This past week I was able to attend my first ever Editors Retreat in Savannah, Georgia. It was an unbelievably fun week of learning, networking, eating and drinking. This was an event I have wanted to attend for years but 2014 was the first time it has worked out. While not inexpensive, I made the decision to attend in January after a number of Editors Retreat alumni all said the same thing: the Retreat is a great creative reboot. I whole heartedly agree.
I chose to arrive for the event a day early and take advantage of the Warmup Sessions. For an added cost it was a full day of After Effects training from AE maestro Eran Stern. There was also a warmup session offered in Adobe Premiere Pro CC. One of the joys of the Editors Retreat is the unexpected and Eran gave all the attendees to his class a copy of After Effects for Video Editors. I look forward to going through this in more depth upon return home.
— Editor's Retreat (@EditorsRetreat) March 3, 2014
The event kicked off with a mix and mingle (and open bar) where attendees were able to make introductions, exchange business cards and chat each other up. Events like this are always a lot of fun as you’re able to say hello to familiar faces that you might only see at NAB and meet others you only know via some type of online communication. Everyone is there for the same reason so approaching a stranger is easy as they are all willing to talk and share war stories from the editing room. It’s always a treat when you make that connection between twitter username and in-real-life name as you’ve often come to know that person quite well through just the internet.
From my vantage point Editors Retreat is really broken up into three categories. There’s educational sessions from established software trainers who’s names you’ll recognize to peer presentations from attendees (presenting can knock $500 off the cost) that might be very different sessions than those you expect. Or an educational session might be from the keynote speaker of the event. This year it was Academy Award winning editor William Goldenberg discussing not just his Oscar winning cut of Argo but many films from his career, complete with excerpts from those films as well as Q and A. Software and hardware vendors are on-hand as well and we saw presentations this year from Adobe, Apple and G-Technology.
— Scott Simmons (@editblog) March 1, 2014
There’s mix and mingle events where you have plenty of time to talk to fellow attendees, discuss the craft of what we all do or trade stories and business cards. This might be the opening night cocktail reception, the annual poker tournament or a “field trip” dinner out of the hotel. One lunch saw the perimeter of our lunch meeting room lined with product vendors making it like a mini-NAB with food. A lot of these events also included prize giveaways.
— Hey Shumway (@cshumway1) February 28, 2014
The third category that I saw at Editors Retreat is the social time where you really could have one-on-one time with fellow editors and filmmakers. This was more unplanned time and could be coffee between sessions, before and after meals, after you’re knocked out of the annual poker tournament, or just in the hallways or sitting down next to someone at a session. I found everyone there to be more than inviting to share who they are, what they do and discuss both the craft and technology of post-production. Walking into a meal in a large room where you don’t know many people and don’t know where to sit can be an intimidating thing, especially if you’re shy. An event like the Editors Retreat makes that easy as everyone is welcoming and ready to share who they are and their experiences.
The events were both fun, educational or both
While poker is always fun, especially when you win a big prize if you’re the last player standing, there was a lot of creative fun stuff as well. A 15 second filmmaking challenged asked attendees to use whatever they had with them (which for many meant a cell phone) to tell a short story. You can’t have a group of editors without expecting them to have post-production tools around so some of those 15 films saw fast cutting, music with full adr and a lamp post launched like a rocket ship.
— Robbie Coblentz (@RCoblentz) February 27, 2014
Attendee cuts let everyone attending the event cut the exact same scene. These scene were then screen for everyone at the retreat. One of my favorite things was taking advantage of a critique session that provided written feedback from those in attendance on a short cut.
I submitted a recent music video as most all the feedback I ever get on music videos comes from the artist, label and management. I was a great opportunity and something I had never had before. Those notes pictured above are the written feedback.
— Scott Simmons (@editblog) February 28, 2014
A session called Gearheads let attendees highlight a particular piece of hardware, software or maybe just a service that they find they can’t live without. This was a place where making notes was a must as there was a ton of good stuff to spend your money on.
Here’s a few of my favorites:
KICK from Rift Labs is a small $179 LED light that is controlled by an iPhone app. It has a mounting screw and the color can be adjusted via the app. I don’t shoot much but I think I want this thing just to play with it.
Duplicate Detective is a $3 Mac App (Mac App store link) that looks for duplicate files and folders on your Mac and help you reclaim lost disk space. It’s one of those utilitarian tools that you don’t think about needing until someone mentions it and then you think … yea, I need that.
Expensify is an online tool for creating expense reports. That’s not the most fun thing in the world so things like mobile apps help makes that easier and possibly more fun. This one is on my to try list.
Technology and product notes
While the Editors Retreat isn’t focused primarily on technology and product demos there are quite a few and the edit geek in all of us was happy to see and talk some tech.
— SpectraCal (@SpectraCal) February 20, 2014
G-Technology showed the Thunderbolt equipped G-DRIVE PRO. This was spinning drive technology at SSD drive speeds with sustained transfer rates up to 480 MB per second. And that comes in an up to 4 TB package that goes for around $850. There isn’t some magical components to this G-DRIVE PRO just some good engineering that puts four small laptop drives RAID-ed into a case that isn’t much bigger than the older G-Drives. This thing was fast.
— Scott Simmons (@editblog) March 1, 2014
If you aren’t familiar with Rampant Design Tools and their vast library of “drag, drop and go” effects for video and design then you should be. What Rampant was showing at the Editors Retreat was a 4K display connected to a new Mac Pro running their new 5K design elements. This was some gorgeous looking stuff that came from their new Rampant Cinematic Series. There’s a whole range of elements like fire, smoke, snow, light overlays and many more. Their beyond HD file sizes also come on the now famous, all encompassing, one price buys all hard drive collections as well. Their Extreme drive was a top pick for my 2013 Christmas Gifts for Editors.
I spent a good bit of time talking to the husband and wife team behind Rampant Design Tools and was surprised to learn that they are just a two person operation working out of Florida. Husband Sean Mullen is a visual effects veteran and his experience shows in the quality of the elements. While I’m sure they might have to hire some freelance help when production time rolls around it’s just the two of them. I don’t think they are getting filthy rich competing in what is a crowded market of for purchase visual effects elements so I hope this little bit of trivia about the faces behind the products will make someone think twice before they try to illegally search the internet for this stuff or send their money to a faceless corporation that may or may not have the best business practices. They travel to these events and trade shows on their own dime so it can’t be cheap for a small team to properly promote their products among the noise of the internet. It’s often guerrilla marketing that works best and in the interest of full disclaimer … they brought me a Rampant t-shirt but only after I kept pestering the for one via twitter.
The folks at Flanders are really becoming a staple at events like the Editors Retreat. They are always there with monitors on display and the 2014 Editors Retreat was no different. They were showing one of their new OLED monitors and it was gorgeous. While the price wasn’t total sticker shock like OLEDs used to be if it was out of an attendee’s pocketbook range some of their other monitors weren’t. I heard several comments from editors that they didn’t realize how affordable Flanders’ monitors are when compared to some of their competitors.
— Andrew Clody (@AClody) February 27, 2014
But the real amazing thing was that Flanders gave away one of those OLEDs as a prize. The company has been amazing in recent years as they have given away a number of monitors at similar events including several that I have attended (sadly I haven’t won one … yet). I hope this doesn’t jinx their enthusiastic participation at events like this but you just don’t see TV Logic or Dolby (or even Sony or Panasonic) supporting these types of events with such enthusiasm. I for one appreciation that kind of support. I hope editors are supporting them with their dollars.
Adobe and Apple
Both Adobe and Apple were there to present workflow sessions and demos to the group. Product managers for both Adobe Premiere Pro CC and Prelude where there for Adobe. Apple saw the familiar FCPX face of Steve Martin presenting but Apple had an official presence there as well ready and willing to chat with Editors Retreat attendees. Apple also provided all conference goers with a free copy of FCPX, Motion and Compressor. If they have a Mac around I can guarantee there’s going to be some people trying out FCPX who wouldn’t have tired it before.
— FutureMediaConcepts (@FMCTraining) February 28, 2014
Apple also had a new Mac Pro being used for their demos sessions and there were always people crowded around it before and after their sessions. I think an event like the Editors Retreat is straight in the target area of the Mac Pro. I think Apple could have had a little Mac Pro store set up in the corner and have sold a few units right off the ballroom floor. Hopefully they can get them shipping sooner as availability is (as of this writing) April.
I liked this slide that was presented by Adobe:
— Scott Simmons (@editblog) February 27, 2014
It really illustrates the Adobe suite way of thinking with different software products providing different parts of the workflow. I hadn’t seen Adobe Premiere Pro presented quite this way before but it really is the hub of a Creative Cloud workflow. It goes to show that PPro is more important to Adobe than ever before.
Overall a great event.
I haven’t talked to anyone before, during or after the event that isn’t happy with their investment to attend Editors Retreat. It really is an investment as the cost isn’t always easy and many of us have to really work it into our budget (if a company isn’t paying for it that is). But I think what can’t be overlooked is the thing that pushed me over the edge in attending this year. It was from multiple people that I heard the term creative reboot.
— Scott Simmons (@editblog) March 2, 2014
It’s easy to get into a rut as a professional editor. Day in, day out, doing the same thing (even when on different and exciting projects) can become monotonous for even the most enthusiastic editor (William Goldenberg spent something like 18 months on The Sorcerer’s Apprentice!) so time away from the suite is crucial. While a straight-up vacation is always a good answer the Editors Retreat is a reboot in a different kind of way: it keeps you focused on the career at hand while providing a real learning and networking opportunity. I look forward to attending again in the future.