Siân Fever, short-form aficionado
Top editor brings energy and organization to short-form projects with Adobe Premiere Pro CC
Siân Fever will be presenting the session “How to Make It in Short-Form Video with Premiere Pro CC” in the Adobe stand 7.G27 at IBC 2015 on Friday, Sept. 11th at 11:30 am and 2:30 pm and Saturday, Sept. 12th at 10:30 am.
Siân Fever knew that she wanted to work in video production when she was just a teenager. She consumed a steady diet of MTV and gravitated towards behind-the-scenes videos featuring famed music video director Joseph Kahn talking about his work. After hearing raves about it from a fellow Blockbuster employee, she knew her path would involve film school.
Fever studied at the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology, the same school attended by alumni such as Adele and Amy Winehouse, and then Bournemouth University before taking her first job at MTV. Throughout her career, she has primarily focused on short-form content, and believes there is a lot to be gained by working in this genre. To help her stay organized, edit quickly, and manage client expectations, Fever uses Adobe Premiere Pro CC.
Adobe: What did you do for MTV?
Fever: After graduating with a Television Production degree, I heard about an entry-level position at MTV. The network wanted an intern who knew their programming really well to help produce programming to celebrate MTV’s 25th anniversary. I interviewed the next day and started the following Monday.
Part of my job was to interview artists, actors and celebrities as they came through the station for link and clip shows. Later, I worked as a researcher, which included writing scripts, editing and camera work, and I floor-managed an afternoon studio show too! There was so much variety, I loved being there.
Adobe: What was next for you?
Fever: I left MTV after 18 months and took a job as a Junior Editor / Production Assistant at a production company that specialized in music programming. After four years working on music videos, music commercials, long-form documentaries about bands, and music festival television series, I started freelancing with an agency. Since then, I’ve been diversifying my body of work, editing a lot of branded content and promos, and translating everything I’ve learned in music television to my online and broadcast work.
Adobe: How did your early career prepare you for future projects?
Fever: The high-profile clients, multi-layered approval processes, tight budgets, and rapid turnaround times in the music industry set me up better than I could have imagined at the time. Short form’s credibility can be largely overlooked or dismissed by the wider industry, but I’d argue there’s a lot to be gained by working in this area.
Joseph Kahn once said that the short length of a commercial means that every shot needs to be on point, and I totally agree. You don’t have time to waste and need to be very clear about the story you are telling.
Adobe: How has your editing style grown and evolved?
Fever: I don’t believe an editor should have a visual style, as you must adapt to the style that your client would like. But having a selection of styles you are particularly adept at can be an advantage. In an operational sense, I started editing using a drag-and-drop method, but quickly saw the light and transitioned to using as many keyboard shortcuts as I could. And I am quite disciplined with how my projects are organized.
I think you should be able to hand over a project at any stage of the process and someone else can pick it up and hit the ground running. This is especially important in short form when you are working with creative agencies or in-house at production companies. Projects progress and change rapidly and you can be working on three or four different projects in the same day. Someone else might have to pick up the project that you just put down, so for me, the ideal situation is that the project is self-explanatory without a handover.
Sequences need to have a clear version numbering system with columns to indicate which editor has worked on it, if necessary. I’m a big fan of keeping media in one folder and sequences in another—with subfolders for video, audio, graphics, etc.—to keep the Project pane as clutter-free as possible. Hopefully all of that organization is reflected in your storage as well. It helps that with Adobe Premiere Pro CC your Auto Save and render files can follow your project.
Adobe: What do you like most about working with Premiere Pro?
Fever: I love how quickly I can ingest my footage, and how intuitive and responsive it is. If I have an afternoon to edit a piece, sitting in a room with eight clients waiting 15 minutes for something to render isn’t going to work.
Not long ago I edited a program for BBC iPlayer that had a 24-hour turnaround. The studio engineer recorded the first take of each song with two cameras and then played it back for the artist, who lip synced to the original take for the next two takes. In the end, I had six takes that lined up perfectly. I used the multicam feature in Premiere Pro to edit five songs and an interview for a 25-minute show, overnight, and it was on iPlayer just a few hours later. I can’t imagine completing this project in that timeframe with another NLE.
Adobe: What are some key learnings from your career?
Fever: Revising your process is really valuable if you want to keep learning and evolving as an editor. While you’re editing, I’d recommend keeping one eye on what frustrates you. This is normally a good indicator of something in your process that isn’t benefitting you or that could be more efficient. Once you’ve identified your weak spot, record it to solve at a later date.
I have the worst memory recall. I’m not going to remember how to use the new feature I’ve been playing with six weeks from now when I’m up against a deadline. So I write everything down and store it somewhere quick to access. I make sure I have a notepad and pen on me, and I keep a digital notebook as a repository of software cheat sheets and client information.
Also, while considering where to take your career, look inward. Pay close attention to what makes you happy, and be really honest with yourself. When in doubt, take a moment to ask yourself the following question: What would you do if you weren’t afraid? I’m always surprised by my answer, and while I might not act on it, it often shines a light on what I really want.
Adobe: What’s next for you?
Fever: I’d love to work on more scripted drama, that’s where my heart is right now. I recently earned my first credit working as an Assistant Editor on a Channel 4 drama, which was really fun. I consider myself really lucky to have been involved, and would love to steer my career in that direction.
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