Category: Education

Self Employed In 90 Days

Hello,

I’m Sean Witzke, and I’m a music producer, videographer, photography, and all around media enthusiast. 90 days ago I cancelled my Netflix subscription, and set out on a journey to upgrade my personal skill set, become self employed, and in the end foster a lifestyle of learning and creativity versus consumption and laziness. In turn, I exchanged my Netflix subscription for a Lynda.com subscription; a website which develops university level online tutorial videos (photography, videography, music production, photoshop, autocad etc.). This website gave me the platform to help achieve my goals, and in the end, I achieved them.

What started off as a personal experiment, trying to teach myself how to program, turned into a full on lifestyle change through pursuing business opportunities, learning new skills, and overall being more prone to take risks and adventure out into the world. I can say that I’ve accomplished more than I ever have within 90 days. I went on multiple road trips across the coast of Oregon, and British Columbia; both endowed with amazing scenery and photographic inspiration… upgraded my video production arsenal far beyond what I thought I would personally own at this point in my life… founded my own video production company which currently specializes in wedding videography, Small City Film… and built a hefty portfolio in both videography and photography.

A Change In Direction

I look back now, and it’s interesting to see where this journey has led me. My original intent was to learn different programming languages, and see where that would take me in the world of technology, but after multiple nights on Lynda.com, I began watching tutorials on video production; more then I planned. I started growing more in my confidence as a videographer, throwing myself into new opportunities, and taking on projects I thought were once out of my reach. Overtime, I started filming more and more, and eventually landed multiple wedding video gigs over the summer. My goal at becoming self employed grew far closer then it ever did with programming, and so the switch was made.

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Day 43: Saving For Your Future vs. Investing In Your Future

Having a considerable amount of video work coming up in the next two months has made me change the way I look at money. The truth is, I am not a considerably wealthy person. I was a university student for two years of my life who operated a home studio out of his basement; both of which don’t really make any money…

Saving vs. Investing

Whether it’s buying a new tripod head, upgrading a camera, or maybe buying some new on location audio equipment, these things start to cost a lot once you reach the “prosumer” grade. However, my mentor brought up a great point; you’ll pay it off within the month. This is what makes saving vs. investing radically different. 

After paying it off within the month, I’ll have a higher quality portfolio filled with content my old gear couldn’t achieve, along with a nice arsenal of professional equipment… and only a month went by! Sometimes we could be saving, and saving, and saving for months, or years until we finally take the plunge. Yet, if we would have taken a loan, or started to bootstrap equipment better, you could be miles ahead.

Not Everything Is An Investment

Of course, not every thing involving your profession could be considered an investment, and you have to be careful with that. “I just need a new MacBook Pro for programming”. No you don’t. “But I want to use Xcode”. Well… buy a Mac Mini thenand save yourself the money. Don’t use this as an excuse to get the latest and greatest. Those are peripheral things. Instead, bring yourself back to the goal; how I can start contributing more professionally to a certain field, as soon as possible.

What Should I Invest In

Saving is a great tool and discipline, but the truth is that it’s only half the story. Every dollar saved somewhere, should have a future purpose for being spent elsewhere. Money is only a means to accomplish an end, and the key is to make sure you remember what your real goal is; upgrading your education, buying new gear, saving for a house etc. When all you do is focus on the numbers, your creativity stagnates, and the fear of whether you have enough money will start take over. That kind of fear keeps you working a job for 30 years that you never really liked, just to let you take home a decent pay cheque, instead of fearing whether you’ll work a job that you actually like, for the next 30 years.

If you want to know what you should invest in, ask yourself what you would do if money wasn’t an issue. Would you be working the same job, or getting the same degree? Figure out what it is, and how your money, time and energy can be better used for the accomplishment of that purpose.

Check out this Ted Talk. It speaks towards overcoming fear, and doing what you’re passionate about.

Day 40: People Over Personal Computers

An interview with Steve Jobs from 1995, while he was still working with Next, provided some insightful input into what it means for someone to become enticed with curiosity. You can skip to 9:20 and watch till about 18:00 to see what I’m talking about, but for the most part, the entire interview is fairly phenomenal.

Putting A Face On Learning

Previously in the interview, Job’s was speaking towards the fact that he almost had his creativity and zeal for learning beat out of him by the time he was in Grade 4. However, a certain teacher decided to give him one last chance, and that chance helped re-engage his drive and desire to learn. Jobs, then mentioned that machines cannot engage someone with curiosity as well as a person can.

Putting a face behind learning isn’t something we naturally tend to do. Most of the time when someone envisions what it means to learn it usually looks like sticking your head in a textbook, taking some tests, and getting a passing grade or degree. Yet rarely do we equate it with professors, teachers, educators, and mentors. Like I said in an early post… who are you surrounding yourself with? Are you approaching life with a sense that there is always something to be learned from somebody? Or do you just equate that with “school” or “education”, letting yourself off the hook from learning in any other facet of your life?

Don’t Waste Your Time

If you’re in high school or university right now, I’d encourage you to fully utilize the ability to speak personally with your professors. Pick their brains. Ask them about their successes and failures. They are there for a reason. Otherwise it would be no different then taking the class online. Most of the professors I’ve had while attending University said specifically that they could be off doing some other thing that would make a lot more money, but the truth is, they enjoy teaching; and they enjoy teaching those that want to learn, even more.

It thrills me to say that you can learn a lot of what your learning in University on Lynda.com, but it also saddens me that University has become no more then an experience that could be swapped for an online tutorial, and you can change that… just by opening your mouth, asking a few questions, and become someone who wants to learn from people while the ability is still there.

Day 36: You Are The Average Of Your Five Closest Friends

This past week, multiple videography jobs have been falling into my lap left and right, and improving my skill set has been only half the story as to why this has been happening; the other half I credit towards people. These people are those who I’ve been surrounding myself with.

“You are the average of the five closest people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

Learning From A Friend

I have a friend who got married this past New Years. He lived in California, and so I took a road trip with some friends down to California to attend his wedding. Ironically, he’s a videographer, and shoots weddings as well. While I was down there, I had the time to ask him how he get into wedding videography, and he said “easy, I just called up the best wedding videographer in town and asked if he could teach me.” I thought that sounded too easy… but it was the truth… and that struck a pretty deep chord in me. A chord that resonated and said I can do that too.

Learning From An Expert

When I got back, I approached a friend who was a professional videographer, and asked if I could help him out with his shoots. Not for money, but just to help, and be there, and learn. Over the time I helped with his shoots I learned things like how to manage a film shoot efficiently, dealing with multiple camera angles, the benefit of using different lenses, and not to mention using gear that I could have never gotten my hands on with my own personal budget. And the benefit for him… he got a guy willing to lug around his gear for free. Hah. What a deal! Now, I consider him a sort of mentor in the field of videography.

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Day 33: Mdat.mov, Corrupt Video Files, and Keywords

If you’ve been following my blog for sometime, you’ll know that over the weekend I lost all of the video I shot on my DSLR because the SD card became corrupt. Well… I’m sitting here at a Starbucks fixing my corrupted files slowly but surely, and I’ve learned some thing that every person, who’s involved in todays tech sector, needs to know. Keywords.

What Are Keywords

Keywords are, well… the keywords you use in order to place searches in either online databases, search engines like Google, or even a help file built into an application. I have a pretty well rounded understanding of how to utilize the functionality of keyword searches, but today has reminded me how important they really are.

Diagnosing The Problem

You see, after recovering my SD card’s corrupted data, I found that my .MOV files were actually separated into two separate files. Ones that had the extension of ftyp.mov, and the others that had an extension of mdat.mov. Each file consists of certain unique elements that when the two files are combined, create the on .MOV file we are so used to clicking on, and playing on our computers.

After hours of searching online for a program that could help me to combine these files, and recover my shots, I came up empty handed… until today. A few hours ago, I decided to give it one last shot. I began searching in Google for “fragmented .mov files”, and then “corrupt .mov files” and then “mdat.mov” and “recover mdat.mov files” etc. Until finally, I found one forum where a user mentioned the word “truncated”. He specifically said “truncated mp4”. I then decided to google “repair truncated mp4”, and I finally found relevant content. Multiple companies offering different programs to repair .mp4 and .mov files.

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Day 26: Put Down The Textbook

Over this past week I’ve been doing a lot more freelancing work, both audio and video. It’s amazing what happens when you throw yourself out there, meet people, and make connections. This week entailed sitting down with multiple people to plan out a few projects to record their EP or Single, as well as some film shoots. I haven’t had as much time to do anything else because of it.

Put Down The Textbook

There comes a point when you need to put what you know into practice, and over this past month I’ve forgotten about that every now and then. I love learning, growing, and being challenged, but sometimes putting yourself to work is the best way to accomplish these things; sometimes you just need to make stuff.

I’ve noticed that I remember things better when I learn them under high-pressure situations; and no, that doesn’t mean studying for an exam. What I mean is when your filming a concert, and you need to setup the shot before they start the next song. Or filming a wedding and making sure everything is going as planned, as the bride walks down the isle. It’s under these circumstances that I so often go back to in my mind, and remember how I overcome adversity.

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Day 24: Sometimes You Need A Teacher

This past while, I’ve been finishing my Pro Tools 10 Essential Training course on Lynda.com and I found that I learned how to troubleshoot my sessions better.

What Is Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting is a form of problem solving, often applied to repair failed products or processes. It is a logical, systematic search for the source of a problem so that it can be solved, and so the product or process can be made operational again.” – Wikipedia (Because I love Wikipedia)

What I Learned

Pro Tools handles your computers RAM in a way I never really knew about. Knowing about it will now help me be able to streamline my computers processing power in different types of recording sessions. One thing I never knew about was how the undo commands in Pro Tools were stored in your RAM. (But I guess all undo commands in any program are stored in your RAM, so I learned something new all together) You can have a max of 32 undos stored, but each one thats being stored takes memory away from other memory intensive tasks.

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Day 19: The Internet: Quality Control vs. Freedom Of Speech

This past week, I’ve been browsing the internet, trying to understand the impact such a vast and complex resource so easily accessible must have on modern day society. I’ve grown up in a time where the amount of memories of the non-internet days grows slim. Although, there’s a few atoms bouncing around in there that know what I’m talking about…

In a previous post, I talked a bit about how I started experimenting with some audio gear I had access to when I was younger. However, I never really mentioned how I learned what I know now. It actually went something like this… People-> Google-> YouTube

The Best Manual Around

Most of what I know came from the internet, not from a physical book. Now, I say that my learning started with people, because it was originally my Uncle, Dad, and Mom, who got my started with my first pieces of gear to experiment with. But after that, I had turned mostly to the internet to further my learning. Whenever I encountered an issue, something I didn’t know, or heard something on a record, and wanted to do the same thing, I would google it. This would usually lead me to some sort of video on YouTube of some guy or girl showing the viewers how to do it, and I’d fumble my way through the steps till I mastered the skill myself. Great! Sounds pretty easy, right? … well, not when YouTube is loaded with a whole lot of cat videos, and people who don’t know what the heck they are talking about. This is where Quality Control vs. Freedom of Speech comes in.

Now, do I believe that people can post blogs, videos, tutorials of whatever they choose? Yes. Even if they don’t know much about it? Sure. It’s not that big of a deal to me. The big deal is… how can I sift through all of that, and find the tutorials that I actually need? The quality ones.

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Day 15: Education Is Going Down The Drain

Education is going down the drain, and into the ocean…. the ocean of the great internet abyss.

Being a student for almost 15 out of 20 years of my life, I’ve seen the methods in educations change right before my eyes. In Grade 1, they told us we needed to know cursive handwriting for high school. Then in Grade 3 they said we’d still be using long division in high school. Grade 4, they said if we didn’t know how to use the library, we wouldn’t be able to research anything… and then in Grade 5 they started us on a typing course to accelerate our typing speed. In Grade 6, they showed us how to use an online search engine. In Grade 7, the typing course was debunked as its uses were minimally beneficial in the increasingly technology-savvy students. So then in Grade 8, when everyone in my english class asked the teacher “when are we going to use our cursive handwriting that we learned in Grade 1?” there was, of course, no easy answer.

Things change. And yet people talk as though it wasn’t happening right now. I wish I was there when they released the Apple 1, they might say, or, I wish I’d been around for the first cellphone, the first car, the first rocket ship… You can go on and on, talking about all the things you’ve missed, while sitting here watching the newest and greatest thing pass right before your eyes. Education is one of these changing things. I believe this will change the world…. so why are you looking away?

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