Location Doesn't Matter Today
There was a time when you had to physically move to New York or Los Angeles to learn and get a job in visual media production. There was a time when everything was shot on celluloid film, then tape, now it’s all digital. Add to that how far the Internet has evolved technologically, and where location was everything in the past, Location Doesn’t Matter Today. I’ll look at how this has changed our industry in terms of my own experiences and those related to me by many, many others who’s careers and incomes have been drastically effected by the Internet and digital media.
Time was broadcast stations, both local, national and international would pull their top few editors and send them to an Apple Authorized Training Center to get trained. Not that they needed to learn editing, but Final Cut Pro specifically. These trainings were 3 intensive days with lots of data overload and cost from $950 - $1200 per classroom seat. The first authorized training I taught was in Atlanta, GA to 3 FOX News editors, 2 CNN news editors, a Discovery Channel editor, and a local TV station editor. The training center took in $8400 of which I got paid $900 (FMC only paid $300/day, I was so underpaid and naive back then). Yes, training was a booming business. I was traveling non-stop from one training and consulting gig to another all over the United States. I had just come from a previous profession that had me traveling non-stop to do technical IT trainings already, so I was used to it. I taught many different organizations with many different needs in many different environments (details here).
But over time, more and more DVD training courses were sold. Then online training courses as video downloads and streaming got faster and easier. Now there’s so much FCPX training on YouTube (although much of it is garbage and has bad information) who needs to spend a dime? But if you want quality, I’d still recommend something trusted and structured like macProVideo.com or RippleTraining.com.
What happened to Apple Authorized Training? Since the days of Final Cut Pro 7 it has been dying out. Broadcasters are not spending that much money on training any longer since video editing is the new literacy. You can get a couple of dozen semi-experienced editors fresh out of collage, or fresh out of their own wedding video businesses, in any town at any given moment. Used to be only Hollywood features and national TV networks were 100% of the editing business. Now it has expanded to event videographers, corporate productions, independent production companies, and the infamous YouTubers. Features and TV are now a tiny drop in the bucket of the industry, and they’re not paying for training. The rest are small businesses that can’t afford $900 - $1200 a pop for basic training. Thus, online is king, thank you Internet. Is there anyone can get that training without the extravagant travel costs (either to get to a training center, or get a trainer to you).
Today Apple has turned authorized training over to a LearnQuest, and there’s been no increase in classroom training bookings. It is rare an Apple pro app training gets booked. The vast majority scheduled get canceled due to lack of sign-ups. I’ve had LearnQuest cancel almost 40 classroom and live online trainings on me, for lack of sign-ups. Not to mention Apple’s authorized training book runs 6-9 months behind the upgrades. Meaning when a major upgrade is released, the training isn’t upgraded until a few months before the next major release. Classroom training is dead. I also predict “authorized training” programs by developers will die out soon for everyone. Third party video training is much to easy to get and much cheaper. Let me point out at this point that Apple’s IT training classes are booming, it’s just the pro app trainings that are pretty much dead in the water. And the certified pro user status isn’t really worth anything these days, it means nothing to most employers.
Consulting & Integration
I did a LOT of consulting and integration (installing stuff) gigs. Especially with Final Cut Server. But Apple pulled all of that without warning or any buffer period, and my income was cut by 2/3 overnight, literally. Final Cut Server was huge, and was a cash cow for me. I still do some consulting, just not as much. And it is all online via a mixture of email, texts and Skype. I get a phone call or email requesting consultation, I ask for a list of specific goals/needs, they send me an email of answers with more questions. Eventually we talk over Skype. Then I type up a recommendation paper and email that to them. Done. And most of the time I don’t get paid now, or I get paid very little, and there’s no travel expenses. Rather than take 2-3 days out of my week, I do it all in a morning or two at home while my kids are getting ready for school, then done. Thank you Internet! In fact I was DIT and consultant for a new reality TV show about two years ago, and I needed some help. I paid a decent fee for an hour and a half of Skype conversation with FCPWorks. I got a ton of information, didn’t have any travel expense, and a few minutes later I’m cooking dinner for my family that night.
Not too long ago, as an example, Oliver contacted me via my Facebook page about some difficulties he was having. Oliver is a really great guy, by the way. Bear in mind that we could have very well been on totally opposite sides of the planet, it wouldn’t matter. Over the course of two or three days we got to the root of his issues and cleared them up. And all this for free, cause that’s what I do.
This is not an isolated case. I do this pretty regularly. User forums are really nice, but you are subject to the personality politics, prejudices and flat out bad information from the guy who can get the ugliest and meanest and most degrading to others. I tend to avoid forums these days as the information you get now is so unreliable. You have no idea who’s giving you that information, no clue what their credentials are for speaking with authority. You can easily find an expert with a proven track record and contact them directly and get the help you need faster, without the politics and prejudiced misinformation.
I’ve taken part in a few online collaborations during pre-production, production and post-production. With the average speed of Internet connections, the low coast of hard drives, and the low cost and fast speed of shipping drives, long distance collaborations are super easy. There’s no reason to get overly bogged down in unnecessary complications. This is just way too easy these days, and can expand the abilities of a production immensely.
I am currently working with a client who is a marketing agent. She has a couple of TV shows as her clients. I do post-production for them. They shoot, I download the footage and handle all the graphics, sound and editing. When done I export two copies. One is a tiny MP4 file at 720/24 for review. Once approved I upload a much larger 1080/59.94 MXF file to a distribution service. We don’t bother with closed captioning*, nor the nightmare of encoding half a dozen different formats for half a dozen different TV stations to upload to half a dozen FTP servers. One upload, the distribution company handles the rest. Super easy, super fast and not very expensive.
*I’ll save my rant about closed captioning for another blog post coming soon.
It doesn’t matter where you live or set up shop. And mobile video production can be done out of a lunchbox or backpack with top quality results today. Online connections and resources are overly abundant. Simply remember the saying “buyer beware” and you should avoid the pitfalls of today’s Wild West type of media production environment. In fact, I have given up on classroom training and work totally online now. I run the FinalCutProX.guru web site, here, offering resources for free. I have a side business that almost replaces my lost income from the death of Final Cut Server and the Apple authorized training program for pro apps (their IT training program is booming). And if you have a question, an issue, or whatever, just drop me a line, I’m glad to help.