Let me take you back to 2011. A magical time when the last Harry Potter film was released, the Twilight saga was still dragging on and Game of Thrones hit our screens for the first time.
It was also the year I joined the team at Revolution Viewing as a Photographer, travelling around the UK’s many universities and Homebuilder developments. With Will & Kate’s marriage and the resulting four-day bank holiday weekend, it was quite the time for a 24-year-old to be alive, I can tell you!
It’s hard to believe that was 10 years ago now. A lot has changed since then. The RV team has grown and so has my family. I’m now a Senior Multimedia Technician – and I can’t tell you just how many blue skies I’ve retouched or dirty roads I’ve replaced in Photoshop, but it’s definitely more than 10! I still make time for questionable TV shows and films though. Some things never change.
I thought I’d celebrate this milestone by sharing with you my personal top five tips in 10 years of working in digital media post production.
My top five tips
I’ve learnt so much over the years – but I’ve never really stopped to think about it that much up until now! As a multimedia technician and retouching specialist, my point-of-reference is quite specific – but I hope there’s things in here that are useful whatever your role. So here goes…
1. Clients: predictably unpredictable (in a good way)
A lot of things in life are unpredictable (just like that Game of Thrones ending). Working successfully with clients and briefs – with the outcome that everyone is happy – can be a bit of an art! Often, I’ll have a clear picture in my head of what I think the project will be like – but that picture could be slightly different to what the client was envisaging. Clearly defined briefs and communication are key for all involved. After all, we all have different perspectives which affect the way we see things. Projects and briefs can often change halfway through for many reasons – the real skill is being agile and adaptable in pursuit of the right solution and the best outcome.
Focus your efforts on solving the problems that at first seem too hard to overcome. I’ve done this a lot over the years. Most of the more complex retouching jobs have started with a personal desire to find a solution, improve myself and succeed. It can also be a great confidence booster when you do complete that task. Just make sure that the challenge you set yourself is within reach. A lot of the retouching examples you can see further down started out this way. So challenge yourself! You might be surprised at the outcome.
3. A logical and honest approach
Everytime I start a project, I try to think of all the steps I will need to take to get it right first time. For example: if I’m working on a series of photos of a new home and the road in front of it is covered in JCB tyre tracks, it’s going to need retouching. To get it looking like clean, fresh tarmac, I will first need to select the right photo, find a replacement surface from a stock image library and then blend the two images – taking into account things like lighting and perspective. It seems obvious, but taking a logical approach helps you to break down a project into more manageable chunks. But you also have to be honest with yourself too. As much as I like a challenge, sometimes there are things that just cannot be done – or at least not to the standard required within the time or budget you’re working with. Setting expectations rather than over-committing is so important and another part of being logical and honest in what you do.
4. Reference material
I have a whole bookmark folder full of links to Youtube tutorials and blogs that I have found interesting and useful. You can only remember so much. Having somewhere you know you can go to either brush up on your skills – or to reference a particular technique – is vital. There’s countless great Youtube channels around, lots of which I subscribe to. And don’t forget to stay abreast of the types of software you rely on as well – there’s nothing more annoying than that tool you use suddenly vanishing after the latest update.
Never underestimate the power of working with great people and how they can have a positive impact on your work and what you do. Whether you’re a specialist with one major client – or work as part of a big team in a busy environment – working more like a team of friends can make everything a lot easier whilst having some fun along the way! Getting a fresh set of eyes and an honest opinion on something is always really valuable too.
The last word
Well there you have it! Five tips from 10 great years at Revolution Viewing. If you ever want to pick my brain about image retouching, our video and photography solutions for Home Builders, or how awesome life was in 2011 – get in touch. Thanks to all the clients and colleagues I’ve worked with over the years – and here’s to 10 more!