Learning New Skills

When I started Podcasting a number of years ago now, I had to learn how to edit audio.  I learned tips and tricks from folks like Mark Blevis and others  at Podcamp that were just the thing I needed to make ordinary audio sound much more like professional audio.  After hours of experimenting, trying new things, and making tons of mistakes, I figured out how to produce audio that was consistent and broadcast quality, but there was definitely a learning curve involved.

At the same time, many of the folks I met were starting to produce video for the web.  YouTube was still in its infancy,  and much of the web video was still invisible or unwatchable by most folks at home, because broadband and high speed internet was still a luxury, not ubiquitous.  Streaming video would come in choppy or “tiled” – if at all- for many folks, making all the great and fun shows online, ranging from Ze Frank to Scriggity even more niche.  The technology of receiving and streaming audio and video files over the web lagged behind the ability of people to produce great content.

As I watched all the folks struggling with video on the web, I decided to stick with audio.  Initially, I thought audio was perfect because I was much more likely to listen to podcasts while in the car, or in the background while working or working out, and I saw video as a distraction, especially when it came to “taking head” type discussions- it’s only so interesting to watch a bunch of people sitting around gabbing.  But over time, I’m realizing visual story telling, just like doing slides for a presentation, has a place in my repertoire of production skills.  And it’s time to upgrade my geek license.

WHYY in Philadelphia has a fantastic series of classes in its Digital Commons that are perfect for what I need.  Over the past two weeks, I have taken a series of classes involving how to effectively shoot more compelling video and a second series of classes about effective video editing, which are starting to pay off immediately.  The other folks in the class have a variety of their own personal, documentary and business projects in mind, including a few who want to know enough in order to work with other editors and be able to speak the same language, to know what they need, even if they aren’t always doing all the editing themselves.

I’m enjoying this class more that I can express.  It’s been a perfect blend of learning what I need to know to get started, with learning some short cuts to make things easier than if I tried to learn all of this with a manual on my own.  Learning tricks about how much A roll and B roll to shoot, how to hide video cuts with B roll and sound overlays, and how to make good transitions while telling a compelling visual story fits right into what I already know about this from creating slide presentations, editing podcast audio, and basic photography skills.

I feel like I’ve been unduly afraid of video production for a long time, but my existing skill set fits nicely into this medium, and I’m ready for this next level.  (In fact, I’m wondering why I waited so long to give it a try, actually.)  I think what happened is what happens to many people- we develop a prejudice about something based on our own fear; we justify our opinion to ourselves for very legitimate reasons, but we forget that the initial decision was based more on fear than on reason.  In the end, I find that yet again, I have been standing in my own way, and I’m so glad I decided it’s time to change that.

This next year, I’m setting a goal to try at least one new thing a month. I’m going to do things I’ve resisted, or thought I could not do, and simply explore.  It’s time to get out of the comfort zone again.  It’s time to actively get out of my own way, as often as possible, and to stop placing barriers to success in my own path.

What have you always wanted to try but have been avoiding?  What makes you a little nervous and uncomfortable?  What obstacles are you placing in your own way to justify not doing that thing?  What sort of things would you suggest I try next?

Discovery, education, happiness , , , , , ,
  • http://www.markblevis.com Mark

    Wow! That seems like forever ago. And, in many ways, I suppose it is.

    I still really enjoy telling a great story through audio. I find it exciting to collaborate with my listener to create scenes and imagine places/situations. Even as I’ve migrated to video myself (something I resisted in the early days being the audio snob I was), I still miss that magic and look for ways to bring sound and visuals together in a way that involves the viewer rather than feeds or guides them.

    There are two reasons I’ve also taken to do more in video. The cheap and easy answer is that people understand videoo better than they do audio. Certainly as far as identifying it and playing it on the web. YouTube did for video what noone really figured out how to do in audio. The people who are the closest (Will and Bill of Castroller) have amazing ideas which arrived a little late so they’re likely to be successful within a sphere of interest rather than achieving mass appeal. I hope they keep it up.

    The real reason I’ve gravitated to video is leargning curve. I’m motivated by steep learning curves; tough climbs. I will always grow in audio just not at the same pitch I did until a few years ago. Video presents that challenge — learning to tell a great story using a different medium. And as I pointed out, figuring out how to bring the gifts of audio into the gift of video to create a unique relationship between me and my audience. No doubt I’ll have to travel through traditional experiences as I go which is all part of the learning experience… learn the traditional way then turn it on its head.

    I think it’s less about what I do or did resist at this stage and more about recognizing some fabulous opportunities to grow.