Learning about a music video editing contest just two weeks before the deadline isn’t the best way to kick off a new creative journey. Working against a strict timeline has its perks and as I learned, it’s better to plan ahead, take notes and execute appropriately. My 30hrs of effort wasn’t nearly enough to make the impact I was hoping for….and reading the instructions helps too because if you want to make it to the big leagues, you gotta invest that time, effort and energy to make it happen. You’re one of the hundreds, if not thousands, who are competing for the same grand prize.
So, with all my newly found knowledge, I’m going to share with you on how you can properly prepare for competition.
1) Read the Entry Requirements and Terms
Man, this one is the ultimate killer because when you don’t pay attention to the details you can get yourself eliminated before anyone actually looks at your work. For instance, my understanding of the contest for the Imagine Dragons Make the Cut gig, was that your program usage was limited to Premier Pro and that while I read it closely. I was sure those were some pretty tight restrictions.
It wasn’t until I saw the finalists that I realized I was completely wrong, misread the details and just didn’t pay attention. People are amazingly talented. Some have teams and some are flying solo. Either way, read the rules.
Often times those rules mention the piece cannot be uploaded elsewhere or promoted on social media, so be careful or those 100+ invested hours will turn into nothing more than a really good learning experience.
2) Get Into Your Creative Zone
Whether you like to sit by the river, drive out to a quiet cabin for 2 weeks or blast some metal in your production room, do what it takes to get into your creative zone. Once you understand the rules, consume yourself in the brand, the people and the messaging. To produce something judges will love, consider each of these individuals and the work they’ve done.
Take notes, sketch out ideas and play with words from a script or song that have significant meaning or emphasis. This can often help you craft a visual journey.
In my case, I’m not afraid to admit I was extremely off base. Based on my understanding of #1, I created something that was solid, but not even close to what the judges were looking for. The top 25 used a lot of digital effects which included color correction, overlays, flares, color swaps and rotoscoping. All of these things can add dozens, if not hundreds of hours to your project.
Which leads me to my last point…
3) Bloody Hell, Please Plan Accordingly
If you got #1 and #2 down, you ain’t gonna get it done without planning accordingly. You have to be realistic too because while the Make the Cut opportunity looks awesome, it may not be realistic to get the project going and completed at the level it truly deserves.
Ultimately though, I would hit the project in phases and give yourself enough time. Plan and get your creative thoughts down, then rough cut your piece. Get all the shots you want in line and leave effects for later. If you don’t get the pacing right first, it’s going to be a little painful to work through.
Take your rough cut and save a copy you can revert to whether you create another sequence in one project and save a separate project altogether. What comes next, is the creative flair and this is often a shot-by-shot effort. Using VFX and other tools to achieve your vision isn’t always the most fun, especially when you’re rotoscoping for 8 hours, but sometimes being artistic means grinding it out.
What An Opportunity, It Was Fun
Yeah, my hopes and dreams were crushed after realizing I completely missed the mark, but IT WAS AMAZING! The fact that we live in a world where more and more creatives are given a chance to show what they got is amazing and I tip my hat to Adobe and Imagine Dragons for putting on this gig.
For those not familiar, Imagine Dragons released their raw footage and track for the world to download and edit however they chose. It was both mind blowing and energizing to work on something real. Something that felt like a true opportunity to show what you can do. Through this experience, I realized that music videos, in general, may not be my gig if they aren’t story driven, and that’s okay.
Part of developing into the artist you want to be is understanding where your strengths and weaknesses are. Your style defines you, so don’t be afraid to try new things and push the boundaries of what you can. At the same time, know what your limits are and do the best you can.
When it comes down to it, the most important thing you can do is educate yourself. Keep trying new things. Keep learning. Keep trying to be the best you can be.
Finally, Here’s My Edit
Now that the contest period is over, I can share my edit (until it’s removed from YouTube). Take a look below. Do you have a similar experience you’d like to share? What would you do different? Did you participate in the contest? Let me know in the comments below.