video editing on computer - Crew Connection

What Makes a Great Video Editor

What Makes a Great Video Editor 5736 3328 Dani Lyman

“It’s the editor who orchestrates the rhythm of the images, and that is the rhythm of the dialogue, and of course the rhythm of the music. For me, the editor is like a musician, and often a composer.” – Martin Scorcese


In the video industry, everyone knows the edit can make or break a project. You can hire the best production team in the world, but if your editor doesn’t understand both the technology and the art of editing, you’re out of luck. A bad edit can leave a viewer cringing and can cost more in re-edits than it’s worth.

So, what can you do to make sure you’ve hired the best of the best to edit your latest piece? I chatted with professional freelance editor and longtime Crew Connection Crew, Jeff Drake, about his vast career and what he believes makes an excellent editor.


The Vision

“When I first saw Avid Media Composer, I knew non-linear editing was what I wanted to be doing.” Drake’s editing journey began when post-production meant using tape machines and a switcher. The introduction to editing software was a complete game-changer for his career. “It allowed me to be faster and more creative and inspired me to constantly learn new technology in order to elevate the level of my work.”

That level of elevated work has allowed Drake to be fortunate enough to edit for major companies like ESPN, Wells Fargo, Toyota and Victoria’s Secret, to name just a few. His experience, accompanied by his humble and professional approach, is what sets him apart from amateur editors who may understand the technology, but not the business of editing. “Most directors and producers have a vision and it’s my job to fulfill that vision first. I always aim to bring something to the table and make the final project better than the client anticipated.”



The Business

Putting one’s artistic ego aside and focusing on delivering the client’s vision isn’t always easy, but it is a paramount trait in a sought-after editor. Creative personalities can often clash, but Drake believes forcing his perspective on a client is the opposite of what he’s been hired to do. “I will defend my creative decisions, but only once because I want the person paying the bill to be really happy with how the project turns out.” In the end, he’s been hired to make the post-production process easier for the client. It isn’t personal.

Another way he manages to keep such a professional rapport with his clients is by working as a contractor, instead of an in-house editor. Drake reveals that working with various clients away from the office is one of the biggest benefits to his work. By staying out of office politics and avoiding distractions Drake says he can focus all his energy on delivering an excellent product. As a contractor, he can also bring a fresh perspective that sometimes in-house editors can’t provide.


The Final Product

Working behind the scenes can make it difficult for people to understand the artistry that goes into editing a project.  “Editing is creative control of the structure, pacing, and tone of any piece, no matter how complicated or simple.” Additionally,  a solid editor can work with powerful tools to manipulate mediocre images, improve audio or design motion graphics from a simple idea.

“I think editing is the single most important contribution to the overall feel and success of a project but, of course, I’m biased.” Drake may be joking, but this is the level of commitment and skill you want your editor to have. You want to trust your editor is giving 100% percent to seeing your vision succeed. That’s what separates an excellent editor from the rest.

disney ears | Crew Connection

How to trade in your tax visor for Disney ears

How to trade in your tax visor for Disney ears 8399 3628 Heidi McLean

Producing content is chaotic. In your media department, chances are you and your employees already wear too many hats. You don’t need to put on yet another one during tax season.

Would you prefer a vacation over running around tracking down addresses and other freelancer management tasks this tax season? Read on.


Hand over that lovely green tax visor and take a spring break instead. Here’s how:


1. Get in touch with our partner company PayReel.

PayReel was started when Crew Connection’s founder saw a need in the media industry for simplifying freelancer management. The PayReel team and its custom software instantly replace the paperwork involved with onboarding and paying freelancers while also keeping businesses compliant with federal, state, and local regulations such as paid sick leave and insurance. Chat with a real, live person when you contact PayReel at 303-526-4900 or by emailing us here.

Leave your payroll services and details up to PayReel so you can focus on pulling off a flawless production.


2. Hand over the paperwork and the risk.

A lot of productions often means a lot of temporary workers. And all those workers make for a not-so-magical mountain of paperwork. PayReel takes the burden out of onboarding as well as tracking and sending 1099s.

Speaking of those temporary workers, are you sure you’re the right person to classify all of them? It’s only your job and possibly your freedom on the line.

At PayReel, they talk about worker classification a lot. They even created a whole series on the subject. They take it seriously because the government does, too. Meaning they’re more than ready to find companies that get it wrong. But don’t worry, when you work with PayReel, their staff help you decide if the seven dwarves are eligible for full benefits and take the punishment if they’re ever wrong.


3. Get back to work.

With PayReel handling your freelancer management, you can get back to your production, or your Netflix binge, or even your spring break. Whatever you do, just don’t get back to worrying about tax management: PayReel makes tax season vacation season.


One more thing: There are certain career paths (like tax lawyering) that really require a special type of person. Unless you’re one of those, (which we’re not) you’re not legally allowed to give your employee’s tax advice. Send them to the IRS.



About PayReel

Juggling content production and freelancer management can get messy. PayReel makes sure their clients are able to hire who they want when they want and that everyone is paid properly. Leave all payroll services and freelancer management (even taxes) up to the PayReel team so you can focus on pulling off a flawless production. Contact PayReel anytime at 303-526-4900 or by emailing us here.

Relax. We got it.


independent contractor

A Freelance Camera Crew’s Guide to Success

A Freelance Camera Crew’s Guide to Success 800 536 Crew Connection

One of the best-known perks of freelancing is flexibility. But for a freelance camera crew member, all that freedom comes at a cost. Sourcing new clients, managing a hectic schedule, and staying up to date on your insurance requires discipline. Whether you’re a beginning freelance camera crew or part of the old guard, everyone can use a little help. That’s why we reached out to one of our favorite freelance camera operators Rodney Lane Butler to pass on some of his hard-earned advice.

Rodney’s Tips for A Freelance Camera Crew Member

1) Be early.

Though no one notices when you’re on time, everyone knows when you’re late. So always be early. That is, if you want to keep working. Bonus tip: Apply this advice to every part of your life—not just call time.

2) To get on a crewer’s preferred list, do good work. 

Edible Arrangements and a round of drinks alone won’t get a freelance camera crew more work. Great work gets you more work. Let your product speak for itself. When it does; crewers, directors, and producers will talk, too.

You’re only as good as your last job. Live sports and concerts are fun to shoot, but they’re unpredictable. You have to be on your toes 100 percent of the time. If you miss a moment, it’s gone. As Rodney says, “If you screw up three events in a row, they’re not booking you again.”

3) Join every hotel, rental car, and airline frequent whatever program! 

Reap the rewards while clients pay for expenses. Points and miles do accumulate! After 20 years in freelance media, Rodney rarely pays for personal flights, hotels, or car rentals.

4) Don’t pigeonhole yourself. 

We’ve probably all heard that complacency is the enemy of excellence. Don’t take the same gigs year in and year out because they’re easy and you don’t have to learn anything new. Make yourself available for new opportunities. If a last-minute shoot comes up—take it! You never know where it might lead.

For example, say your 10-year stint with NASCAR comes to an end when they move to another network and you don’t. Such a change can leave you high and dry if you haven’t kept your options open and your skills sharp.

5) Learn to say “No.” 

For Rodney, the flexibility of freelance media was the initial draw because it paid great and allowed him to spend time with his mom, who was fighting leukemia. He’s grateful for the time it provided with her before she passed away. However, flexibility can also pose a challenge. Rodney says the hardest part of his job is “knowing when to say no to jobs so you can create time for your family.”

Once you commit to a freelance job, you’re going to have a hard time replacing yourself on set—even if it means missing an important birthday or family vacation. Rodney’s advice? “Just don’t take it if you are iffy.”

Rodney Lane Butler has been a freelance cameraman in sports television production for nearly 20  years. Rodney has filmed live concerts—his favorite!—with bands like KISS and Aerosmith and sporting events including NASCAR, NHRA drag races, the NBA finals, the Stanley Cup finals, and a Super Bowl. He’s even filmed shows with cameos from Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama. He specializes in robotics, RF cameras, handhelds, and remote sports camera operations. Book Rodney at 704-724-6287 or

About Crew Connection:

Crew Connection connects you with media professionals—including the best freelance camera crew for your project— across the country and around the globe. With more than 25 years of experience and thousands of shoots with film crew pros to our credit, you can trust our expert coordinators to match you with the right freelance camera crew and equipment—every time.