I’ve been on a bit of an old-school video kick recently, trying to find the best videos from the best editors from the beginning of the millennium. This search has led to going through and downloading and watching everything I can from such editors as MisterFurious, Kusoyaro, and Akimbo. And although now would be a perfect time to go off on a discourse about how such editors helped to shape the hobby as we know it today, I actually want to talk about something more universal, something that any editor who’s been around for a few years has probably experienced as time has gone on: maturity.
Maybe not everyone can relate, but still, indulge me for a few minutes. I mentioned some old-school editors, but really the fact that it was their videos that got me thinking about this is incidental. Still, I can’t help but get waves of nostalgia that have nothing to do with the editor or the particular video when I read a video description that says something like this:
I remember the days when I was in college and had a lot of free time, and had just discovered AMVs and I didn’t want to do anything but make them. It was a time of pure innocence, where I hadn’t watched enough to know the things that were good and the things that were bad. All I really knew was that it was awesome to sync visuals up to music and I didn’t want to do anything else.
I would get an idea, and then spend hours ripping scenes and preparing footage, and then usually the responsibilities of college life would call me away, or sleep would be needed, and then as soon as I was free again I’d spend all my time editing. I would forsake friends, food, everything just to get my idea on the timeline. I was prolific in my early days, rarely spending more than a week or two on a single video, often doing everything (including scene prep) in a single day. I was a machine. I loved this stuff. This wasn’t just a hobby, this was my life. My girlfriend at the time was none too thrilled with this new fixation (attention me of eight years ago: That is your first sign, pay attention), but I didn’t care — my creativity finally had an outlet, and all I cared about was pumping out videos.
Now, needless to say, my output during that time was largely crap. I was learning, experimenting, trying all sorts of things, and the results were…well, I’d prefer you just take my word for it that they weren’t great, rather than look for yourself.
Even so…this was the period where editing for me was the most fun. I had no reservations, I had nothing to lose, and I had everything to prove. It was for pure enjoyment, and I was motivated to go all-out on everything I did in a way that I’m not now. I may not have made anything particularly good, but I enjoyed every second that I was sitting at my computer making a video.
Don’t get me wrong. I still love editing. In fact, it’s one of the…no, it’s the only hobby I partake in where I can lose myself in it for hours without getting bored or feeling like I need to take a break. But the focus has shifted; now, it’s become about perfecting a piece of work rather than cranking out another half-baked idea just so I can move on to the next one. It’s become a much more introspective endeavor than ever to create a video; I now find myself overthinking everything and tweaking every scene. I take things slowly now, no longer rushing headlong to the next effect or cut, but painstakingly going through my clips until I get the exact right one, making sure everything is consistent and fluid.
Now, this method has resulted in my three best videos in at least six years, so I won’t complain, and the process is no less enjoyable than it’s ever been, but it’s…different. It does feel like I lost a bit of my editing innocence along the way. For anyone who genuinely loves something to the extent that I love AMVs, this is bound to happen. You begin to get protective of certain facets of that thing. You form opinions. You make friends and enemies as you interact with others who share your passion. You begin to internalize things and this reveals itself in your work; in short, you mature, and as you mature, your work matures with you.
There’s nothing wrong with this; it’s a natural and desirable transformation. But whenever this happens, in any context, there is a touch of the bittersweet that accompanies the change. Because most people, when they first do something that they love, will do it without holding anything back; their passion drives them, often into strange and (to those who have already matured) distasteful places. But it’s pure, untainted passion, and as sloppy as it may be, this often shines through the creator’s work. I miss being able to fully communicate an unfiltered passion for my craft in the work that I do. I tried to do this with Hold Me Up, linked above, but even in that video it feels slightly manufactured to me (although, hopefully only me).
I dunno. I certainly wouldn’t change where I am as an editor right now. The future is probably brighter than it’s ever been for me in terms of editing, by virtue of the fact that my skills have advanced to a point where I am extremely comfortable with pretty much every aspect of editing. I know how to make a video, and more importantly I know I know how to make a video. There is something to be said for the confidence that comes with experience. But there’s also something to be said for the kind of confidence that is bred in ignorance; it can drive the editor to create total crap or a balls-to-the-wall masterpiece, and unfortunately this is the kind of confidence that can’t be learned, it can only ever be unlearned, for better and for worse.