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The Importance of Continuing Education

In my last blog post I briefly went over some of the major changes in the post-production world in 2010. Particularly I chronicled the arrivals of Avid Media Composer 5 and Adobe Creative Suite 5. This has raised an interesting follow-up topic: how important is it to keep up with modern innovations in production technology? In one simple answer: very.

As the production world continues to change and adapt around us in the digital age, it is incredibly important to keep up with those changes. It wasn’t that long ago that nobody had even heard of an iPod, and now we’re using iPhones to shoot, edit and output HD films. A clear understanding of the technology around us is crucial to remain a relevant member of any production team.

This is probably most evident with camera operators and post-production crew. For the most part, they are the ones dealing with rapidly changing technology the most. Camera operators are now faced with the challenges created by new formats and cameras, namely changing from film based to digital, but lets not forget that the shift to HD for television is still a relatively recent switch as well. We’ve gone from SD to HD to 4K in an incredibly short period of time. With cameras like the RED Scarlet and ARRI Alexa now, we can expect the trend to continue as digital quality swells, while prices and camera sizes fall.

When I say post-production crew, I am referring most specifically to editors and VFX artists (including graphics). It seems every day there is some new piece of technology coming out that can improve the workflow or abilities of the post-production crew. MC5 and CS5 this year are large sweeping examples of this, but it’s the specialist companies that keep the industry constantly changing. Companies like Red Giant Software, as one example, have revolutionized time and again the post-production process time and again by utilizing the idea of plug-ins. For a post-production crew member, these plug-ins are easy to install into your existing software and can offer incredible levels of control over video. Magic Bullet Looks, for example, allows anyone to easily and quickly create engaging, cinematic looks for their footage. They have presets for this plug-in, but an in depth understanding of how the Looks Suite works allows you to set your work apart from those who use only the presets. Another fine example is the work done by Andrew Kramer over at Video Copilot, who has taken full advantage of plug-ins to create affordable effects filters for After Effects.

While camera operators and post-production crews are the most directly affected by this rapidly changing technology, producers, writers and all members of a production need to have at least some understanding of how the process works. This allows a team to work together more smoothly. Every editor has been told that an edit should only take them so long to do by a producer that has no real grasp on how editing works. Learning new technologies doesn’t only allow those directly involved to use the technologies more efficiently, but it can create a culture of respect if those using the technology know those in charge of the production have taken the time to learn how their process works. Once we’re all speaking the same language, we can all realistically set goals and workflows.

Luckily, the modern technology has also made keeping up with technology far simpler. No longer do we have to take time off to learn all these new workflows, though seminars and trade shows are still excellent options, instead we can take to the internet (or the cloud as the new buzz phrase would have it) and search out affordable training and tutorials on any specific piece we need.

With training and education at our fingertips, there is really no reason to allow technology to pass us by.

So what do you think? Is technology moving too fast for our own good, or is it pushing us to where we need to go with our productions? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

This blog was made possible by NewMediaWebinars.com, creators of online seminars for digital filmmakers.


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Categories: Editing, Movies, Shooting
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