Video editing is a scary thing. Something can go wrong at any time. A hard drive can fail, media goes missing or your NLE can give you crazy errors like the ones below. You can’t tell what these errors even mean so how can you get started trying to solve the problem?
Going out on your own as a freelance editor with your own gear is even scarier. There’s no other editor to ask for help and you (probably) have only one computer. Errors need to be solved quickly before they turn into crises that could ruin your business. Fortunately for video editors there are a ton of places to seek help.
Video editing software does some wonky things and the errors are nearly incomprehensible for reasons we’ll never understand. The first place to go when you get an error or have a question about the software is the forums.
- Avid Media Composer Forums
- Adobe Premiere Forums
- Apple FCPX Forums
People hang out there all day and answer questions. Individuals like Marianna Montague on the Avid forums keep folk like me sane by answering questions quickly and accurately. She’s helped me out of a number of jams and I know she personally even goes out of her way to email you resources to help you in the future.
A word of advice! Before posting on any forum make sure to fill out your system specs. This makes it easier for people to help you out.
Isn’t it obvious? Type in your problem or error into Google and see what comes up. More times than not the software’s forums will be listed first, followed by the one of the sites below and then various blog posts, which could also be helpful.
Creative Cow and Pro Video Coalition
On Creative Cow you’ll find articles, tutorials, demo reels, gigs and more. The majority of my knowledge for two different NLEs I got from watching the tutorials here. It also has an exhaustive list of forums for most post production software.
Pro Video Coalition has articles and tutorials on just about anything related to post production. It will keep you up-to-date on industry trends and new features in your software. There are a few experts on Pro Video Coalition whose content I read every bit of. You can find a ton of information here about whatever issues you have but you may have to dig a little bit.
Try fitting your problem into 140 characters. If you can do that, Twitter could be your solution. It’s difficult to describe your problem in that little amount of words but the payoff is that if you know the right people or target it the right way, you can get near-instantaneous feedback.
A few weeks ago I had a dire situation. I edited a video for a client on my NLE. However when I showed up to deliver the project and load it and all the new media onto their system something happened. None of my bins would open. That’s because they were on an older version of the software! It’s a Friday evening and it’s up to me to fix it. So what did I do? I hit the forums. Everything I read told me I was hosed and it could not be done. Without an answer I would have to re-edit the piece on their system! As all hope seemed lost I decided to reach out on Twitter and ask for help from my fellow video editors.
Avid MC 188.8.131.52 can't open 7.0.2 bin. Upgrade not an option. Help?— Josh Short (@editvideofaster) January 24, 2014
A follower responded within minutes with a solution. I couldn’t believe it. My night, weekend and sanity were saved! If you decided to go the Twitter route, use the hashtags #PostChat along with #[yoursoftware] – e.g. #Avid, #MediaComposer, #AE, #FCPX. This will get your word out to anyone who is monitoring those hashtags. You can always ask me too at @shortedits and I’ll try my best to help you out!
Lynda.com is extremely useful whenever you want to learn a software or business topic. But did you know you could use it to solve problems when you don’t know how to do something in certain software? Simply type in what you want to learn, e.g. “Expressions in After Effects,” and all the courses with lessons pertaining to that topic will show up. Lynda offers a free 30-day trial to start with.
Another source to seek out help are blogs. There are a bunch of editors out there with blogs. If they have a tutorial that has the potential to help you out of a situation but isn’t quite right for you, leave a comment. Most bloggers respond within a day or two and if they have a large following other commenters might offer advice as well! Take a look at the blog’s blogroll to find similar blogs and keep them bookmarked.
Warning: Almost anyone can post a video to YouTube. The entry barrier is so low that any high school student can throw up a tutorial on how to do something. While YouTube is a great place for people to start making a name for themselves it’s hard to know whether or not they actually know what they are talking about. Use the advice you find there at your own risk! Don’t enter in any Terminal commands on a Mac or Console commands in Avid or run unknown Scripts in Adobe products unless you are certain these things will work.
Where do you go for help?
Between the forums, professional websites, blogs, Internet search engines, social media and more you can probably find the answer to any question you have related to post production. Where do you go for help? Was there a time when you had to reach out for help and it worked? Share your places and stories below!