Creativity and talent are a huge part of being a professional sound editor. But our talents can only take us so far. I get questions all the time about finding work and have written another post specifically on how best to make this happen. Today however, I want to talk a bit about not just getting work as a sound editor but building a career. Because the way we approach our every day challenges can be just as important as the way we pour our creativity into them.
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If you’re a creative working professional, it’s likely you don’t have time for your work-life to be a mess. Co-owning a sound design company, Boom Box Post, I quickly realized that simply skating by with a handful of half baked systems was not going to cut it. I needed help to be sure important threads both creatively and professionally did not get lost. Phone calls to return, projects to review, notes to give, even remembering to stand up (of course there’s an app for that). There's a lot to keep track of and a lot that can get lost.
A quick search in the Mac App Store for ‘productivity’ currently shows 158 results. There are a TON of tools out there to help you try and organize your life. Here are a few tools for Mac, iPhone and iPad with my thoughts on how I’ve used them to make my work life run smoother; leaving more time to focus on the creative.
I've been in the industry long enough to notice some trends among successful sound editors. Those that stick around and do well for themselves, ensuring the longer term show placements, share a handful of characteristics. Here are some traits I've found have served all of us well here at Boom Box Post.
Working in post audio has been an excuse to purchase all kinds of audio toys. As one of my good friends once observed, I seem to suffer from G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). I've spent years building up an arsenal of tools to add to my creative routine, pining over the latest and greatest software, synthesizer or control interface. That said, as I grow older and more patient, I have narrowed my focus.
Which brings me to the Avid Artist Control. It had been a while since I invested in something new and frankly, I was feeling some gear-based FOMO. So I researched like crazy (a big part of the fun for me) and decided to go for it. As it turns out, this little piece of gear packs a huge punch in my day to day workflow. Here's how I've customized this beauty to utilize it's very deep skill set.
Daylight savings time is upon us. Not the fun 'bonus hour of sleep' daylight savings, but the 'where did that hour go?' daylight savings. After the promise of resolutions and new beginnings that come with the first few months of the year, here we are in March and it's easy to find ourselves running into creative blocks and falling into old patterns. Here are some small changes that I've found made a big difference in my creative output.
Cut Notes, by Digital Rebellion is an iPad note taking app that works seamlessly with digital audio workstations like Pro Tools as well as many non linear editors. I've mentioned the app in previous blog posts; discussing its time-saving application in my day to day workflow as well as naming it one of Boom Box Post's Top 5 iPad apps for sound designers.
I utilize Cut Notes by syncing the app over WiFi with Pro Tools. As my timeline moves, so goes the timecode on the app, printing precise locations on each note in real time. I find this especially useful for client spotting sessions. Once complete, my workflow involves me copying the text from Cut Notes and pasting it into a google doc for the specific episode or project. These docs are shared with the appropriate editors on my team, giving them pristine location-based notes to follow as they work (it also saves them from having to interpret my chicken scratch hand writing).
Being such a fan, I decided to reach out to the app's developer, Jon Chapell with a few questions about the app, and plans for its future.
Film is a collaborative medium. We all know this. However, when it comes down to the day to day grind of sound editorial it's very easy to get caught up in the time crunch or creative rabbit holes, ignoring where the work is heading; the mix stage. This is a major mistake. As a sound supervisor, I value collaboration just as much as I do the creative output of my team. And there's a lot that can be done every step of the way to support collaboration in the post sound world. That's why I preach one simple philosophy; think like a mixer.
One challenge any modern business owner will inevitably face is data sharing and storage. It's not sexy. In fact, it's super unsexy. However big data is a fact of life and in post-production we collect A LOT of data. So I'm going to throw caution to the wind and dive right in. At Boom Box Post we've gone through a few iterations. Here's how (through trial and error) we solved our big data issues.