A Public Statement on My Relationships and Recent Writings

Due to my recent writings, my thoughts and activities have come under much greater scrutiny. I think it is important that I fully disclose my involvement with technology companies as well as much of my day to day existence.

What is Your Primary Job?

The primary focus of my activities is as the owner of a production company in the Washington, DC area. I started the company in 1999. I have built my company’s infrastructure around Final Cut Pro and have used Adobe Photoshop and After Effects extensively. We also use a lot of other software tools as well.

Our storage networks are primarily Drobo. We use mostly Panasonic cameras and shoot to P2. We do use a lot of DSLR equipment (both from Canon and Nikon). We use AJA hardware for the most part. We are 80% + Mac shop, but we do have some Dell computers (as well as Windows installed on several Macs).

What Other Jobs Do You Hold?

I come from a family of teachers. I have taught university. I have taught online. I have taught at conferences. I usually get paid to teach, but I have spoken and done several free events. I have spoken at Apple stores (both paid and for free). I have worked at Apple’s booth at NAB. I have spoken at Adobe’s booth there too. Both of those positions were unpaid (though Apple covered my expenses, lodging, and airfare).

The bulk of my training has been around teaching video pros and photographers. I have an obsession with slide presentations (and a passion for Apple Keynote). My goal with training has first and foremost been to help people. My secondary goal has been to earn money to support my family. It is an economic reality that I need to make money for my teaching as it takes me away from my company.

Over the last ten years I have written approximately 30 books. These have been predominantly on Apple and Adobe software. I have also written about web video, DSLR video, workflow, and even PowerPoint.

I have made money as a podcaster for Creative COW. I have also been paid to blog by ProVideo Coalition. I have been hired to write for DV magazine, Creative COW magazine, Photoshop User, and Mac Design.

In 10 years, I have been fairly visible. The revenue I make is sufficient (although I certainly cannot quit my day job if I wanted to support my family). I have rarely been supported by advertisers or sponsors. I have made enough money from my training efforts to justify the time and effort (as well as to release hundreds of free podcasts and thousands of blog and forum posts).

Which Companies Have Hired You Recently?

I have been hired by the following companies to produce training or do video production services. This list is in alphabetical order for ease of use.

  • Adobe
  • Apple
  • Creative COW
  • Drobo
  • Focal Press
  • Kelby Training
  • Pearson Education

I have been approached by several others. I have turned down advertisements on my blog.

I have received products from many companies through the years. This ranges from software to review, to products to test. This list is not complete (as I cannot remember everything at my age). These groups have supported my efforts and training with equipment loans, not for resale software, etc. Most of these items are loaned, and have to be returned upon request. Again in alphabetical order.

  • Adobe
  • AJA
  • Apple
  • Artbeats
  • Dell
  • Digital Anarchy
  • Drobo
  • G-Tech
  • Hoodman
  • Matrox
  • Redrock Micro
  • Red Giant
  • Singular Software
  • Wacom
  • Zacuto

What Do You Edit With? 

I started on Avid at KCCI television in Des Moines, IA. Paid for my own classes out of my own pocket and learned it. I actively edited on Avid for about 7 years. I was an Avid editor at dhg Productions and PCI Communications. Also freelanced using Avid for several years (and still have a respect for the product today).

I started with Final Cut Pro on version 1. I still use it a whole lot (and it is the most popular application with our clients). My company did 90% of its editorial work in Final Cut Pro last year. We are migrating new projects to Adobe Premiere Pro in most cases, but have many clients and existing projects that will need to stay in Final Cut Pro 7.

I decided to get over my snobbishness and learn Adobe Premiere Pro about 2 years ago. I struggled, I whined, I complained. Then it got better. I used it for all my DSLR workflow starting with CS5. I’ve now switched to using it about 50% of the time for my work, and I am excited by the growth I see.

My own company is in the middle of being retrained. Like many things related to video workflow, I wrote it down and sell it as a book. If you buy it... I make 50¢. Let’s just say I live off my client work — my book writing is a bad addiction spurned by being bred from a family with 14 teachers in it.

Do You Have an Agenda? 

Heck no. I consider NLE choice like religion. That’s up to you. Except when it’s not. Like a client demands, or the shop you work for switches. I helped a lot of Avid editors learn Final Cut Pro (I mean A LOT). I’ve also started helping Avid and FCP users learn Premiere Pro. Use the tool you like if it’s up to you.

If you freelance... know all three (more money). If your job requires you to learn a new tool, do so. I regularly post links to great trainers, conferences, and educational products (not just my stuff).

I use what the job or the client demands. Do I like Adobe... yes I like where they are going and find it reassuring that they lay out a clear roadmap. I also commend Avid for being much clearer about where they are going and opening up support for AJA hardware, etc.

What I would like Apple to do is communicate its vision with words (not just software releases). I’d like to have time to transition and see both roads stay open while the bridge is under construction. As a pro, I cannot accept dramatic interruptions in my workflow. It saddens me that it is easier to migrate to other manufacturers and keep my Mac computers and AJA hardware working, than it is to migrate to the shipping version of Final Cut Pro X.

Do You Hate Apple/FCPX? 

Absolutely not. When I launched my company I was faced with taking out a second mortgage for an NLE or trying Final Cut Pro. I have been there since version 1. I built my company using Apple hardware and software from Apple and Adobe.

To this day I use both heavily. If you have any doubt.... look at the Final Cut Pro podcasts on Creative COW. I think it's a great tool for some users, really. But its not what I hoped for as it stands now.

I am currently working on training for photographers who want to edit DSLR material in FCPX. I am happy with it for that use, as I know it will be approachable to many photographers who find “traditional editing” confusing. If you like FCPX, I am genuinely happy for you. Getting new software should feel like birthday presents for a six-year old.

Do You Have Agreements with Companies?

I have multiple non-disclosure agreements and I honor them. I have never disclosed details about one manufacturer to another. I have (to the best of my knowledge) never disclosed anything improper to end users. This agreements are a necessity as they give me advanced access to the tools we all use.

This advance access lets me figure out problems. Some companies use this feedback and make their products better. I also can work on training products so they can be ready when the application ships (or as close to possible). These agreements are entered in so I can create a product that is ready when you need it.

My opinions have never been bought. I have never been told what to say. I have never colluded with a company to change the opinion of the market. I have been hired by companies to help them understand the end user. I have written and produced as well as reviewed and commented on efforts that impact the professional video industry.

Why are You so Vocal Now?

I have always tried to be fair in my opinions. And I always try to give software developers helpful feedback about their tools. I have been blogging for more than 5 years and release approximately 5 posts a week. I’m also active on Facebook and Twitter as well as contribute to several photography and Photoshop blogs.

My opinions raised through my writings and podcasts on the Final Cut Pro X release have been from the point of view of a facility owner who now has to retrain his own staff. I am also frustrated that my investment in hardware and training is currently being wasted by a product that seems to ignore both.

I am vocal because there has not been a clear public statement about the issues many pros are raising. I am vocal because there is not a shared plan to address migration. I am vocal because ten years of my company’s work is frozen to an application that may or may not run in the future.

As a trainer and author... these are good times. Lots of work and consulting to do.

  • I recently released a book on Premiere Pro for migrating editors. I had no inside knowledge on Apple’s plans. I decided to diversity my company and cross-train my employees.
  • I am currently writing two books on video editing for DSLR photographers. One is on Final Cut Pro X while the other is on Premiere Pro. I truly believe that both are great products for this segment of the professional workforce.
  • I have had lots of demands from both Apple and Adobe users to help them with problems. If you look at the training products I’ve released in the last 3 years you will see my focus has always been on collaboration. Helping pros and emerging pros to get their jobs done has been my goal.
  • I also weave business ethics and best practices into most of my content as I genuinely want to see our industry succeed.

In Conclusion

I hope this post does three things.

  • First, I have a legal obligation to reveal my professional relationships.
  • Second, I hope it helps readers and listeners understand my motivations.
  • Third, I would like the industry and Apple to engage in meaningful and professional conversations to ensure the long term health of the professional video industry.

These are challenging times. The economy is rough and competition is high. Please continue the debate with respect and integrity. Choose what is right for you. My opinions are not very important, I will be here to help in whatever way I can with the knowledge and skills I have built through the years.

Richard M. Harrington, PMP