Adding time and dull process steps might help us to be more creative!

Can boring planning and admin tasks can be an essential part of the creative process. Slowing the process down with routine tasks might help keep us in control of the creative outcome.

Author Will Self said that for the last few years he has been using an old fashioned type writer but that he's not a Luddite. The reason for this is that he wants keep the creative activity in his brain and not the word processor. He said that with a word processor you try things out on the page and not in your head; you see how things look and keep changing them until something comes right.

How does this apply to shooting and editing video?

In the old days of linear film and video editing you couldn't easily undo mistakes, the process was slow. You had to plan out the sequence in your head or on paper before you started. 

The expectations of instant creativity, and Ctrl z, mean that students editing video will often put all the available material into the software package without evaluating it first. They will try out sequences on the timeline before deciding what they actually want to achieve. It seems that essential thinking time has been missed out.

A good film maker will shoot with the final edited sequence in mind – often with a storyboard. They will have visualised the final sequence before picking up the camera. The angles, the framing, the movement will all influence what the final edit will look like.  By skipping the thinking time more is left to chance and the work will be shaped by whatever you happen to capture.

At the editing stage a good discipline is to view and log shots before you begin editing, discard any rubish and label the clips. By doing this you become familiar with the material and ideas begin to form in your head.  You might even do what we called a "paper edit".

The process I use is to turn the boring task of trans-coding shots (from the capture format to the editing format) into a useful logging and thinking stage.  I use Mpeg Streamclip to trim away the rubbish, re-label the clips and trans code from MP4 to an edit friendly file. As I'm looking at the material I like to imagine what the finished sequence might look like.

All these process steps do an essential thing. they add time. Ideas need time to form so perhaps the boring parts of the process can help provide space to think.