Self Employed In 90 Days


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 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, 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.

Read more

Day 47: The Case For The Visual Learner

In regards to getting a grasp on programming fundamentals, Objective-C has been a lot easier to learn then PHP. Not necessarily the programming language (all though it is more readable), but the fact that everyone who’s coding with Objective-C is using the same developing environment; Xcode. A developing environment is a piece of software that has all the capabilities for reading, writing, and compiling code built into it, along with a graphical user interface builder (and many other tools). To create any sort of program or application that will run on iOS or OS X, you’ll need to use Xcode. Some might say that’s very crippling for developers, but I think it’s the one reason that made the AppStore take off, and has made learning Objective-C a lot easier for me, then PHP.

Consistency While Learning

I tend to leap onto “industry standard” programs, just because I learn better on more widely adopted technology, because it’s a lot easier to learn when everyone is using the same technology/program, and platform. Inherently, widely adopted technology makes for easier learning when surfing the web. If I’m watching a tutorial on one day, and then watching another tutorial on YouTube the other day… when both tutorials are using the same platform i.e Xcode, or Pro Tools, or Premiere Pro… it makes it a lot easier to learn and build off of content from multiple areas on the web.

When I was just getting into audio engineering (around the age of 13), I had some entry level software to do all my mixing and editing on. I remember at the time, searching for tutorials and guides was brutal! There were a lot of videos out there on Pro Tools, and Logic, but watching them, and then looking at my software trying to translate what I was learning was hard and inefficient. While I was learning some core concepts of PHP, different tutorials would be using different code editors,  colours, fonts, and sometimes operating systems based off of the time they were recorded at. You might think these are all peripheral things, but when it comes down to it, visual learning works best when the visuals remain consistent.

“Free”dom For Programmers

So far, every tutorial I’ve watched on Objective-C has been coupled with Xcode, and that’s been extremely helpful when trying to remember the things I’ve watched. Now, opening up Xcode is a lot like replaying a tutorial I’ve watched in my mind, just because that was where I was first acquainted with it. Not everyone has this luxury, mainly because not all IDE’s are free like Xcode. You could be watching a great tutorial on C++ in Microsoft Visual Studio, but for someone who’s just learning to program, that might not be an initial product purchase you’d be willing to make. Then you’ll be in the same situation I was when I was 13; using some sort of entry level software, but watching tutorials on industry standard software. If you have a Mac, and a burning desire to learn some programming, then you have the ability to use a widely adopted language on a great platform for free; Objective-C and Xcode.

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.

Read more

Day 17: Night On The Town

I was out late with a friend last night, experimenting with some night photography in the city of Vancouver. I’m preparing to eventually take a timelapse of the night sky, so I thought this would be a good time to experiment with my camera in low-light conditions. Taking photos of the landscape, lights, and architecture helped me realized how privileged I am to live in such a beautiful city.

The Ends vs. The Means

Being in a generation that’s so closely knit together with technology, I think the idea of going out, exploring, and reseting is a vital aspect in helping foster creativity. The original desire that brought me to take photos and videos, record songs for musicians, or experiment with coding never really had to do with the skills themselves, but what they could accomplish. You don’t fall in love with hammers, saws, and nails, because you just love hammers, saws, and nails. You fall in love with them because of what they can do; build tables, chairs, cabinets, houses. So it is with why we learn what we learn.

I encourage you who is reading to take a look at your life and ask yourself whether you’ve strayed from the big picture… what you originally set out to accomplish. Have you been too caught up in what you’re doing, versus why you’re doing it? I’d like to end this post off with a picture I took last night.

The following is a photo of the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver, BC.


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?

Read more

Day 12: A New Course: Pro Tools Essential Training

After learning some basic PHP coding, and experimenting with some new filming techniques, it’s time to move on to a new course and dive into some uncharted knowledge. In my previous post Making Up For Lost Time, I stated that along with wanting to learn programming, I’m also a film geek and audiophile (audio geek). This post will explore a bit more of my passion for film and audio.

My Audio Roots

Between the ages of 10 to 13 I learned to play acoustic guitar, and when I was 13, my Uncle let me borrow his small sound mixer, which I ended with me experimenting with audio almost every day. The computer in my parents family room ended up being pulled into the middle of the room during the daytime, just so I could get to the back of it to compare the microphone and line input as I was trying out my Uncles mixer, plugging in different mics and guitars. Sometimes things sounded okay, and sometimes not so much. You gotta understand. I was 13. I had no idea what I was doing. But I was hooked.

By the time my 15th birthday arrived, I was set on buying my own small mixing board. My Mom ended up buying me one for my birthday (wooo!), and then I bought a pair of knock off SM58 microphones with newspaper route money.  After that, recording gear just kept falling into my lap, either through gifts my parents have given me, gear I found at church garage sales, or people who owned gear and didn’t know what to do with it… so they gave it to me… Awesome, right?

Read more

Day 10: What Can You Do In An Hour?

I’m proud to say that I finished two courses on within the first week of my 90 day challenge. The first course was a 14 hour introduction on the PHP programming language with MySQL. The other was an hour-and-a-half course on how to shoot a hyperlapse with your DSLR camera. If you don’t know what a hyperlapse is, you can refer to my previous post Making Up For Lost Time.  You might be thinking that’s an insane amount of time, and that you yourself could never put in that much time into learning some new skills between work, family, and friends, but one great feature Lynda has is the ability to play videos at 1.25x, 1.5x, 1.75x, and 2x the speed. In total I spent only 9 hours watching these courses over a series of 8 days. That’s a little more than one hour a day…. not too bad, if you ask me!

What Can You Do In An Hour?

When I used to watch Netflix, I would spend anywhere between 1-3 hours a day watching TV shows, or movies. This past week I was able to create my own mini web application that could create, update, delete, and read database entries, helping me create a dynamic website. I also learned how to film my own hyperlapse while on vacation, allowing me to have a keepsake for the future… not to mention, gaining more personal experience with my DSLR! For only an hour a day I was able to seriously amp up my skills while having fun at the same time. Watching movies and TV shows for 3 hours a day never came close to the amount of “entertainment” I had this past week.

So now I want to turn the tables: what can you do in an hour? Read a few chapters in a book. Watch some video tutorials on a topic of interest. Learn a song on an instrument. If it helps, take a look at what you are currently doing about an hour a day? Is it worth spending that much time on? Could you give it up? If you learned one song each day for 7 days on your favourite instrument, instead of playing an hour of video games a day, by the end of the week you’d know 7 songs, and be able to host your own concert at a local coffee shop. Hey, you might even earn some money on ticket sales. What would the hour of playing video games do for you? Get you a better high score maybe?

Read more

Day 5: Making Up For Lost Time

In my first post I mentioned that I intended to learn a series of computer programming languages, and a few other skills “here and there”. Well the time has come for the “here and there” post!

Now I love the creative arts, and am passionate about music and film. I love creative expression, and helping others express themselves through the arts. I think it’s this passion which originally sparked my interest in learning some programming languages. At the start of my experimentation with programming, I felt a bit like an artist looking at a blank canvas, but as I began delving deeper into programming, a painting began to emerge; it truly is an art form requiring practice, dedication and creativity!

And I believe that programming, like any art form, give us a glimpse into eternity, as it parallels the space of the infinite: no project is ever the same. Now hopefully down the road I can talk a little bit more about what I do in the space of musicianship, music production, and audio engineering, but today, this post is reserved for the film geeks!

Take Everything In Moderation

Now, I wanted to get something straight. This blog is not meant to belittle film… or Netflix.  I  enjoy a good movie, or a suspenseful TV series, (in fact, I had to quit a series mid-way into it’s second season when I canceled my Netflix account). But the thing is, I was always left hanging… there is a time and place for everything, and always a time to watch a good movie, but on the other hand, I  it’s time to start making good movies, instead of just watching them. Anything in excess can lead your life into unbalance; movies, video games, friends over family, etc. And right now I’m trying to make up for lost time spent in front of the T.V. screen.

Read more

Day 3: Anyone Can Learn To Code

The first course which I’ve been taking on is PHP With MySQL Essential Training. It’s a 14 hour course that dives into the history, and foundations of PHP, as well as the connectivity of MySQL with PHP, and the uses the two can have when working together.

What Is PHP

PHP is a server-sided web development language, meaning that it is independent of the user’s personal computer and browser. If a user who was browsing a webpage which had PHP coded into it, shutting down the web browser, or turning off the computer would not affect the PHP code, because it’s being run on a server independent from the user’s personal computer.

What Is MySQL

MySQL is one of the world’s most widely used open-source database management systems. A database management system is much like an excel spreadsheet, but instead of dealing with numbers (which is what spreadsheets are great for), a database deals with data. Data is stored information. It could be your account balance in your bank account, the photos you uploaded to Facebook, or the text messages that are stored “in the cloud.”

Read more

Day 1: How Bored Are You?

Today is the 1st day of my 90 day challenge.

I don’t know about you, but the truth is, I get bored sometimes; in between going to work, meeting with friends, attending church, the odd family gathering. There are times when I have to actually stop, think, and ask myself “what do I actually want to do right now?”

What Do You Do When You’re Bored

The truth is, you can get bored when you occupy your time with something where you don’t have to think anymore. The week you first learn to hammer nails in a roof might be an extremely intellectually satisfying experience, a task which challenges you and builds your own personal skill set, but when you catch yourself thinking “I could do this blindfolded.” It is at that moment that boredom sets in.

Now, you can get bored when you’re at work or with friends; and that does say something about the thing you’re doing at the moment. But what is it that you run to when you get to finally choose something that YOU want to do? When there is no escaping the boredom? Say you’re standing at the bus stop, and you naturally pull out your phone to go on Facebook. Or you’re free for a couple of minutes at work, and you check the weather, or something mundane that you don’t even remember 10 seconds later.

Read more