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Taking Care of Business
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Old February 17th, 2005, 09:34 PM   #1
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Final Cut tutoring

Lately, I've been meeting more and more people interested in video editing, specifically Final Cut Pro/Express. Most are the type that believe the entire application can be mastered in one sitting, and quickly lose interest as soon as they realize that's nowhere near the case. However, a few have actually shown genuine interest in learning the system and even offered to pay for lessons on a regular basis. Considering how much I already enjoy tutoring, this turns out to be a sweet deal. But first, I could use some advice... especially in the money department.

Does anyone have ideas or experience that you wouldn't mind sharing? If so, you're awesome, and I thank you.
Nicholi Brossia
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Old February 17th, 2005, 11:48 PM   #2
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I didn't get a clear impression of your question. Are you asking what to charge for training or what to teach?

I teach FCP to professionals on occasion and actually almost went to work for Apple teaching it. In my experience a bright editor with a decent grasp on the process can usually get the hang of it within a few sessions. The best way I have found is to have someone with a real project that needs to be done and do it with them. Let them control everything and resist the urge to take command of the keyboard as much as possible. Start at the beginning with the setup and explain the differences and how to change them. Review their current file management system and make suggestions if needed. Move on to the log and capture and show them where everything is going on their system. Once you get into the editing it's just a matter of tools and shortcuts. Give them a once over where everything is and how it works and give them control. If they're experienced they already have a style and will already know what they want to achieve. Really the only thing to do here is guide them because they won't necessarily know where or how things work, only what they WANT. This is the easy part because we are creatures of habit and chances are they need the same tools over and over again. By letting them work through the problems themselves (always providing guidance when they need it but ONLY when they need it) they will learn very quickly and become more productive. I will show how the interface is laid out and what goes where. I'll show the audio and video tracks and how to change them. It's best to get them productive as quickly as possible so they can start working and gaining confidence. They can experiment on the slower days as they progress (and you're not there). I can usually get someone up and running within a few hours depending on their level of acceptance. Depending on the complexity and length of the project they are working on I will get them in a comfortable place and leave for the day (this is usually while they are doing some rough cuts or cuts only editing. The next day will be spent reviewing (I have them explain everything they can from the previous session and look at what they did while I was gone) then start working on fine tuning, trimming and some transitions. Depending, again on the comfort level and complexity, I'll go into some keyframing and special filters and start talking about audio (because by now they're looking at timing it) but this could be on another day.
I don't spend any more time at the office than is necessary because 1. I don't want to be a crutch and 2. I don't want them to have to pay me for just sitting around (unless they want to, some do). I always leave my cell phone number and I answer it 24/7. I have had clients call me down for an emergency at 11:30pm and I didn't get out of there until 9am. I've also had clients call me at 3am with a question that I could handle over the phone within 10-20 minutes.
If they are completely new to MacOS I will examine the entire system and clean it up and make sure it is safe and stable then review it with them. This usually take a little longer and effects what I charge at times. If it's a complete system that needs to be set up and all the equipment arranged and hooked up, it's definitely going to take longer and I will walk them through it.
I don't know what your level of experience is with Mac or FCP but keep in mind, they will probably want some knowledge of PEAK, Soundtrack, Compressor and maybe even Motion (my weakness at this point only because I haven't used it much yet). I have even had to go into After Effects and Cleaner at times but that's a whole other deal, and Shake, if they have to ask, I recommend taking a formal training series because it's VERY different than they are probably used to.
For an inservice like this I usually charge between $75-$150 per hour and up. I have a day rate, a travel rate and a group rate but it varies depending on what the client needs.
My biggest thing is making the client feel confident. Confident that they can figure it out and confident in the knowledge that if they can't I am just a phone call away any time they need me. This is really important because I think a lot of us are night owls and it makes them very happy to know that under the pressure of an unreasonable deadline, while they are working ALL night long, if they have a problem, they can call me and get help and if they're really screwed, I'll come over (I've even gotten on a plane to go help a client for 4 days).
I don't use FCExpress or iMovie so I wouldn't really know about those but the best thing you can do is pick up a few PeachPit Press Visual QuickStart Guides and study them. You should also read all of the books supplied with FCP. It will really piss me off if Apple stops supplying those in favor of a PDF version. I tell all of my students to read them at least twice, they're the best manuals I've ever seen.
Sorry if this wasn't what you were looking for, I kinda ran off on a tear there huh?! Hope it helped a little.

Sorry, I decided to ad this.
You are inferring that you would be teaching beginners. This could be painfully slow. Not only do they need to learn the software but they also need to grasp the concepts of editing. If it's a casual weekly class like an "Art Lesson", I don't think $35-$50/hr is unreasonable by any means. You could spend that easily on art or music lessons and have even less of a chance at getting a job with those skills.
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Old February 18th, 2005, 09:54 PM   #3
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Wow... now that's a reply :)

You've pretty much hit all the major thoughts that I've had about getting this all set up. I've sat down with a few different friends on multiple occasions to help them with Final Cut as well as other aspects of the production process. Just like you mentioned in your post, I didn't teach them so much as helped them gain confidence. Fortunately, everyone that I've worked with thus far has had a firm foundation in video production and understood the process. I just tagged along to help them feel more comfortable and realize that they can get their hands dirty without causing the world to explode. I see possible "tutoring" as a next step, based on this experience so far.

You are exactly right about dealing strictly with beginners. I am by no means an expert and don't want to get in too far over my head yet, which limits me to just the basics by default. And that's probably a good thing for now.

If it can be done, I would like to focus everything into "nights and weekends" sessions. When I used to tutor algebra students, we would meet from 6:30 - 8:30 on Mondays and Thurdays, or something like that. That's how I see this going down. Much like your music lesson example.

I agree 100% that it is best to work toward completing a real project. Real goals create real twists that require real solutions, which is the best way to learn. Otherwise it will just be a lot of, "Ummm... how do you do this?" My thoughts are that we will meet at their place, use their equipment, and complete their project. The student will do all of the work, but I will be there throughout the project as a support system.

You've listed three main levels of the same idea.
1) professional, on-call technical assistance
2) an introductory support system that helps point an already experienced individual in the right direction
3) a bottom up, regularly scheduled lessons, approach to starting a dedicated beginner from scratch

My goal is to sustain my daily 8-5 job while providing scheduled tutoring on nights and weekends. Ideally, I will be able to keep these lessons simple and stay on levels #2 and #3 (of course, the phone calls are going to sneak in here and there, but that's expected). As a client grows out of the lessons, he/she will move on, thus opening time for others. My proposed clients will be students and beginning users (growing out of iMovie) planning to pursue editing a little more in depth. So, most likely, the professional deadlines won't be quite as prevalent... I hope.

I have worked out an agreement with a local Apple retailer to teach occasional Saturday classes to aspiring editors (iMovie, iDVD, Final Cut Express). Most of the attendants will be satisfied with a 2 hour crash course and won't have enough interest to continue with paid lessons. Occasionally, someone will want to continue, and we'll schedule further lessons (seperate from the store) accordingly. I also know a few college students that might be willing to trade a pizza-a-week for an hour or two's guidance. Sounds like those two make for a pretty good start.

Thanks very much for the reply. Although your experience is certainly more professional than mine will be, you've brought up a lot of very helpful points. If everything goes well, lessons should start in a month or so. In the meantime, I have some planning to do :).

Thanks again.
Nicholi Brossia
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