These days, pros looking to expand their skillsets need not travel any further than their computer screens. The Web has become an incredible resource for those looking to be trained or build their existing creative muscles on current post tools.
There are lots of free tutorials available online, but those looking for more in-depth instruction might want to consider any of a number of paid online resources.
Post connected with a handful of training providers, all of whom offer online components at affordable rates. Whether it’s Final Cut Pro, Avid, Adobe, Resolve, Smoke or Pro Tools, they’ve got it covered, with detailed insight into these popular and powerful applications.
Some allow users to download their videos to keep. Others offer instruction as a streaming services. Updates come regularly from veterans in the field, so there’s always something new for those looking to broaden their skills.
Los Angeles-based instructor Larry Jordan (www.larryjordan.biz) specializes in training for Apple and Adobe software tools. He offers several options for those looking to learn Apple Final Cut Pro and Adobe’s Premiere and Audition, be it on-site and in-person or via his Website(www.Larryjordan.biz). He also offers downloadable programs, as well as the opportunity to purchase DVDs.
“We have probably thousands of people across the world that are using my training on Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Premiere and Adobe Audition,” says Jordan. “I travel around the world doing seminars on training… as well as corporate and private training. Training is my life.”
He says the post training business has seen significant changes in the past two to three years. “In the past, all training was done in seminars and classrooms. It’s getting hard for training companies to make a living doing classroom training. Training is moving online.”
Jordan’s Final Cut X Complete training is comprised of 200 downloadable movies that cover all aspects of this NLE software. His Adobe training includes more than 70 movies detailing Premiere, and another 50 movies covering Audition.
“The classroom is still viable, and school-based training, whether it’s Full Sail of Video Symphony, is still a career path for many people,” he says. “But the economy has played such havoc in the industry, and the budgets have decreased to such an extent that training dollars that used to be available just aren’t there anymore. The whole training industry has had to cope with finding new revenue streams.”
Jordan’s subscription plan allows participants to pay $19 per month, giving them access to all of the company’s online video training. They can also purchase downloadable video instruction or DVDs that get shipped to them. “My philosophy is: Training is essential, but not everyone can afford training,” says Jordan, who is an active industry blogger for publications and Website, including Post’s.
“Everything that I write is free — all the articles, in-depth technical stories and blogs. But the video training, I sell.”
Jordan’s YouTube channel offers many free videos for those who want to check out his instructing style and depth of expertise. “Those are free to reassure people that I know what I am talking about when it comes to training.”
The paid products, he explains, walk participants through software one step at a time, in a calm and relaxed fashion. “I want to do everything I can to get you focused on how the new software works and get you up to speed in a hurry, so you can stop being in ‘learning mode’ and start being in ‘productive, revenue-generating mode.’”
Jordan is always learning himself. He constantly reads, talks to manufacturers and attends user groups. “It’s a never-ending process of feeling that I never know enough.”
He often finds pros resistant to paid training. The old, “if it ain’t broke, done fix it” mentality. But that, Jordan believes, makes it harder to keep up in the long term. He also cautions those who prefer to self teach. While they might figure out how to reach a goal using their software, it may not be the most productive and efficient way to get there.
“Training is an investment in your marketability,” he explains. “Clients are impressed with buzz words, and there is a need to understand them and how they fit in. Protecting yourself against not being able to work in the future is essential, and it’s really useful to get trained by someone who knows how to train.”
Walter Biscardi, Jr., is a producer, editor, graphics artist and colorist. He’s also the founder of Buford, GA’s Biscardi Creative Media (www.biscardicreative.com), a studio he started from his home and which recently grew into a new 6,000-square-foot facility.
In addition to being a post services provider, Biscardi (pictured, right) is venturing into training with his recently-launched Website, www.walterbiscardi.com.
While the site may be new, his training experience has great depth. “I’ve always gravitated toward forums, sharing knowledge and helping people. And I’ve had a lot of people come to my shop and ask questions, especially on the business side,” he says.
He’s created training products, including the DVD, “Stop Staring, Start Grading With Apple Color.” His new Website will offer both paid tutorials as well as free content.
“There are so many people popping up that are doing the button-pushing [tutorials], and showing how the software works,” he notes. “And there are professional trainers that have never done the work while sitting in an edit suite with a client hanging over your shoulder. On WalterBiscardi.com, there are going to be no professional trainers. They are all going to be professional artists, showing the art, craft and business of what we do.”
The Website is now live, though pricing was still being determined at press time in late April. Visitors can sign up and join the mailing list.
Biscardi was in the process of posting a new series titled “Post Etiquette,” which is comprised of four short chapters — usually under two minutes — that detail how clients and editors should behave in a post suite. Topics covered include maintaining a positive attitude, keeping it clean, and staying calm when things might not be going well. “I’m doing them on-camera,” says Biscardi of the series, “not as a voiceover.”
One of the Website’s first large modules is “The Documentary Walkthrough,” a five-hour training series that covers everything a first-time producer needs to know — from when the client first contacts them to all the questions that need consideration before a contract is signed.
“I’ve got a producer who has produced national television shows and commercials,” says Biscardi of another planned series. “She’s going to come in and talk about planning a shoot and developing a project. Stuff that people don’t talk about, including distribution.”
Thirty-year colorist Ron Anderson will be creating the “Art and Craft of Color” series. And Biscardi is also bringing in a veteran sound designer for instruction on Pro Tools and Logic.
“Yes, there are going to be ‘button pushing’ software tutorials, but even with them, we are going to do it completely differently,” he explains. “We want to transcend the tools and talk about the creative. While I might use Premiere Pro to talk about documentary workflow, the concept and the organization that I am presenting will translate to any NLE you are using.”
Biscardi has an entire series planned for Adobe Next, as well as for Resolve, SpeedGrade and Final Cut Pro. His site will offer a subscription model for most series. Some releases will follow a “pay-for-play” model, where the title will be available to non-subscribers for a set price and to subscribers at a discounted rate. The “Producer” series, says Biscardi, could follow this format.
“We are going to offer an introductory rate, and then change it in six months,” he says of the subscription. “We are trying to be fair. Some of the modules might be expensive. I don’t know anybody else who is sharing information on ‘how to develop a series.’ Nobody wants to. It’s supposed to be a secret.”
Biscardi has already hosted live workshops at his facility too. Marco Solorio presented a three-day workshop on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, and Patrick Inhofer was scheduled to visit the studio in May to present a three-day workshop on color grading. The workshops are meant for small groups of 10 or less. Larger classes are also in the works. Biscardi Creative Media has a 1,400-square-foot studio that can be used as a 75-student classroom.
Steve Martin is the president of Prescott, AZ-based Ripple Training (www.rippletraining.com), an online resource for those looking to expand their skills on Smoke, Final Cut Pro, Resolve, After Effects, Photoshop and Media Composer.
Martin is the resident Apple expert, having worked on Final Cut Pro since its introduction. He also brings a perspective as a writer, producer and photographer to his instructional videos. As a long-time user, he understands the frustration that many Final Cut users experienced when the app abruptly jumped from Version 7 to X, but says the latest version has a lot to offer.
“Apple did a hard turn of the interface,” says Martin of the Version 10 release. “I personally think it’s the future in terms of what’s in it and how it handles the media. When it was announced, it was like, ‘Here it is. Here’s the way we are going.’ It was more of a hard cut than a dissolve. I think that is what people were up in arms about. It was disconcerting for some people who are running a business and have an infrastructure built on a platform they have been using for a long time.”
He does see brilliance in the new release, which allows almost anyone to open the app and get up to speed rather quickly. “Apple made it very uncluttered and less noisy,” notes Martin. “When you push the app, there’s a lot of depth. You just have to know how to go through the menu and bring it up. Apple deliberately put that one level down so you don’t have to deal with it if you didn’t need to. I kind of appreciate that. It’s probably the most clean and uncluttered interface I’ve ever worked with. I think that’s a huge benefit. Other systems seem very noisy to me. I’m not taking anything away from them, but I prefer the less-noisy interface.”
Ripple’s training reflects a philosophy that has moved away from the classroom experience into an online presence. As an Apple- certified trainer, Martin has spent time doing on-site training and hands-on classes. “I discovered that while classroom training is great and you have access to instructor, there was not a good retention level. The class’s progress was only going to be as fast as the slowest person in the class. It was not conducive for getting really in-depth and getting the information you need. So I developed a training company where I script all of my tutorials out… and provide the media, and essentially make a hands-on class where people move at their own pace. They can watch the video and go back and re-watch it. That’s something you can’t do with a class.”
Those who purchase instructional videos from Ripple Training are sent a link, which, when clicked, automatically launches iTunes. All of the training is downloaded in iTunes as an HD podcast. Users can connect to their iPad or iPhone, and take it with them. They own it. “Our model is different than the Lynda.com model, which is a subscription. [Our] customers download it and they own it. They don’t have to keep buying the subscription each month. A subscription works if you have voluminous amount of content. We are more of a boutique, with highly-focused, specialized training.
Ripple’s Final Cut Pro training begins with the Apple Pro Video Series, which is priced at just $39 (720p) and includes 40 movies, making up a collective five hours of training. Media is also included. For $10 more, the company offers 1080p versions. They also offer Apple tutorials that focus on “Sound,” “Advanced Training,” “Media Management,” “Multicam Editing,” “Compositing” and “Titles.”
Typically, Martin says, each video is between $29-$49, depending on how much material is covered in that tutorial. They also offer 8GB USB memory sticks as an option for those who prefer not to download the videos.
The company’s Autodesk Smoke on the Mac tutorials are completely free and include two hours of training. “Autodesk contacted us and they pretty much underwrote the production of that particular title,” Martin explains. “They like what we are doing and how we are doing it.”
Ripple instruction for Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve includes 11 hours of training, with prices starting at $79.99 for the 720p ($89.99/1080p, $99.99/USB).
“At NAB, [Blackmagic] launched Resolve 10, which includes an online editor,” Martin notes. “There is more editing in Resolve and they seem to be really beefing up its editing abilities. Resolve is not a light program that you dabble in. You have to learn it to get the power of the program. We are starting to release smaller focused tutorials called ‘Creative Looks,’ which are how to create looks in Resolve.”
LA-based Steve Kanter creates the Avid tutorials, which cover Media Composer 6, Avid Symphony 6 and NewsCutter 10. “He knows the Avid very well,” says Martin of Kanter. “The Avid product is a very deep program, so our training reflects that.” Ripple’s Avid Core Training is approximately seven hours long and includes media. Pricing begins at $79.99.
Martin says Ripple Training works to release new tutorials each month. The company also spends time developing plug-ins for Final Cut Pro. They offer motion graphics templates, transitions and color balance solutions that are low-cost and easy to use. They offer free tutorials showcasing the releases on their Website.
Igor Ridanovic (pictured, right) is an online/finishing artist as well as an HD and D-Cinema consultant who offers one-on-one training. In addition, he operates HDhead.com, a Website that serves as a resource for pros who want to learn more about high definition and digital cinema. The site offers tips, articles and tutorials, as well as “easily-digestible answers” to many frequently asked questions.
Ridanovic’s insight and expertise is provided for free. There’s no catch. He’s always been inspired by open source and the idea that information should be shared. He also feels that, given free stuff, users will find a way to embellish it. The strategy is a response to his own experiences in the post field, which date back to the ‘90s. As an apprentice, he could observe Quantel Henry and Harry artists, but always with a guarded caution from artists, who were careful not to give up their seats. “They were not forthcoming, and learning was slow,” he recalls. “It’s an outdated model. I decided to let information be free. I’m not afraid of losing my seat, because I have to learn anyway. I am constantly learning. You have to!”
Ridanovic’s expertise spans a number of tools, including Avid’s DS, which he uses to put the “final icing on the cake.” The post community, he feels, needs more skilled DS users, and his knowledge can help. Avid shares his insight on their Website too. To date, he’s produced over six hours of online tutorials, and even a Spanish-language release. He’s also conducted seminars and workshops at conventions like NAB and DV Expo, and has been a speaker at user groups and small workshops for post supervisors.
“One may ask, ‘What is the benefit of giving out free things?’” he asks. “Certainly there is a benefit to those who consume my tutorials. There are also benefits to myself, because I expand my reputation as an expert, and in the tutorial creation process I reach a deeper understanding of the subject matter. I think the knowledge transfer should be more open because we all benefit from it. It’s a two-way street, where one of the ways doesn’t need to be paved in money to make it profitable.”
Ridanovic monitors the HDhead Website for searches and feedback to see what the community is looking for and is able to quickly respond with a focused tutorial. “My tutorials are not as slick and as produced as the ones that can be purchased online,” he admits. “They are relatively quick to make and I can respond to the demand fast. HDhead.com is really not a training site, but a general resource page. My tutorials, for the most part, address niche needs of a limited scope that established training entities don’t tackle. In that sense, I don’t think that I am eroding anyone else’s business model.”
As a DI colorist and picture-finishing artist at Kappa Studios, Ridanovic has worked on an upcoming theatrical Lionsgate release, as well as on Cartoon Network’s hit, Annoying Orange.