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Thread: Planning for Retirement

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Huntington, West Virginia USA

    Default Planning for Retirement

    I have not been on the forum much lately, but Lord willing on May 28, 2016 I will retire from the U.S. Senior Service and leave the deserts of the Middle East to settle back to our family home in the scenic climes of the West Virginia Appalachian foothills. And at that point I'm planning to pursue my hobby of filmmaking on a full-time basis. I can finally give up my day job!

    Although I used to work in commercial radio and television production in the USA over three decades ago, it was not until about 2005, when inexpensive video cameras and non-linear computer-based editing came along, that I plunged into learning the 'art' of filmmaking. It's a good thing I really didn't know much about the movie-making industry when I started, otherwise I probably would not have decided to go this path. After 11 years I cannot say that I'm an expert by any means, but what I have learned is a deep appreciation for the skills and talents of the folks who make a living in that industry. There are just so many aspects and specialty fields involved in making movies that the amateur independent filmmaker of today must be a jack of all trades and have the humility to know that they will be lucky to master only about one. As for me, I gravitated towards editing and post production because I like it, and because Kuwait is not conducive to outdoor location shooting because of the heat, dust, and the growing paranoia people have when they see a strange person filming in public places. Consequently, I've been doing most of my work in the editing system, using what footage I could make or scrounge from free sources.

    I started my filmmaking journey in Munich, Germany using Sony Vegas as my comfortable editing suite of choice, and I have used it almost faithfully for the past decade while stationed here in Kuwait; upgrading to new versions as they came out, Then, a little over a year ago, I came to the realism that Sony Vegas Pro could no longer do the kind of VFX effects that I wanted to produce. I dabbled a bit in Hitfilm, but I did not like the 'looks' of their effects and it did not seem to be very intuitive. Fortunately, at about the same time, free versions of the legacy Hollywood-grade node editing VFX and color correction programs (Fusion and Davinci, respectively) began leading me into a new direction. Then just last year, while negotiating to work after retirement at a WV production firm, I had to make a firm decision on which of the major and expensive software editing systems I should invest my future time and effort into learning. I had been stalling on having to make that choice between Avid, Final cut, or Premiere Pro.

    In the end I have chosen Premiere Pro, because that is what the owner of the firm uses where I hope to do freelance work for when I retire to West Virginia. Also, Premiere Pro has a whole suite of production tools that are available on a yearly lease basis through Adobe's Creative Cloud services, which is certainly MUCH cheaper than outright buying a collection new stand-alone software systems for different editing requirements.

    So, upon returning to Kuwait after my Thanksgiving vacation and two rounds of cataract surgery to get my eyes fixed, I changed over to Premiere Pro to complete an ongoing project I am doing here in Kuwait. This gives me a hands-on opportunity to learn the basics of this new editor before I retire. So far, I'm pleased with the Adobe CC suite, though I am still a long way from mastering all these new tools. But in the process, I have also learned something I was not expecting, that even though Sony Vegas Pro may no longer cut it as a primary editing system, it is still useful for rendering out .EXR and .JPG frame-by-frame scene segments for use in Davinci and Fusion. And Davinci, Fusion, and HitFilm can produce renders of non-compressed video that works very well in Premiere Pro. So I have learned a VERY valuable lesson in the process. That is, don't just blindly toss out your editing system for another with more bells and whistles. Knowing how to use several different editing software systems is like having a full quiver of arrows, because if you know the advantages that each one can offer (and some are better than others for doing certain things), they can make your editing work-flow even more enjoyable and allow you to get production results that cannot be accomplished if you stick to just what you are comfortable using. Be bold, and plunge into the unfamiliar. It is really worth it in the long run.

    I must also say that being a member of these forums has been an educational fellowship. I can't name all the people who have looked at my work over the past decade, and I owe much thanks to those who have offered constructive criticism and technical guidance when I needed it. I'm even thankful to some who were down right cruel in their responses, as it helped me grow a thicker skin and motivated me to improve and critique myself using someone else's perspective.

    To all of you, thank you so much.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Surrey, UK
    Blog Entries


    Digger, may I be the first on this forum to congratulate you on your forthcoming retirement and wish you every success along your new path.

    Your comments are timely for me as I am about to replace my PC and have seriously considered dropping Vegas (and possibly HitFilm), as there is much speculation that it is "end of life" and especially after being "wowed" by my playing around with Resolve. However, call me a coward, but the number of things I cannot see my productivity being so high with anything else (OK I haven't really considered Premiere as I've never got on with the Adobe interface). I even considered going to Apple (those 27" 5K machines are just so damn sexy).
    So I'd decided to stick with Vegas and specced my new baby accordingly (fundamentally using AMD R9 390 rather than nVidia).

    But now you make me doubt my decision again and wonder whether it's just familiarity.

    Your sign off seems pretty final. i hope that you will continue to frequent this forum - indeed I hope you will find yet more time to visit in your new carreer.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Huntington, West Virginia USA


    Quote Originally Posted by TimStannard View Post
    Your sign off seems pretty final. i hope that you will continue to frequent this forum - indeed I hope you will find yet more time to visit in your new career.
    I'm sorry I left the impression that the post was final. On the Contrary, I plan to be like a bad penny and keep turning up now and then. In fact, after retirement I plan to become even more active on this forum.

    I do understand your feeling about the safety of familiarity and reluctance to change. Been there, done that. It took the fact of my looming mandatory retirement and the prospect of post-retirement employment with a Huntington, West Virginia production company to push me out of my comfort zone and to plunge into Premiere Pro. Yes, at first the interface was intimidating and I had to keep referring to 'how to' tutorials, especially when I got stuck on something, but those were only teething pains. Now, I have absolutely fallen in love with that editing system and each day I'm becoming more confident, sinking my teeth into bold new ways of doing things.

    One of the features of Premiere Pro that really sold me was the built-in lens distortion effects. I use an older DJI Phantom 2+ camera drone for aerial photography, as well as for close to the ground dolly and crane shots on outdoors locations. These DJI cameras, like the Go Pro, has fish-eye effect lenses. Before I started using Premier Pro, I had to superimpose a grid over the video in the Sony Vegas editor and hand-correct the footage using the manual video distortion feature. But in Premiere Pro, all I have to do is plug-in the custom effect for the type of camera used (depending on the type of drone and film resolution setting), and I get an immediate and automatic perfect correction of the fish-eye effect right on the active timeline.

    The other thing that sold me was the fact that the Adobe CC subscription services (I'm leasing it on a yearly basis for just under $500), gives me full access to ALL Adobe video and photography editing software, as well as webpage creativity products. I simply download which ones I need to use to my computer (I'm currently using about 7 different products). And when Adobe upgrades any of their products, the upgrades are immediately available to download and use, at no additional cost. That certainly is a bargain, as just buying base-line or upgrades to some stand-alone editing products costs at least that much by themselves. Adobe CC is by far a more cost effective way of dealing with version creep.

    OK, I got a little carried away there, but I am very happy that I forced myself to face my fears and discover that an old dog like me can be taught new tricks.

  4. #4


    Congrats! Looking forward to see the results of your "new job"

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