Press pause

I work way too much. I've only been at CreativeLive for a few months, but from the very beginning, it has required long hours. I knew that this job was going to require many nights and weekends to get the work done each week. This is easily one of the most demanding jobs that I've ever had, but it is one that truly has been an adventure day in and day out. 

However, at some point, we need to take a step back and take a break. One of the biggest things that I have learned in the short time that I have been working at CreativeLive is that I am not a machine and can't work nonstop. At some point, my work, my health and the relationships I have will suffer. In some cases, you may find yourself burnt out and resenting the thing that made you creative in the first place. I've been here, it sucks and I wish it on no one. 

A few months back I was invited to go on a Dual Bachelor/Bachelorette trip for my friends who are getting married. It seemed like a great chance to escape from the city and from work only if it were for a few days. It seemed like a fantastic opportunity to take a step away from work and go on an adventure.

In retrospect, it was exactly what I needed. It is far to easy to find ourselves overwhelmed by the things that we encounter in our everyday life. Each day can feel like the Bill Murray movie Groundhog's Day where we are just going through the motions and not taking a step back and really question what it is that we want out of this life.

I don't have an answer to what I want out of my life. I have ideas but things are always changing. For me, going out to the coast gave me the space needed to think about the things that I want to accomplish in the next few months.

In conclusion, give yourself the permission to step away from your work. It is okay to take a step back and question what you are doing with your work and what you hope to accomplish. I promise that you will be ready to kick ass and take names when you return to work.

Enjoy your weekend.

-RJL

Celebrating Your Weirdness with Thomas Middleditch

I really don't talk about my job very often. A little over 3 months ago I packed everything into my Subaru and made the move back to Seattle not knowing what I got myself into. I can say it has been a wild ride. I can't believe how much things have changed. Six months ago I was working as a Production Assistant. Today I am an editor cutting a Youtube show. The moral of the story is if you work hard and follow to your intuition you can achieve awesome things in this life.

Here is a recent thing I cut featuring Thomas Middleditch of Silicon Valley. I hope you enjoy it and I would love to hear your thoughts!

-RJL

The Market

Before I started shooting motion I was shooting stills. I love the ability to create an image that moved people in new and unexpected ways. Somewhere along the way, I discovered video and the power that it had to engage with people. However, the amount of work to bring a film to life can be overwhelming. I have spent countless hours sitting in front of my computer trying to edit different films. At many times I have also found myself burnt out and exhausted. As an artist, I know that I have tortured myself to bring work to life. This is not healthy.

In a recent episode of Chase Jarvis Live, Todd Henry talked about the idea that we need to have secret projects that we are only doing for ourselves. The significance of these projects is that it gives us a creative outlet that is not associated with a paycheck. These projects give us space and freedom to explore, try new things and find inspiration. When we start doing things for money, we no longer have control. A good portion of the power is given to the client and it can become tough to balance artistic values while keeping them happy. Making things for yourself removes all of this.

Recently I have begun the shoot stills again. I have really enjoyed using it as an exercise to continue to train my eye and explore my own creativity in the process. I don't know if I will ever be a 'professional photographer', but I am enjoying the act of picking up my camera trying to make an image that speaks to me first. 

Here are a few images I got last few weeks. I hope you like them.

-RJL

Why Did You Start?

During the summer of 2012, I decided to make a short documentary about my hometown fire department instead of taking an internship at an ad agency like many of my peers. I was excited to pick up my camera and share my perspective of the world that we live in. However, I soon found it more challenging than I expected.

I soon found myself super frustrated with the process of bringing this film to life. I had about 16 hours of footage that I needed to cut down into something that people would find entertaining and engaging. It took me weeks to edit this film and bring it to life. It wasn't long before I found myself cynical and frustrated with the process.

A few months had gone by and I was putting the finishing touches on the film and I found myself burned out and exhausted. I remember flying back to Richmond to finish my masters degree feeling extremely discouraged. This was something that I used to love and now I didn't want anything to do with it.

This has been something that I've had to deal with. Over the last several years I have had to find ways to motivate myself to pick up my camera and sit down in front of Adobe Premiere or After Effects and ultimately bring something to life. 

It has not been easy. There were many times where I would much rather be doing something else instead of shooting or editing. I have found that there were many times where just the thought of making a film was crippling. I would try and do anything to avoid shooting and editing. As time passed, this feeling only got worse and it felt like I couldn't escape this feeling even though my entire career was predicated on making things.

Burnout is a very real thing and it doesn't get the attention it deserves. I have found it is incredibly toxic and incredibly dangerous for any creative person. It is far too easy to go from loving what you do to resenting it. I also find it super discouraging to see a creative person lose that excitement that helped them get where they are today. The most disheartening thing, in my opinion, is the have the desire to make stuff but feeling burned out and unmotivated. Seeing someone's creative voice be crushed is painful to watch. It sucks even more when it is your own creative voice.

It may seem like I'm rambling right now so let me just get to the point. If you are a creative person why did you start making stuff? What made you pick up a paintbrush or start playing the guitar. Why were you drawn to these things when you started? I think this is extremely important to think about, especially when things get hard.  At some point, our creative endeavors and aspirations go from just a hobby and develop into something much more important. It is absolutely critical that we remember why we got into the game and find time to reflect on this because if the creative spark goes out it can be pretty hard to get it started again.

-RJL

A small animation I made back in 2015 for my friend Danny Bullis. Go listen to his music on Soundcloud and Spotify

Living a creative life is a choice. It is something that requires discipline and is something that requires that you are comfortable with your own doubt. It is perfectly ok to question things at times. Many of the best creatives have been in this position. It is a messy process, but it's the only way that we can ultimately share our perspective and thoughts with people. 

Take a moment to make something for yourself. It doesn't have to anything crazy. It doesn't have to be anything revolutionary or world changing. It's the process of just making work for ourselves that can restart the fire and remind us why we ultimately started making stuff in the beginning.

Start off 2018 by giving yourself the permission to be creative and dream again. I will promise you will be surprised where it takes you.
 

New Years Resolution - Start Here

This is my first edit that I completed at CreativeLive. I'm really happy how it came together and how I was able to create a piece of work that people will hopefully find engaging and motivate them to make 2018 count. This is only the beginning. I'm looking forward to the other projects that I will be involved with. 

More to come soon.

Should I stay or should I go?

 Thank you for the memories Los Angeles. It has been an adventure, but it is time to do bigger and better things. You will always have a special place in my heart. I'm looking forward to visiting soon.

Thank you for the memories Los Angeles. It has been an adventure, but it is time to do bigger and better things. You will always have a special place in my heart. I'm looking forward to visiting soon.

Over the last two days I've made the move from Los Angeles to Seattle. Needless to say, I had a lot of time to think about my experience in Los Angeles and why it was one of the best decisions I've made so far in my career. 

Just over two years ago I was living in Seattle and working in commercial production. At the time I believed that there was a way to make a living and a career in the city I love. However, as time passed and I began to freelance my perspective began to change.

Now let me just state for the record that it is possible to make a career working in production in Seattle. I know many people who are currently doing it now including some of my biggest creative influences. I have never held the belief that good work is only restricted to places like New York and Los Angeles. If you have a great idea it can be made anywhere. All it comes down to is the people and how it is executed.

However, as I continued to work in Seattle I grew tired and frustrated with not being able to achieve the things that I wanted to do professionally. I was trying to network and create opportunities to grow my career. But after two years of little progress and limited opportunities I felt like I either had to do something different professionally or make the move to Los Angeles.

I agonized about the idea of moving to LA during the entire 2015 summer. I was terrified about taking the risk and ultimately putting myself in a position that was far outside of my comfort zone. I was afraid what my friends, family and peers would think of my decision. But most importantly, I was afraid of starting over. The thought of failure was overwhelming. However, at the end of the day I knew that if I didn't take the leap of faith and chase my dreams I would wake up one day and regretting it.

In retrospect, I feel that moving to LA was probably one of the best decisions that I could've made. I'm confident that I could've been successful without moving to LA. I probably could've found a way to grow my career without leaving the Pacific Northwest. However, I feel like making the move would give me the opportunity to work on different projects and gain experience that I would not find in Seattle.

Over the course of two years of living and working in LA I feel like I have grown to be a better media professional. I had the privilege to work on a variety of different shoots and work at some major post-production companies. But I feel like the most beneficial thing about my experience in LA was being surrounded by like minded individuals.

In the two years that I spent in LA this was probably the biggest lesson that I learned. It's never been easier to make content that engages with people in new and unexpected ways. It's easy to make great work with very limited equipment and share it online. However, the biggest thing that I've come to learn is that filmmaking is really a team effort. It takes a village of committed individuals to bring great work to life that people love. I feel that the people I've worked with have taught me so much about how to be a professional and make work that matters. It was really the moments in between where I learned the most about the business and how to be successful in my career.

In conclusion, I feel like moving to LA was one of the best things I could've done for my career. If I am ever approached by a college student asking if moving to LA is the right decision I would tell them that moving to LA will put them in a better position if they ever decide to move back to the PNW. Working in production can by grueling. The hours are long and the pay sucks. But if they are ok with these things (at least initially) they would benefit from it.

Who knows, maybe you will be one of the lucky ones who finds their name in lights. But one thing is for certain, it won't happen if you don't try.

Personally, I think you should go for it.

Eizo - Photo Journey: Moab

A couple of months ago photographer Andrei Duman approached me about editing a short film for Eizo Monitors. A few weeks earlier he went out to Moab National Park with cinematographers Mark Giles and Austin Droguet to capture the epic landscapes. The goal was to produce a short film showcasing Andrei and why he only uses Eizo Monitors while editing photos. I was thrilled at the opportunity to work with Andrei and the team to bring this film to life.

The biggest challenge of this film was finding the tone. When I received the media I didn't know where exactly I should start. Normally, I begin by editing an interview or voiceover to create the structure for the film. By doing this it helps me begin to think about the shots required to tell the story and how I might be able to shape it. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case so I had to think differently about how I was going to bring this project to life.

One of the first things that I started to do was try and figure out the music that would elevate the visuals that were shot. I knew that the song would also help shape the pacing of the edit and help me find the tone before receiving the voiceover at a later date. The biggest challenge with this was receiving multiple notes on what works best. There were a lot of different opinions on the rhythm and pacing of the edit and what was working best. However, after several late-night phone calls and edit sessions, we found something that really showcased Andrei's experience photographing Moab and why he uses Eizo Monitors.

Like all projects, this was a learning experience. I learned a lot about receiving notes from multiple people and how to work with them. As an editor, one of the biggest challenges of the job is trying to determine which notes should be listened to and which ones should be ignored at the moment. Everyone wants to have their say on a project. However, at the end of the day, it is the responsibility of the editor to determine which notes ultimately make the piece better. This is something that I am still learning and I think it is something that I am going to be learning throughout my career. As creative professionals, we spend a lot of time talking about the importance of the hard skills that anyone can learn. We don't spend enough time talking about the soft skills that are required to work with others and make great work. What I've been learning lately is it is critical that we develop theses skills just as much as the ability to use a camera or control an edit session.

I want to conclude this blog post by thanking Andrei Duman for giving me the opportunity to work on this project and bring it to life. I appreciated your thoughts and guidance in the direction. I also want to thank Mark Giles and Austin Droguet. Your encouragement through the editorial process really helped me understand your thoughts and vision for the film and how we could make something awesome. (Also, the footage was amazing! Some of the best looking images I have had a privilege of editing.)

Finally, to any aspiring editors, find projects like this one where you can get involved. The only way to get better at editing is to do the work. It's facing deadlines and creative challenges that you don't think you can overcome. However, it is the process of working past this restrictions that will truly make you great at your craft.

TECH TUESDAY: 2018 Adobe Premiere Updates

I have been a long time Adobe user. I absolutely love their products because they give me the ability to bring ideas to life and create work that connects with people. Adobe has recently announced the latest update to Premiere and there is a lot of features that I saw that I am excited about.

One of the big ones that stood out for me is the ability to have multiple projects open at the same time. In previous versions of Premiere you could only have one project open at a time. I am extremely excited about this update because it allows me to have multiple projects open at the same time and keep working instead of having to stop working on a project to focus on something else. It also reminds me of using Final Cut Pro 7 back in the day. When I was working on FCP it had the same capabilities. It is nice to finally see this within Adobe Premiere. 

The other major update that I am extremely excited about is the update is the new collaboration tools within Adobe Premiere. In large postproduction facilities it is necessary to have a lot of people working on a project at any given time. In prior versions of Premiere it was hard for Assistants and Editors to be sharing work and updates on projects. In many circumstances postproduction facilities were using Avid because of the ability to have multiple people working on a project. I am extremely excited about this update, because it shows that Adobe is listening to the concerns of postproduction professions. It seems like they are trying to create a product that will solve problems for many editors and postproduction professionals. 

In conclusion, from what I've seen Adobe is doing a great job of creating tools that address both the individual and professional markets. I am extremely excited to see where they take things, but I am more excited to see what people do with these products. 

TECH TUESDAY: My Gear Kit

It has been a moment since I made one of these. However, I feel it is important to show that you don't need the fanciest of cameras and gear to make films and photos that connect with people. Fancy gear is nice to have but it is not necessary. 

The biggest thing I've learned making films is it is really a mental exercise over everything. Gear just makes things easier and opens creative doors. But if you don't know how to tell a story it isn't going to help you much.

RENDER TIME 14: Ryan Dowling

Ryan Dowling v2.jpg

On this episode of Render Time I connected with VML Senior Art Director, Ryan Dowling. Ryan and I met back in 2013 when we were both attending the VCU Brandcenter. After graduating from the Brandcenter Ryan was an Art Director at Crispin Porter + Bogusky where he created work for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Hotels.com, Aspen Dental and others.

It was also great to hear Ryan's perspective on the work that he has been involved with and how technology will continue to influence things. I also really enjoyed hearing his opinions on where commercial production is headed and how it is impacting agencies like VML. 

You can listen to Render Time here:
http://apple.co/2f2p7U5

Learn more about Ryan here:
http://ryandowling.com/

Learn more about VML here:
https://www.vml.com/

RENDER TIME 13: Alex Frecon

In this episode of Render Time I connect with copywriter Alex Frecon. During our conversation, Alex discusses how he got his start at working at Fallon in Minneapolis. Fallon is behind some of the biggest spots in the world including EDS Cat Herders, BMW Films and Holiday Inn Express.

Alex also discusses his side projects including rapping, producing music videos and traveling to North Korea to play the mens national team in hockey and how these projects have helped shaped his voice as a creative.

You can listen to my conversation with Alex here.

Links:
AlexFrecon.com
Alex's trip to North Korea
Music
Music Videos

You can also learn more about Fallon here.

RENDER TIME 12: Matt Feury

In this week's episode of Render Time I talk with Matt Feury about the release of Avid Media Composer First. For more than 30 years Avid Media Composer has been the industry standard for edit systems. We discuss why editors should consider choosing Avid and why it still remains the go to edit system for many of the most accomplished editors and post-production professionals in Hollywood and around the world. Matt also briefly talks about Pro Tools First and how it provides aspiring musicians, sound engineers and audio mixers a great way to start to learn Pro Tools.

Matt also offers a ton of great advice for those who are pursuing a career in Film and Television post-production and editorial on how they can get their career off the ground quickly.

Learn more about Avid Media Composer First here:
http://www.avid.com/media-composer-first

Learn more about Avid Pro Tools First here:
http://www.avid.com/pro-tools-first

Follow Matt Feury on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/MattFeury

RENDER TIME 11: Allison Sobolewski

In the latest episode of Render Time I connected with Allison from To The Wolves. Alison and I met when we were both studying Art Direction at the VCU Brandcenter. Since graduating she has worked at some of the biggest agencies in the world including Walrus, Y&R and DDB. She has recently left agency life to focus on her own creative endeavors with To The Wolves.

During our conversation we discussed what motivated her to leave her 9 to 5 and start To The Wolves. We also discussed the challenges that she and her husband have faced along the way.

You can listen to Render Time here.

You can learn more about To The Wolves here:
Tothewolves.co
Instagram.com/tothewolves.co/

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