for a real thought or reaction, and probably doesn't add much to the conversation. Instead of pulling out sarcasm, how about something more sincere, especially when you're in the company of strangers and acquaintances.

Ask someone how you can help them. A lot of the conversation online is someone asking for help. Asking for feedback, testimonial or assistance, maybe here on the COW, on Twitter, or a Facebook group. A lot of the time it's a question that's been asked a lot because it's someone who might be new to the industry or the online community. Instead of the typical "let me Google that for you, invalid", how about you actually help them out, smug-free? Not everyone is in the middle of all this conversation every day, so they may not be up to speed on everything. People come from all kinds of backgrounds. If you can't not be a smug replier, just move along.

Don't complain. Online or in person, I've sometimes found myself in the middle of a conversation that was beginning to skew negative. Sometimes it's the way a project is managed and our frustration gets the better of us. Or it could be negative feedback to something like a software update or the latest Apple computing device (what, that never happens!) Instead of joining in the complaints, change the sentiment. Look for a positive aspect. Call the crowd out for their nonconstructive whining. Or just don't say anything. It's hard to be positive (or even neutral) all the time, but it's also hard to work around a chronic complainer.

For that matter, does everyone always need to know your every frustration or negative thought? It goes back to the first point: if this one thing were the only thing someone ever read from you, what kind of impression does it leave? Are you okay with that?

Be honest, but don't be a jack-ass. I've known some people who thought of their cruel honesty as a badge of honor. They told everyone exactly what was on their mind and if it didn't go over well, too bad. Honesty is important, from big things to small things. Discretion is important too.

Leave things better than you found them. Online or in person, when you enter a place and leave it behind, it should be better than you found it. When it comes to online interactions, this means not leaving a mess of arguments in your wake. In person, set yourself up so that you can always hand over your work with minimal effort. Either way, you don't want your reputation tarnished by someone having to clean up a mess you made, literally or figuratively.

New Year Resolutions
Let things go. Don't hold grudges. If you feel a company or person has done wrong to you, let it go. Don't whine about it, don't tell everyone about your situation, and don't bring it up every single day. Because even if the opposing party is in the wrong, YOU look like the d-bag. And holding on to stuff that happened is a great way to never move on to bigger and better things.

Give back. We're lucky that we get to do this work every day, even if some days are annoying. Get some perspective by giving back to the industry in any way you can. Become a mentor, go to a high school or college, or make regular appearances in Basics forums to help out people who are just getting started. Volunteering your time to better the community improves everyone's attitude -- especially your own.

Try it for a day, a month. A daily affirmation. Think about your affect on the video production industry and ask yourself: is what I'm about to say, do, or type going to positively contribute to the conversation? You might be surprised at the things you don't tweet and how much happier you are each day.

Or you might compartmentalize all that negativity and go bananas on me in six months, in which case I'm going to say bring it because it was worth the effort.







Comments

@Becoming a Better Editor (but mostly a better human being)
by Linda Naks
Kylee:

Thank you so much for having revived such a thoughtful and considerable topic via this latest COW newsletter! Your efforts and caring do not go unnoticed :-) Your sympathy, understanding, and efforts towards "resolution" actually made me shed some tears at 3am this morning, while I was (STILL, hour 16) mixing almost-un-fixable audio for the NCAA. And NO, I am not being snarky or sarcastic here-- I truly do appreciate your thoughts.

I also wanted to reiterate Mr. Earle Nichol's earlier response r.e. Said Bob. I remain a huge fan of Bob's. I may not respond online here on a regular basis, but you can bet that I consult with COW's collective online expertise on a regular basis, and I watch like a hawk. This is my profession and my love.

After 18 years as a contractor in L.A., I'm not afforded much time to share how I feel. I need to pay f'n bills. I do not have a spouse, my family is 3k miles away, so bills are all upon my head. My job (when I have one) tends to be thankless. I "struggle" with my career vs. bills. vs. life every single day.

You have some very excellent suggestions for those of us in Post- to remain vigilant about getting into sunlight. Eating. SLEEPING. Great things about which we should all be reminded-- thank you!

However, I merely wanted to add one more comment r.e. Bob-- he kicks my a** when nobody else dares to. I know our mannerisms and online-writing styles might be neither pretty nor politically correct, but (IMHO) there remains a huge bit for anyone to acknowledge someone who actually works in the trenches, keeps improving them, and --heck-- inspires me like failed Art College 22 years ago never did.

Keep it comin', Kylee! You made me feel better this morning, that I'm not alone.

And keep it comin', Bob. Heh... you kick my a**, and I love you so much for it ;-)
Re: Becoming a Better Editor (but mostly a better human being)
by Earle Nichol
All great stuff Kylie!! I agree with your last post, but just a note...I watch Bob's posts pretty closely, and I can pretty much guarantee most of Bob's rants are for people that have been told "THAT" is a bad idea..but still continue down their suicide road...Just because you can...doesn't mean you should!! Don't go changing Bob!! I'm all for positive feedback..more constructive..but the odd "Moron" serves two means(maybe more)...one to set the subject straight...and one for us followers to have a great laugh..which in this world..is a great thing!!!
Thanks for the great article!!

Communication! Communication! Communication!
Re: Becoming a Better Editor (but mostly a better human being)
by Kelley Bassett
Perhaps the best advice is to use our god given "editing" skills prior to hitting the "post" button. I'll take fewer words, and more gratitude every time.

Kelley Bassett
Krash Creative Solutions
Raleigh, NC
http://www.KrashCreative.com
Re: Becoming a Better Editor (but mostly a better human being)
by Tim Lindop
I loved your article. As a relative oldster I wouldn't say that I am new to the internet. Spend years working in remote corners of the third world and the internet becomes your best friend. I will say that I find joining a blog discussion a tricky proposition. When researching new equipment I often find a blog discussion where individuals start viciously name calling for the simple offense that the target of their ire just didn't know some basic info. I have even responded by asking the angry blogger to remember his manners, an act that makes me feel 100 years old when I have to remind adults and pros with probably 10 times my experience to be civil. Your article puts into words the unease I have felt in the past about joining blog discussions while providing remedies and the carrot that in the end, behaving makes us better people.
Re: Becoming a Better Editor (but mostly a better human being)
by Paddy Uglow
Well done for imparting good advice about sarcastic posts (this isn't one! ;-) ) and the like. Though this year, for the first time, when I saw people writing about "resolutions" in various non-tech magazines, I was wondering why pixels and HD/4K etc was relevant until I remembered "new year resolution".

"Is 4K the new year resolution?" ;-)
Actually, I want to stick with 720 (and occasional 1080) and keep all my trusty old software and equipment and actually make movies. :-)
Re: Becoming a Better Editor (but mostly a better human being)
by Robert A. Jonas
Thank you Kylee, I agree that critical debate is important to progress. What should drive debate is the hunger and joy of creativity and the desire to face into the Winds of the New! Contempt kills creativity. Addiction to being "right" merely dumps water on the fires of the imagination.
I like your emphasis on mentorship. It's really satisfying to help others come along to their next challenge.
Re: Becoming a Better Editor (but mostly a better human being)
by Mike Cohen
A good mantra is "don't be mean" - what does it accomplish to post a snarky remark on social media or elsewhere? It does not make anyone's life better. Leave that stuff to the professionals (ie, late night hosts).

I came to this same conclusion, and as a result post less to FB. Photos of food and cats is about all that's left :)

Here's one of each:




Keep up the good work Kylee

Nike Cohen
Re: Becoming a Better Editor (but mostly a better human being)
by Sarah Taylor
Thank you for this post! I so agree with being more positive on forums. This is so refreshing and a good reminder that we are lucking to do what we do!
@Mike Cohen
by Kylee Peña
You should be on Instagram. With that kind of content, I would so follow you.

blog: kyleesportfolio.com/blog
twitter: @kyl33t
demo: kyleewall.com
Re: Becoming a Better Editor (but mostly a better human being)
by Douglas Bowker
Thanks for this posting. We could all use a lot more of this kind of discussion and thinking!

Doug Bowker

Motion graphics, video and 3D Animation for the Medical and Technical World
http://www.dbowker3d.com
Re: Becoming a Better Editor (but mostly a better human being)
by Sam Lanes
I have to agree with much of what you said, Kylee.

Only earlier today, I saw someone on Twitter complaining about some software which I use daily and found myself thinking "It's not THAT big a deal". Unfortunately, in my mind (rightly or wrongly) it reflects poorly on the person who has posted.

I think the kind of 'debates' that occur online that really turn me off are the sort that feature people that are completely decided in their view and refuse to concede any points that someone else might raise that doesn't fit in with their agenda. It makes me think of an argument about politics, which I often find to be the most dull subject to have a discussion on as it often descends into a standoff that the participants can't leave alone.

I also think, in the modern age where we can broadcast our immediate thoughts, that there is often a lack of perspective in what is being said. Saying something at the height of frustration will have a slightly different slant to the same point being made after the event and a period of reflection.

Interesting thoughts about the way our use of social media can occasionally be unintentionally misplaced.

http://www.aefromscratch.com
@Sam Lane
by Kylee Peña
Yes, definitely. People tend to jump to social media to vent, and it's not like in real life. That stuff sticks around and people may put more into it than you ever intended.

blog: kyleesportfolio.com/blog
twitter: @kyl33t
demo: kyleewall.com
Re: Becoming a Better Editor (but mostly a better human being)
by Bob Zelin
Hey, is this about me ?
In my rants, and in turn, ranting reply's from others,
I am inspired to research new areas that I never would have considered. In a recent aggressive thread on Creative Cow, I was challenged about a technical subject (Thunderbolt networking), and during this confrontation, I said to myself "gee, maybe I DON'T know what I am talking about", and once again, Creative Cow has introduced me to subjects that I would never have considered, and have changed the direction of my career.

Without Creative Cow leader Lance Bacheldor, (from a post in 2008), I would never have been inspired to do shared storage, which has dramatically changed my career, and my ability to make a living. Without critical editors like Walter Biscardi, and my "bantering" with him on an open forum, myself and other manufacturers would NEVER have been able to develop products, and move forward, without his observations, and feedback (which could be deemed aggressive and critical by some) - but is CRITICAL to our industry.

Should I be a nicer person in 2014 ? Probably. But should debate be removed from Creative Cow (like the FCP-X or Not: The Debate) - NEVER ! I feel that the aggression moves us forward. Without a forum like FCP-X or Not, many people would simply have forgotten about FCP-X. But it was those that championed FCP-X (and fought about this product openly on a Creative Cow forum) that has kept everyone aware of the progress of this software, and how it is becoming a very credible product in our industry.

OK, OK, I guess I should never write "you moron" ever again...............

Happy New Year -
Bob Zelin

Bob Zelin
Rescue 1, Inc.
maxavid@cfl.rr.com
+1
@Bob Zelin
by Kylee Peña
Not to damage your ego, Bob, but I actually didn't think of you at all when I was writing this :)

Of course I don't mean to imply we shouldn't have critical debates. That kind of commentary makes our industry go around because like I said, we HAVE to do this stuff so we don't waste our money on products or companies that don't work for us. What I'm saying is there are two ways to go about most debates and criticism. The FCPX forum is full of great debate that has created a lot of great ideas, changed minds, and probably contributed to the positive development of the product. That's awesome. Then you have people who want to rehash the same arguments, don't want their minds changed, and throw link-baity obviously divisive blog posts out into the wilderness just to do it. That's the bad kind.

All I'm saying is try to keep the contributions positive. And yeah, sometimes that might be NOT posting something negative. I think people would be surprised at how much online debate really does bring them down in a real way, emotionally. Taking a step back, even occasionally, is worthwhile. But you can have positive contributions without the comments themselves being positive.

But sometimes people do deserve a "you moron" salutation on their forum posts. It can't be helped.

You moron.

(KIDDING.)

blog: kyleesportfolio.com/blog
twitter: @kyl33t
demo: kyleewall.com


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