REVIEW: The Avid Assistant Editor’s Handbook: The go-to-guide for assistant editors learning about Avid and their jobs.
I always find reviewing books about editing, particularly books about the technology we as editors use, difficult. They aren’t difficult to read, its just once you’ve read one book on the technology there isn’t anything new that you can learn from reading another book on the same technology.
This is where Kyra Coffie’s book The Avid Assistant Editor’s Handbook: The go-to-guide for assistant editors learning about Avid and their jobs comes in and alters my view. Coffie has found a unique niche, the assistants need for technology knowledge specific to their roles. Many Avid handbooks simply regurgitate the users manual that comes with the software. Coffie, is an experienced assistant editor in Los Angeles and host of the Avid Assistant Editor’s blog, a blog that focuses on helping educate the next generation of Assistants, is giving knowledge needed for the assistant to do their job well.
The information contained in her book goes beyond the usual manual and into actual tricks and techniques Assistants need to know. (*AHEM* *Cough* Assistants! Might want to purchase this). Here’s an example of her knowledge based on experience.
In Appendix 2: Deck Configuration, Coffie, describes configuring decks with your Avid system. But she goes beyond the manual into the editing room when she breaks down the potential reasons that Avid might not be seeing the deck and how to work around them, a small but time saving element, not referenced in the Avid manual.
Many a time, I’ve seen young first time assistants wasting time on small issues that Coffie helps the reader prepare for, those pesky last minute problems. It also includes elements that many MANY books ignore, for example preparing for online editing, which she wrote with the help of Josh Petok, an online editor and colorist.
Many schools (Note: Not all but many) these days have become hyper focused on the technology and in particular getting students up and running for their projects. This usually leads to issues such as students not knowing simple things like preparing and exporting for sound or setting up for online. Kyra’s book is extremely useful in this instance.
I always want to put my technology through the paces so I felt it was important to do the same with this book. I brought in a former student of mine, Eamonn O’Connell, who I was helping teach Avid to, and had him use this book while cutting a small project for AOTG.com. Eamonn was cutting a small video he and I shot about one of the founders of the Canadian Cinema Editors, Paul Day.
Here’s what Eamonn thought:
As a new editor it’s hard to come to terms with getting “up to speed” on the latest technology in NLE systems. When one feels moderately comfortable on one system more often than not, especially as a student, there’s a change. Floating between Final Cut Pro or X, Adobe Premiere and Avid has challenges.
As a frugal student I constantly assess the need for more books, when most resource material can be found online. I’ve long operated on the when-I-need-help-I’ll-Google-it mentality, allowing me to for-go shelling out several hundred dollars in text fees. That said, I still find my bookshelf playing host to those that I’ve felt are necessary and better than their virtual counterparts. Between my Calvin & Hobbes and Far Side Collection tomes rest three equally valuable film books. 1) The Filmmaker’s Handbook 2) How to Make It In Shorts and 3) The Avid Assistant Editor’s Handbook.
Let’s crack the cover on Kyra Coffie’s latest then, shall we?
Like many editing texts before Coffie’s, hers starts with the common “Introduction” and “Getting Started” chapters. But that’s where familiarity and comparisons can quickly end. Coffie expands and remains focused on the tasks of an Assistant Editor (AE). Nothing more, nothing less – making The Avid Assistant Editor’s Handbook (AAEH) a Welterweight Champion text; trim and lean, offering a knockout punch in the need to know purview of an AE.
AAEH offers several indexes and tables giving timely direction to the AE who’s sweating under the ticking clock. The pages are thick enough to thumb through effectively rather than fumble with, like the flimsy pages of the latest edition of Oxford’s Dictionary. Coffie’s advice is quick to the point but motherly too – careful to point out hazards like, “confirm” and “make sure” before you move on to the next steps of your work. Coffie then makes you look like you’re ready to take on the next feature film as Editor, not “Why is this guy in the union again?”
Coffie adds some flare to a library that’s predominantly text heavy – After all we’re editors, visual people! Full colour screenshots, cartoons and great examples help to solidify new learning, making sure that you can focus more on making cuts, rather than remembering a page number.
I must say there’s something about the tangible quality a good text like Coffie’s brings. There’s a tactility, and pleasure from highlighting, dog earing and penciling pages that make me feel accomplished even though I’m still just a student. Finally, there’s something to be said about keeping that second monitor free from a Google search window and using it more for what it was installed for in the first place – Bins!
As there’s a bit of room on my bookshelf still and seeing as how FCPro looks like the Titanic, I can only hope that Coffie will write a similar book for Adobe Premiere. Then like my Calvin & Hobbes and Far Side – my film resource collection will be complete.
More About Eamonn O’Connell:
Eamonn is an avid and emerging filmmaker from Toronto, Canada. Having expertise in digital communications Eamonn has consulted with a wide range of companies including the Documentary Organization of Canada and Point of View Magazine. Eamonn’s most recent film projects include the soon to be released, self-shot documentary “Solo“, detailing his time spent in North Africa during the 2011 Arab Spring and “Valleys” a Kickstarter project, documenting the experience of a young adult cancer survivor.
In the Fall of 2011 Eamonn received two Peter Gerretsen Film Award Nominations for Best Picture and Best Editing.
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE
Kyra is definitely on the ball when it comes to the future of books, Avid Assistant Editor’s Handbook is available in print on demand with a digital ebook coming soon! What is great about this is the flexibility this gives Kyra to change and update the book. When Avid changes or upgrades elements she can easily update the book, upload the files to the print on demand site and the digital version.
Kyra’s book is it is a living and breathing document, it is updatable through the print on demand and digital files but more importantly the book is an extension of her great blog: avidassteditor.com, with this blog she’s constantly posting updates for how to execute things in Avid, even better though, she now has an “Ask Kyra” section, if it isn’t in the book or on her blog you can submit the question!
If Kyra keeps this up she will be the Avid Guru that Avid needs!