Interview with a Video Editor 2

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Christina Sheffey gets JobShadowed about her career as a Video Editor.  You can find her at www.christinasheffey.com and on her Twitter feed in the sidebar of this interview.  

What do you do for a living?

I am a video editor and motion graphics artist, working primarily in Final Cut Pro and After Effects.

How would you describe what you do?

The great thing about being a video editor is that you can do so many things within the profession.  For example when I first graduated college I worked at an advertising / PR agency, then I went in to political advertising for a while and now I’m at a pop culture blog.  Once you have a certain skill set you can learn to stylize it for many different kinds of video.

What does your work entail?

Generally I make different kinds of stories from video assets that I’ve either shot or gathered.  Sometimes a producer provides a script; many times they do not. I have the flexibility to chose the music, effects, sound effects, specific shot and animation I want to use and from there I work to make a polished video, whether it be commercial, beauty review or something else.

What’s a typical work week like?

I’m currently working full-time for PopSugar.com, a pop culture, beauty and lifestyle blog.  I primarily work on breaking news stories, entertainment specials and beauty reviews.  I work there 40 hours a week (generally 9-5, but occasionally I’m expected to work weekends when we have special events to cover) and I also have a very successful freelance business that I work at in the evenings and on weekends.  Most nights I’m working for any one of my clients from about 6-9 pm.

How did you get started?

I went to college in Washington, D.C. and fell in love with politics and the 24 hour media circus.  I decided to major in Policial Communications which is the study of politics, media and public opinion and how they all interact and effect each other.  In my senior year I had the opportunity to take an editing course and realized I had found what I loved to do.  Since I discovered editing so late in my schooling, I am mostly self taught.  Luckily my professor was incredibly supportive and allowed me to work in the University’s edit lab whenever I wanted after I graduated to continue to learn and hone my skills.

What do you like about what you do?

I love having the ability to be creative every single day.  Choosing different shots, sound effects, building graphics really allows me to feel as if I’m doing something new almost every day.  I absolutely love editing and I feel incredibly lucky to be able to say that I love what I do.

What do you dislike?

As an editor you often aren’t at the top of the professional food chain.  You work long hours on projects you feel passionately about, only to have a director or producer want to make lots of changes.  It can be difficult to take their feedback professionally and not personally and to remember you are all working together to make the best piece possible.

How do you make money/or how are you compensated?

At my full-time job I make an annual salary, along with regular benefits.  In my freelance business I have a rate card that I set based on the client, type of project and complexity of project.

How much money do Video Editors make? 

Video editors make anywhere from about $28k a year to $100k a year.  This is of course based on experience, market and type of job.  Jobs in news and for broadcast TV typically do not pay as well as those in advertising (especially political) and film.

How much money did/do you make starting out as a Video Editors?

At my first job as an assistant editor in Washington, DC I made $38k a year.  As far as I know I think that is a pretty typical salary for someone just starting out.  I was given the opportunity to advance fairly quickly because I worked very hard.  I mentioned earlier that my current job is fairly 9-5; be forewarned that most video editing jobs are not.  You are expected to work until the project is done and your deadline is met, not until the clock hits a certain time.

What education, schooling, or skills are needed to become a video editor?

The great thing about video editing and motion graphics is that you really don’t need any specific formal education.  As I mentioned I only took one class in editing (in Final Cut Pro) before I got my first job.  I was lucky to work in an environment where my superiors wanted to train me and help me to teach myself — and so I didn’t need much education in this field at all.  There are a ton of free tutorials online that can help you to learn the basics and the rest you can definitely teach yourself.  It doesn’t happen overnight but it’s a lot of fun.

What is most challenging about what you do?

My biggest challenge in what I do is explaining the limitations of video to people who aren’t versed in the field.  There are a lot of limitations with file sizes, codecs, video sharing and copyrights that many laymen aren’t aware of and walking people through them can be difficult.

What is most rewarding?

I absolutely love making ads, and it’s incredibly rewarding to turn on the TV and see one of your ads playing and know that everyone in the nation can see it.  During the 2010 political cycle I had ads air during the World Series and Saturday Night Live (I still have them saved on my DVR!).

What advice would you offer someone considering this career?

Have a thick skin!  You’re always learning and everyone has something to teach.  Don’t take anything personally — if people see you’re working hard, they’re probably trying to help.

How much time off do you get/take?

I currently get 21 days of paid time off a year.

What is a common misconception people have about what you do?

I don’t know!  Fill me in 🙂

What are your goals/dreams for the future?

I would love to get back to creative commercial editing — seeing an ad I edited air during the Superbowl is my biggest dream.

What else would you like people to know about your job/career?

I think that’s it!  Hit me up with any further questions though!


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