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Back to school

September 18, 2013

The students stare back at me blankly. I wonder if they are paying attention.

“Who knows the difference between overwrite and splice in?”

A few of them nod. One yawns long and large but then surprisingly raises his hand and answers the question. I guess you can’t blame them; it is a three-hour class on a Monday night.

It wasn’t too long ago that the tables were turned and I was a student sitting far back in the computer lab in an NYU editing class. I’m sure there were times I yawned, probably much worse.

On the way to the bathroom during a break I imagine a bizarre comedy movie twist where in the mirror I see my college self staring back at me. A quirky janitor would then offer me a choice between the present and the past. Which would I choose?

I’m teaching an Intermediate Edit Workshop; it’s a step up from the class I taught two semesters ago, which was an overview of the entire post-production process. Now I am actually teaching editing with 10 students, who are each cutting a short film in my class.

The slight hitch is that the class is also about the Avid editing software system. I edit on Final Cut Pro. These two are very similar (but also very different). Boy, can I talk to you about Final Cut Pro! I can get down with the Apple ProRes Codecs and keyboard shortcuts. I’m super fast. (I’d better be after the amount of time I spend editing.)

But the truth of the matter is I haven’t cut on Avid since people used tape. I can get myself around, but I’m pretty rusty. I admitted as much to my class, “Back when I was editing on Avid…” and when I heard myself saying it out loud, I realized that I fulfilled some bizarre aging cycle.

I spent a day last weekend importing and messing around with some footage. Even in front of the class, my hands felt like someone else’s as I attempted a few Final Cut Pro shortcuts, only to be rejected by a loud. CLUNK. (You know that sound a computer makes when it doesn’t want to do whatever you are asking of it?) Imagine that clunk amplified through a massive sound system. The girl in the front row flinched.

Thank goodness I have a teaching assistant who knows Avid very well. I am certain she is shocked the first time she corrects me. Double thank goodness later, when she brings up one of the movies I’ve edited. It shouldn’t make a difference, but she noticeably warms afterwards.

I feel my way through the Avid instructional and get them into one-on-one situations fairly quickly. We are cutting a test scene from “NYPD Blue.” (Most of them haven’t heard of it.) I feel older by the second.