This blog was sparked by a question Hasan A. asked on last week’s webinar: “Ask Larry Anything.” He wrote:
With all the tech companies providing free editing software and free tutorials all over the place, how can editors retain their important role and convince the client that they are still important and worth their normal rate?
I keep feeling that we are heading toward the “everyone with Photoshop is a graphic designer…” phase.
I think this is absolutely true. We ARE heading toward a “‘Everyone with Photoshop is a graphic designer…’ phase.” In fact, everyone now has Photoshop and, as we know, there is no need for professional graphic designers because there’s no professional graphic design being done today.
Which is, of course, not true.
The exact same thing is happening with professional video editing. DaVinci Resolve is free, Adobe Premiere is available on a subscription basis, and Final Cut Pro X is affordable for just about anyone interested in editing. Therefore, everyone now has the tools necessary for professional video editing. Does that make them an editor?
There will always be a need for a simple edit of a self-shot movie to cut out the garbage and post the results to Facebook. That market continues to grow, but that market doesn’t hire editors.
In my workshop, I have a hammer, a saw and a level –
but I can’t build a house. I have the tools, but I don’t have the skills.
In my workshop, I have a hammer, a saw and a level – but I can’t build a house. I have the tools, but I don’t have the skills.
This illustrates a problem we’ve had for a long time. All too often, video editors define themselves by the tools they use, not the skills they have. If you define yourself solely by the tools you use, you’re going to be competing with the next college graduate that has Photoshop, or Final Cut, or Premiere installed on their laptop. And you are going to lose.
I can buy a hammer, in fact I can buy every tool necessary to build a house. But I do not want to live in whatever it is that I build with those tools.
It isn’t our tools – it’s the stories that we tell, our dependability, and the client relationships that we build that sets us apart.
There’s another core skill that can’t be overlooked: any editor who’s working professionally knows how to work efficiently. In fact, even more important than story-telling is the ability to get a project done on time and on budget.
Most of us take this for granted; meeting deadlines is deeply embedded in our psyche. But, I can assure you from years of teaching college students, that efficiency and organization are not traits any of us are born with.
For any client, given a choice between someone who is wildly creative but never meets a deadline versus someone who is a solid story-teller and dependably meets budgets and deadlines… well, there’s no contest. In today’s perilous business climate, dependability wins. Clients need to count on their partners.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog about the upcoming competition we will face from artificial intelligence (“I’m Worried About The Future of Editing“). This week, we are talking about competition from new people entering the market. The creative arts have ALWAYS been competitive.
It isn’t our tools – it’s the stories that we tell, our dependability,
and the client relationships that we build that sets us apart.
Which means that, as editors, right now, more than ever before – we need to concentrate on building our creativity and story-telling skills.
When working with our clients, don’t simply ask: “Can I edit a video?” Instead ask: “How can I help you find more customers?” “How can I help you explain why your products are essential for people to purchase?” “How can I help you further your business goals?”
It isn’t the tools we use that make us valuable, its the benefits we provide.
The more that we are seen as a benefit to our client’s business and not simply an unwanted expense, the more valuable we become. Yes, it’s true that a client can say: “My cousin will edit our videos.” But, that assumes all we do is push buttons. The more we’re seen as a strategic benefit to our clients, the more valuable we become.
The more that we focus on creative story-telling – in all of its different phases – the more people will demand our services.
The more that we define ourselves as simple tool operators, the more quickly we are going to be replaced.
This, I think, is the essential thing: Anyone that WANTS to own Photoshop can own Photoshop. But that doesn’t mean that they are a graphics designer; that they know how to create compelling images, or understand the emotions of fonts, or design with colors or improve composition… All the things that a professional Photoshop artist does on a daily basis to create art that is irresistibly compelling.
Creativity, dependability and efficiency are the cornerstones we build upon to create videos that are irresistibly compelling, on time, on budget, and further our client’s business interests. That’s how we’re going to survive moving forward in the future.
As always, I’m interested in your comments.
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