Thursday, July 10, 2014

Babysitting Machines

I'm a parent. I'm used to child care--both the kind where you're actively involved and the kind where you're just there doing your thing, but there so that if the child in question needs your help, you're there. I'm pretty good with either.

I became aware this morning that I was babysitting a machine.

I should explain. You see, I like editing at home. Well, at least sometimes, when it is for a project that at least keeps me interested and at most gives me joy. The thing about editing at home is that there is no middle-of-the-night assistant or media manager who sets things up for you. There is no one who ingests all the footage when you start or renders and outputs the final product when you are done. Editing at home means you're generally doing it all.

Thus, I found myself this morning, as my edit system converted several hundred files for my project, watching that little percentage bar move for clip after clip after clip. After clip. Did it need me? Not really. But if it hit a glitch, stopped for no reason, or needed first aid, or just a little jolt, I would be there. It's not that I didn't do other things. But I did find myself drawn to its progress, and protective of its actions, much as I would if I were looking after a child. Would someone trip over a cord and cause irreparable damage? Would a switch be flipped and change the whole course of the project? Would something overheat and create a hazard? None of these things is really so different from the process of taking care of a child, is it?

And yet, while I am quite accustomed to looking out for kids, I felt a little silly babysitting a machine.

The thing is, sometimes the babysitting is what it takes in order to get to the exciting part of editing. Just as parenthood includes both the exhilaration of first steps and first words and the responsibility of getting kids to brush their teeth, editing (like many jobs, frankly) includes both the creative and the mundane. And so I sit, babysitting my machine until it's ready to take the first step and render the first word. And produce the moments that will make me laugh and cry.

It's a lot like parenthood--and it's definitely worth it.

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