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How Video Editors Can Gain Superpowers - Premiere Gal Kelsey Brannan

By Adam Korenman

Video editors need to learn these powerful motion design tools to stay competitive

As if being a video editor wasn't enough, now you need to learn motion design? Even if you are studio-based, there are constantly new tricks to learn and master just inside your editing platform. How can you find the time to add visual effects and motion graphics to your tool belt? Is it possible to become a Jack(ette) of All Trades ... or will you just be a Master of None?
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Kelsey Brannan, better known as Premiere Gal, wondered if she could find the time to elevate her skills and learn new tools while still juggling full-time work. As she explored the wealth of free knowledge available on YouTube, she found a new passion in sharing her experience with the community.
As she explored the content available, she began to add more and more tricks and tools to her belt ... and saw her passion turn into an incredibly popular YouTube channel. Already proficient in Premiere Pro, so started to dabble—and eventually excel— in After Effects as well as other post-production tools and plugins. She became a "Jackette of All Trades." Now she feels that more video editors should feel confident exploring motion graphics as a superpower to add to their skills.
Watch out for radioactive spiders, toxic waste, and gamma radiation. We're learning how to become powerful heroes in this can't-miss talk with Kelsey Brannan.

How Video Editors Can Gain Superpowers - Premiere Gal Kelsey Brannan

Show Notes

Artists
Pieces
Tools
Resources

Transcript

Kyle Hamrick:
I'm super excited to be chatting today with Kelsey Brannan, who you might know as her alter ego, Premiere Gal. Kelsey spent hears as a Jackette of all trades or the much cooler sounding, shreditor, as she puts it before starting a wildly successful YouTube channel where she creates awesome tutorials on editing and special effects using Premiere, Photoshop ,and After Effects as well as gear, shooting, audio techniques and more. In this episode we'll talk about why today's video editor really needs to get serious about adding even just a little bit of After Effects into their repertoire. We'll probably also get a little nerdy about motion graphics templates and old school film theory.
Kyle Hamrick:
Hey Kelsey. Thank you so much for joining us today. For the unfortunate few who don't already know you a little bit, kind of tell us a little bit about who you are, what you do.
Kelsey Brannan:
Sure. Thanks for having me Kyle. Always a pleasure catching up. I know it's virtual. But yeah, if you guys haven't checked out my work, Premiere Gal is the YouTube channel that I started when I was working full-time as a shreditor. I like to call it shooter editor producer. It's kind of like that standard role that a lot of people have to fit into. And I found in that role I had to google and do a lot of stuff to figure out how to do specific effects. So I was doing motion graphics, I was doing the editing, I was doing the shooting. So I had to learn how to come a jackettee of all trades. And doing that I found sometimes it was really hard to find resources and I would discover solutions to problems. Because of the shared economy and I've seen people have successful YouTube tutorials why not share the knowledge that I have? And fast forward five years later it's now my full-time thing and I post tutorials on Premiere Pro, After Effects on the Premiere Gal channel. I know it started as Premiere Gal but I do give other tips to other Adobe software and some general tips as well.
Kelsey Brannan:
So I try to post weekly videos. I'm really fortunate to work with lots of partners and I have a Patreon community that helps support the channel. And yeah, that's pretty much what I do. It fills up my time. I haven't had much time for freelance projects at the moment but my dream going forward is to edit a show for Netflix. So right now I'm trying to put my energy into that and be like I want to do something like that that I can talk about on the channel.
Kyle Hamrick:
Cool. Well we've put it out there to the universe now so maybe someone who's listening can make that happen. Well, that's awesome. I knew a while ago that you had been able to lean into your YouTube channel full-time so I'm glad that that's still the case and still going well there. Your channel is awesome. Like you said, you kind of touch Premiere and After Effects and Photoshop and gear and just like general workflow and all kinds of awesome stuff. And it's cool to see ... I'm kind of a jack of all trades sort of person too and it's cool to see other people who can be good at all those things but also be good at being able to talk about them which I think is maybe a rarer skill than people give it credit for. I came up with a pun that I wanted to say and now I've totally not given myself any intro for it but you are indeed the premiere place to get such information, right?
Kelsey Brannan:
That is correct. I like to say it is an adjective. The premiere of the Premiere Gal so. Thank you for that. I think that it takes time to talk about these things too. Right now my process is highly scripted. When I first started out I kind of was writing a guideline and I just kind of winged it. But I felt like through the ... The one benefit of having a YouTube channel is you get feedback directly from your community and on one hand you want it to be natural, you want it to be candid, and on the other hand you want it to hit these specific talking points. So that way it's a high production quality and people are able to follow it well. So a lot of times I'm literally scripting everything out and I'll actually read what I wrote for like the step by step direct to the ... And then I'll up at the camera and say, so here we're going to talk about this and that. And I kind of explain it more on camera and then I go back down to reading from my iPhone. Because it's just an easier workflow for me. I find that I'm able to describe things.
Kelsey Brannan:
I really like to explain things well. Like a scientific method. I don't know. I guess I'm kind of obsessed with this is how you do it. If somebody skips a step I'm like wait but that was so important. How could you leave that out? Yeah. So you practice with time and then as we were talking about it before, you start to take those ums out and those uhs out and of course you can edit YouTube videos and get that stuff out. But I think it's important to leave some of that natural things in there to connect with the audience.
Kyle Hamrick:
I've found that my tutorial process sounds very similar too. I end up scripting things. A lot of it's just like if you have a specific timeframe you're trying to hit. You want to be sure that you hit all the points without going over which is really easy to do if you're just kind of meandering through it.
Kelsey Brannan:
Oh totally. I mean you could go on a tangent about how to open up a particular keyboard shortcut and say, "Oh by the way, the transparency grid isn't on so you can click this button." And it's like, do I need to say that? Is it for this particular audience? So it's like you have to think about what you can leave in, what you can leave out. But that's all the nitty gritty stuff.
Kyle Hamrick:
Being mindful about your audience I think is kind of a lot of what we're going to be talking about today. I wanted to kind of mention something that I've noticed a lot at least lately is that you post on Twitter like, "Hey, does anyone know how to add to audio to Mogrts?", or, "Hey, does anyone know how they did this trippy zoom effect in this show?" And then four days later, "Here's my new tutorial on how to do that thing." It's interesting seeing you muse about these things and then clearly sometimes you're like I'll just figure it out.
Kelsey Brannan:
Yeah. Absolutely. I think sometimes ... I mean we're a community. As I said in the beginning, I started off by googling and trying to figure stuff out. It's funny that you mention that because I recalled with the Mogrt ones I was using this pack from Motioncan. It's a graphics pack that I use in Premiere Pro for a lot of my tutorial arrows and transitions. And a few of them when you drag them in the timeline it comes with a sound effects file. And I was like is that some sort of special thing that he does? And it turns out you just actually add the file in the After Effects timeline and it just comes with it. Such a basic thing and I actually reached out to Motioncan directly after that because I don't think anybody had an answer on Twitter. And yeah, some people have the tips and I'm just the messenger. I'm like sharing it out and hopefully people will find interesting. And I find a lot of the content too I have to ... Because it is my full-time job and I do have sponsors for each tutorial I have to think of ideas that I'm interested in but then how to connect it with a sponsor.
Kelsey Brannan:
So I think for that one it was a sound sponsor. I can't remember which one it was. But it just made sense to make something related to sound. And the Sex Education one, I love that show. I think it's fantastic. And if you haven't watched it yet it's just ... I'm so sad that I finished season three. I get so attached to these characters. So I think I'm just creating tutorials now because I don't want to let go of it or wait for season four to come out. But yeah, actually I gave a shout out to Tony C. He actually did a screen recording of what he thought was the right process and he shared it with me. I was like dude, that's so awesome. So I gave him a shout out in the tutorial and then I just added a few more of my own I guess tips that I discovered through the process of making this bus expand back. Like somebody has taken mushrooms. If you guys are listening to this I'm talking about the scene in Sex Education. It's not really a spoiler. It's just a scene where two students take mushrooms on the back of the bus and just the effects are pretty hilarious and it really stuck out to me so I tried to recreate that.
Kyle Hamrick:
Yeah. And that on in particular. You've done this a lot but one thing I really enjoy is that you're giving a lot of information but you're also not afraid to be silly with a lot of these.
Kelsey Brannan:
Let's get trippy.
Kyle Hamrick:
Yeah. Making yourself like a goofy character for the tutorial and things like that which is good.
Kelsey Brannan:
Yeah. And that's totally who I am. And growing up I was actually the class clown in high school. Although I've become more serious like professional Premiere Gal sometimes. I'm still at my heart this silly goon that just wants to do funny voices and hang out with my friends and just chill. So I'm trying to get that in there because I think at the end of the day you're just talking with your friends. At least that's what I hope to achieve. I hope that people feel that.
Kyle Hamrick:
I feel like you mostly do. Let's maybe talk about editing a bit here. So you said you were a shreditor for a long time. At some point ... Maybe you never really decided to kind of specialize but obviously editing is kind of one of the central unifying things of all the stuff that you do. How did you learn editing? What did you start out on?
Kelsey Brannan:
Yeah. Well I think I've always clung to software and figuring things out. When I was in high school I was in a public high school in the bay area of California and they had this media academy and we were able to learn on one of the first Final Cuts. So this is when ... I graduated high school in 2007. So there was still the Final Cut Pro five or six we were using. And we were able to film projects for some of our school projects. So for example if we read a book in English because of the media academy we had a technology class and we could do kind of like a visual report and work in groups and create media projects. And when I was inside of the software you couldn't peel me away. All day people were like, "Oh yeah, let's go hang out after school. Let's go get a snack." I'm like, "I'm going to be in the software. What are you talking about?" I would go into the technology lab and just sit there and like become obsessed with different effects and stuff. I think then I knew I was like, I think I want to do something in post production because I love the control and I'm kind of ... While I am a social person I'm also very introverted and I love to just figure things out on my own.
Kelsey Brannan:
Of course still collaborate with people. It's still important. And then from there I worked with my technology teacher and was like, I think I want to apply to college with film and media studies. I went to UC Santa Barbara and it was film and media studies so we did a lot of historical research on filmmaking. A lot of deep stuff on philosophy and kind of film theory. And I also was able to focus on production component and I was doing some editing projects and I always wanted to be the editor and that was kind of my focus and that was what I felt comfortable with and that's kind of how I fell into editing as sort of my go to rather than being like oh, I'm going to be the person behind the camera.
Kyle Hamrick:
You talked about software quite a bit and obviously we're going to be talking about kind of different softwares and why they're important. But I think those of us that have been doing this a while know that ultimately the software is just a tool and you can know Premiere really well but do you maybe have any particular epiphany moment where you realized that you'd kind of learned how to edit and not just use Final Cut or use Premiere or whatever?
Kelsey Brannan:
I think it's kind of like from the part of just putting a bunch of clips together versus actually improving the story. I think there was a moment where I realized ... It happened simultaneously as I was learning how to become a better writer in college. Where you take out all the redundancies and you have to cut off an arm or a leg or you have to go and change something or you have to bring in ... Like for documentary footage for example if you need to hit another target audience you need to bring in other subjects in that documentary that that target audience will relate to. And I think at that point somewhere in college, grad school maybe too, I was like okay, I need to figure out how to just trim out this part so it makes more sense to show this perspective in a different way. It wasn't just putting clips in a timeline, cool effect. It was like building that story and trying to get that message across. Because at the end of the day it is about that story. And while all I'm really doing right now is effects tutorials I think at the end of the day when I was doing short films as a shreditor it was really about finding those key moments. Those moments that spoke to the message because I was also the producer.
Kelsey Brannan:
I wasn't just the editor of those films. I had to find okay, what's the key message that the people that are approving this want in this video? And that's I think really editing. Is really putting together the story. That's editing.
Kyle Hamrick:
Yeah. It's very much writing honestly. Like kind of pre writing things. Although sometimes you don't have control over what the things are that you're getting. So it's sort of an interesting creative problem solving thing. But you were kind of circling around a little bit when you were just talking about your tutorial process before. Because I think editors think that way even when you're scripting things out because you're already thinking about how it needs to fit together and be concise and flow properly which is very much editor mindset.
Kelsey Brannan:
Exactly. I call it my editing script actually. Because I started working with a few freelance editors to help me with editing the tutorial so I'll write my notes in there and I'll put like transition two. So it's almost like a written script. Just what I'm thinking would make sense for that particular shot. Of course, I want the editors that are working on it to also have fun with their story too but with tutorials it's a little bit more like ... What is it called? Boiler plate?
Kyle Hamrick:
Yeah.
Kelsey Brannan:
Where you kind of have all the graphics ready with a little bit of room for improvisation.
Kyle Hamrick:
So we probably have a lot of motion designers listening to this who kind of edit. Pro some of them are editing in After Effects which let's just say, please stop doing that. Are there any tips that you could give them to kind of just be in a little bit more of an editing mindset? Especially if they maybe came from more of a design background or something like that. And maybe also just like realize that Premiere isn't scary.
Kelsey Brannan:
Yes. So actually it's funny that you said that because I remember I was walking the halls in my old job and there was this director that walked by of this digital program and he's like, "What are you guys using to edit with?" And I was like, "Pretty much Premiere." And he's like, "Really? Because everybody on my team is editing fully in After Effects." And I looked at him and I was like, "What? Like even the sound and everything?" And he was like, "Yeah." And I was like, "Are you sure?" And that was kind of the end of the conversation and I didn't bring it up again. I didn't bring it up again. But I think he's probably seen a lot of like ... Because they did a lot of short teasers too and I think for like 30 seconds or 15 second videos I think it's completely fine to use After Effects. As long as you make sure to go in and like make sure the audio levels are okay and it's a little bit more clunky in After Effects to open up the audio files. Premiere is just like you can kind of do everything.
Kyle Hamrick:
That's a generous way to phrase it.
Kelsey Brannan:
I'm always an optimist looking on the bright side of things. If I can get it done then it's okay. And I think if you're wondering should I jump into Premiere Pro, it's just a little bit different of a layout. It's kind of frustrating to do key framing and motion graphics. So I think what I like to say is like Premiere is kind of the hub for all of the graphics. Whether it's Photoshop files, Illustrator files, audio files, dynamically linked comps that you take. What generally I do is I duplicate the clip in Premiere Pro so I always have the original. And then I'll dynamically link it if I want to do some rotoscoping. Talking to you Motion designers I'm learning After Effects as I go along and I've kind of always had my toes in it. Probably since like 2009 I've been in After Effects. But not seriously understanding how rotoscoping and tracking works. I know we were talking about how it's kind of like you need to know some basics in Premiere if you're a Motion designer and then if you're an editor you also need to know these basics in After Effects because you can't really exclude them in today's age I feel like with our editing projects. At least for me.
Kyle Hamrick:
I totally agree. And you just created the segue to the next question. Obviously there are specialties where you can certainly exist without ever touching After Effects but it seems like in my mind, being an "editor" already means that you are cutting, you're doing some degree of project management hopefully so your things aren't a complete mess. You're probably doing color. You're probably doing audio. And even if you have a designer you have to know at least a little something about adding titles if nothing else. And I think it'd be really hard to no zero After Effects as a "editor".
Kelsey Brannan:
I think it's just important to put yourself in that person's shoes. So if you know how After Effects works, you know what that motion designer needs if you're working with them. If you're a motion designer and you know some Premiere basics you'll know what that editor needs. And I think it's important to have just that basic knowledge. I'm working with an editor right now where her specialty was primarily in Motion graphics so this is actually a great example and she's a fantastic Motion designer and she's just learning Premiere Pro as we go. And she was great. The only thing that she's really needed help with is sound and just a little bit with color and some work arounds with key framing. Because key framing in Premiere Pro, I actually gave her the plug in Motion Tween by Film Impact. It's a huge time saver. I mean I use it every single tutorial. I know it's a plug and I'm not plugging it because I'm trying to promote it or anything it's just I literally use it in ever video. You just drag and drop it.
Kyle Hamrick:
Yeah. It's pretty great.
Kelsey Brannan:
Yeah. You know what it is.
Kyle Hamrick:
Yeah.
Kelsey Brannan:
So like if you guys don't know how it works, essentially normally when you key frame you're setting your starting key frame and then you're going to the end with a play head and then you're scaling it up. But if you ever adjust that clip in Premiere Pro you may cut over that key frame and it screws up the whole timeline. So the way that Motion Tween works is you make a cut at where you want that animation kind of to start or in the middle and then that next clip you can like scale it up using the effect controls. And then you just drag this transition between and it just smoothly moves between them. Of course, you have to add the compost rendering to it from effect controls but once you get the hang of it, it's just a time saver. So yeah, just little things like that make it so motion designers can really just become great editors quickly through practice.
Kyle Hamrick:
So you said you've kind of been learning After Effects as you went which is ... I do hear that from a lot of people. And just to sort of make the point, you don't necessarily need to be an expert in something to teach it. You just need to know enough to teach that thing. But I often hear from editors or people just coming into it that After Effects is very intimidating to start in. And sounds like you're not too far away from remembering when it was intimidating or maybe parts of it still are. Do you sort of still think that or do you kind of remember that vibe or have any thoughts about that?
Kelsey Brannan:
I think I know what the fear is like for sure and you can get into a negative mindset where you're like, "Oh I'm never going to get there because I have so much other work to do. When am I going to have time to sit down and learn something?" So I totally empathize with that and I remember what that was like. But you have to face your fear direct on and that's what I wanted to do. I wanted a challenge. Because I know Premiere Pro pretty well. Of course there's things that I'm still learning all the time. But I was like, I need to just sit down and just challenge myself and that's why I started doing a lot of After Effects tutorials and I'm learning through that process too. I mean not one person knows everything, right? So by doing that, by teaching you actually learn more. And so now I'm comfortable with like After Effects camera, rotoscoping, tracking with Mocha. Of course there's still some other stuff that is super intimidating for me like ... What is it? Like head replacements. And this stuff might not even be for After Effects necessarily. There's other tools that are used for that. But more advanced Mocha Pro tracking is something that I'd like to get more into. But I can empathize with that fear.
Kyle Hamrick:
Is there a specific tool in After Effects that you've tried and just couldn't grasp? Or I guess maybe to twist that a little bit, you thought was going to be really scary and then you mastered it and it felt awesome?
Kelsey Brannan:
The one that I thought was going to be more difficult was motion tracking screen replacements and then it wasn't that hard at all. It was actually pretty easy. And also using just the built in Mocha AE to get text. Because what happens, there's this weird distortion that happens if it's not the same size as the frame. It's really hard to describe actually and I'm still kind of confused at why it doesn't work. But you have to change the distortion and the character width and play around with all these controls until it gets right. But once you create those pathways kind of like riding a bike you start to get how it works. And then there's something that is still scary for me. So I think when I was first working with some of the Boris effects tools the beauty studio plugin. At first I was like, how does this work? And I actually did a call with the team. And they were super helpful in describing how to use the face mask map. So that way if you want to create a nice digital makeup on your face, if people have blemishes you can add like subtle digital makeup. And I was like what? You can do that?
Kelsey Brannan:
And After Effects, they just show me how to select the color and also create tracking masks around the eyes so that way the smoothing doesn't affect the sharpness of the eyes and the mouth and the eyebrows too I guess. And so I was like whoa, you can do this. And it's like at first that was kind of intimidating. Having to do like masks around eyebrows and I'm just an editor shreditor. I'm like, why am I getting into the weeds of this beauty effect? But it was really cool to learn and I think that's one true joy of the job that I have is I'm learning these new tools all the time. I know it's not a built in effect in After Effects and I know there are ways to do it without a plugin. And I guess that's kind of intimidating for me. Like how would I do it without the plugin? I don't even know if it's possible. But probably it is. And I guess that's something that I would like to do is try to do more things that don't require a starting point with a plugin.
Kyle Hamrick:
So a lot of editors I think in particular who are kind of coming to After Effects for some of these compositing things, stuff like that and they realize they need to do a little bit of title work and stuff, did you kind of have a moment where you maybe realized ... Because I definitely had this moment. Where I realized, I maybe need to learn a little something about design too. Because I started realizing that my titles in particular did not look good.
Kelsey Brannan:
Yeah. Some thumbnails that I think are absolutely crap on my channel end up doing so well and I'm like what the heck?
Kyle Hamrick:
Well, that's YouTube. That's a different conversation.
Kelsey Brannan:
That's YouTube. That's a whole nother thing. But yes, design is super important. I didn't study design but I've always been aware of it. I know what good design looks like now from having to work in some marketing teams and my experience working with great graphic designers. I'm like oh yeah, they know what they're doing. And I love it when the designers also know what I need as well. And actually in my shreditor job that I worked we had a team. It was a digital team and I was one of the video producers. We had social media producers and then we had graphic designers. We would share color themes with each other through the Adobe Creative Cloud. And I told them that I could use an AE file for example. Not AE file. I pronounce it ... Because I'm in Poland right now and I pronounce it Illustrator.
Kelsey Brannan:
So in Poland they the I letter is pronounced E. So I said AE because I was thinking about the Illustrator file. Anyway, so the Illustrator files I can use in Premiere Pro and just explaining it to them how it works and then I would actually ... I know I'm segueing here into something else. But I would create motion graphics templates. This is when it first came out. The idea of a motion graphics template and I was like, this is great. I was able to create something. So that way the social producers who have no video experience, they were literally just creating the posts to share the videos on Facebook and Twitter. I was able to create motion graphics templates so they can then edit in Premiere themselves.
Kelsey Brannan:
So we're talking people that are not motion designers but people that come from like a writing background and marketing background to make editing easier for them. So I always love how everything works together and everybody on that team kind of had an idea of like what I needed and what the graphic designer needed. And I'm still kind of thinking that way even though I don't work on a big team anymore. It's still super important to think about design elements and even reach out to people if you're interested in learning. I know that there's some great channels on design. I think PiXimperfect is great in Photoshop if you want to learn more about like Photoshop effects. And then what's her face's design. Charli ... I forget her last name. She's from New Zealand and she's great. She has some great design tips. I'm always trying to improve it.
Kyle Hamrick:
I'm sure we'll look it up and link to her. I know one of the things I found from finally learning some design stuff actually from School Of Motion before I worked here is that there are a lot of things I was doing because I kind of knew other people were doing it. But being able to be intentional about those choices instead of spending three hours kind of like circling around something that I didn't quite know how to do. That was one of the biggest things for me.
Kelsey Brannan:
Yes. Yeah, for sure. It's still a learning process.
Kyle Hamrick:
Let's nerd out about Mogrts for a second. I'm also a huge Mogrts hype person. And I wish more people were using them. I can't count the number of times where I have been working on a project with someone and recommend that as a solution. They're like, "What?" They've never heard of them. People are resistant to change sometimes and they're used to getting like a render out of After Effects but I could literally give you a template where all you have to do is type a new word and it's fully animated and everything. It's awesome.
Kelsey Brannan:
Yeah. I think some Mogrts perform better than others.
Kyle Hamrick:
For sure.
Kelsey Brannan:
And I think the software is definitely improved so much since it first came out. And the essential graphics panel I think the intent here was like it created this new kind of revolution. I actually made a whole long course on the essential graphics panel and I go into kind of the history of it. It was just like kind of a nerdy time for me to nerd out about the EGP as I call it. But I was a big adopter and a big supporter of that move because not only when you purchase templates or if somebody gives you a template and you need to modify it, this is going back to what we were talking about, about knowing After Effects. You can open up that Mogrt file in After Effects. There's a hack.
Kyle Hamrick:
It's actually direct now. I was meaning to tell you.
Kelsey Brannan:
Oh, that's great.
Kyle Hamrick:
You can just open it up in After Effects now. You don't have to do the unzip thing.
Kelsey Brannan:
Oh my god. I was just about to say I would like to ... And I think I said that in one of my past videos. I wish that we could just open it up. So that's great. So if you could open up the Mogrt file, you can go in and you can adjust the font or the colors because one thing about Mogrt files some people are saying, "Oh, but every time I drop it in from Premiere I have to change the color each time and I have to change the font each time." That's eating up time and I get that. That's little tedious work that takes away from your time. So going in After Effects and feeling comfortable there to just quickly change it and re-export it and add it to your essential graphics panel in Premiere is just a fantastic workflow. So if you're not using Mogrts I would say just try. And one thing to remember too is you don't necessarily have to use a Mogrt. If you start with a Mogrt and like for example if you're sharing motion graphics with somebody else and it's going to be the same every time, you can just render it out as a movie file too.
Kelsey Brannan:
But the beauty of it is if there is a client that needs a quick change you can just go on and quickly change it without having to re-render it each time. Right? That's the whole point.
Kyle Hamrick:
Yeah. So much better. For the right things. So obviously one answer to this question is very obvious because you teach about it a lot. But particularly when you were still doing client work, what do you feel like learning After Effects did for your career or your trajectory?
Kelsey Brannan:
I think I was able to make the videos better. They're more dynamic, more interesting than just ... I was doing some more talking head shots with like lower thirds and lots of B rolls. They were like little mini documentary series. And so I was able to add better transitions. I was able to add some more lower thirds. They were more dynamic and interesting. And also work with templates more if it was like a slide show effect. Not building it from scratch because I didn't have time to do that. And then getting to know how to use After Effects and then sharing that knowledge with my team so we can make better content ultimately. Because those videos have to be eye catchy.
Kyle Hamrick:
Everything kind of does now.
Kelsey Brannan:
Yeah. Story is king. Especially if you're on TikTok too and I know there's lot of mobile apps that do different effects and stuff. But I know that there's a lot of TikTokers that actually use After Effects to create magic effects and then they'll share how I did this. And you can make a career out of being a TikToker magician these days. Why not learn After Effects to have some fun. I know I recently posted my witch takeoff effect. And actually I didn't use After Effects for that because I used an asset from my friends over at Production Crate that they designed already with a transparency so I kind of cheated there. But if it's there why not use it. But yeah, definitely learning After Effects has definitely upped my game for sure.
Kyle Hamrick:
So you called it cheating but I think that learning ... Whether you're doing it in After Effects specifically or not, kind of starting to understand the concept of compositing, it just opens up so many possibilities versus like literally just snipping clips together. And like you said, there's so many people ... There's kids making stuff with their phones and even using apps that are doing these compositing tasks in sometimes rudimentary ways but it's just this whole new universe of possibilities when you aren't just limited to the footage you have. You can combine things and remix things in all kids of interesting ways.
Kelsey Brannan:
Yeah, for sure. Like a lot of the mobile apps, you probably have to pay like a monthly fee and then you'll be able to use those effects that you composite. So it's the same sort of thing that I did. But I just took this witch takeoff spinning twister smoke effect. And then you still have to think about from an editing perspective, okay, I'm going to not be in the frame and I'll get 15 seconds. Also, thinking like a cinematographer at the same time, going to get 15 seconds, nobody in frame, and then I'm going to do the exact same shot. Don't move the tripod and hope there's not a lot of wind in the next shot if it's outside, which is what I was doing. And then go into frame and then just add that thing on top and make a cut. And it's cool to think about what you can do. I think that's why people love these magic effects because it's like a extension of our desires, our creativity. And at the end of the day that's the joy of what I do is sometimes I'm literally doing just a basic did you know how to do this and really break down the nitty gritty.
Kelsey Brannan:
But at the end of the day it's like wow, you can create this and that's so cool. Because it really is an extension of what's going on inside and I think that's totally rad.
Kyle Hamrick:
Regardless of which tool you're using. It's cool how accessible this stuff has become. I'm just a little bit older than you but we were making silly videos in high school and stuff like that and man, any kind of special effects stuff was really hard when you're working with VHS tapes.
Kelsey Brannan:
Yeah. No. I was using the mini DV tapes. And yeah, it's interesting how we've become evolved and I know a lot of people are talking about AI now and everything that is being used with AI and honestly, AIs have become my best assistant ever. For example, in Premiere Pro, the essential sound panel with the new auto remixing where it will automatically remix your song to any duration. There's now auto tone in the Lumetri color panel where it will analyze your shot. It's not always perfect and to be honest I haven't really used it because I tend to try to shoot my video as I want it to be. Which I think is a good practice to have anyway. At least on YouTube it's just easier and quicker. But yeah, I think AI is not going to take over the editor's job. I mean, look at me. I'm talking in year 2021 and somebody's listening to this 100 years from now they'll be like, "Ha ha ha ha." The AI is like, "Wa ha ha ha. Stupid human Premiere gal." I really think that we should embrace it to a certain extent.
Kyle Hamrick:
Yeah. I agree. As long as it can help get rid of all the tedious stuff and lets us do the fun, creative things, yeah, let's do it.
Kyle Hamrick:
So this is sort of an interesting one and I know it's been a little while since you maybe had to think about this, but you still kind of do. If someone is an editor who's kind of gotten into motion design, still trying to figure out how to brand themselves, how to market themselves, do you have any thoughts about the people that aren't quite sure? I mean, honestly, I've been calling myself an editor/motion designer for over a decade and I'm fine with it personally. But I know some people feel like they need to really define what it is they do and it's hard to find something that really covers like, "Well, I'm an editor and shooter and writer and colorist and blah, blah, blah, blah."
Kelsey Brannan:
I think that people assume that all of that is within the word creator these days. But yeah, I've definitely had that sort of identity crisis too as a shreditor person. It's like can you categorize yourself as one particular thing? And people like that. People like putting people in boxes to define. Oh yeah, Zach King is a phenomenal magician Final Cut king person and that's what he does. And sometimes there is a beauty in focusing on one thing in life. And I think one thing that I always think about is what if I do that? That sounds interesting. I'm always interested in other things and I guess that's why I created the tutorial channel because I'm always interested in trying new things out. Because otherwise I feel like the routine of doing the same thing all the time gets quite monotonous for me and it's important to keep life a little spicy every now and then. So yeah, I think for me, in terms of my brand, sometimes I wish maybe I had just used my name instead of Premiere Gal because I did box myself in to like, oh, she's just Premiere.
Kelsey Brannan:
And there is some benefit to having a niche. And if I want to do something more I could always create another channel like, Hey Let's Cook With Gal. Because there's other parts of myself. Like I like to cook, like I like dogs and other things that I don't really share on that channel. So I think it is important to stick with a theme if you want to go kind of in that creator route and just focus on that. And just know that there's a lot of people that it takes them doing a few different channels first before they actually find the thing that they're like, "Okay. I can do this for a long time." And I think I've found that with Gal but there are times where I'm like, "Okay. Maybe I do want to create again." Because I am still creating but maybe I want to be a part of a TV show or expand it and evolve a little bit more because we're always evolving. But try to stick with something. Give it time and be patient with that first project and don't be like, "Oh, I'm only getting 100 views," and give up.
Kelsey Brannan:
Because the first few videos I did, they didn't get that much coverage but thanks to Google some of them did do well in the beginning. I was like, "Okay. Maybe this is a thing." So give yourself time. And I think I still am learning how to do that. It's hard to do that as a human.
Kyle Hamrick:
It is. It's probably good general advice about anything.
Kelsey Brannan:
Yeah. Just anything. I didn't know we were going to get so deep into sort of-
Kyle Hamrick:
Yeah. Well, here we are.
Kelsey Brannan:
Philosophy of life and the meaning of life and everything. But I think just try to do what you love and not everybody's fortunate to have that ability but you have to make your reality and I truly believe that when you say you want to do something you can do it. And surround yourself with people that love you and support you and who you want to be. And never give up. To talk about sort of my journey too, I went into grad school and I ... I didn't talk about this part before but after film and media studies I was like, "Geez, I don't know what to do. Am I just going to be an assistant editor in LA?" And I did actually an internship at the Hollywood Reporter. And I was an intern and it's not that I didn't enjoy the work. I did learn a lot from the guys there. But they were just like quick little snippets like trying to get people to click to see how this guy did self portrait shots. And I just kind of wanted to go a little bit deeper and I really, really loved film theory and I was like, "Maybe I want to be a film professor or something and teach film and media studies and build on the literature that's out there."
Kelsey Brannan:
So I actually went to grad school to explore that a little bit. And then I realized that it's kind of more of a academia bubble. It's not bad and I think it's great but I wanted to be able to share things. So I guess that's why I kind of became film professor of software on YouTube. In a weird kind of circular way I found my way to teach in my own way and still feel like I was a part of the community.
Kyle Hamrick:
I think that's great. It's also ... Things have changed quite a bit.
Kelsey Brannan:
True.
Kyle Hamrick:
And it's easier to make that kind of information so much more accessible than it used to be. And while I wouldn't necessarily recommend someone go to college to learn how to use Premiere for example, learning film theory is maybe an appropriate thing to go to college for. But a lot of times learning software ... And I have also taught software at a college a little bit. I don't think it's the best place for that and there can be kind of a bubble and probably hard for them to stay updated on things too.
Kelsey Brannan:
Yeah. I remember a lot of students in film and media studies, they would hate going to the film theory classes because they're like, "I'm never going to use this and-"
Kyle Hamrick:
Boring.
Kelsey Brannan:
Boring. Was it Eisenstein and his early soviet films?
Kyle Hamrick:
Yeah. Which all of our editing today is really based on. If you're listening to this and you don't know any editing history, look it up. It's fun.
Kelsey Brannan:
Yeah. And there's also Bazon? Bazin? He's French I think. And it's about the long shot and waiting and being patient and letting everything take place. And if you guys haven't seen the new series Master of None that was made by Aziz Ansari, he directed this next one and he wasn't really in this one but he uses that theory a lot where he actually ... I don't know if he used a film camera or if they added the effect later in post production but everything is a long shot. And you just see what happens. The drama unfolds and there's no cut-ins on people's faces. It's kind of an old school approach to it. So I think theory in a sense and studying the history of what has been done, I think it's like an homage to those people and saying you inspired me to do that and now I can think about the story in this new way. Because a lot of these stories, they come from people's lives and what they're trying to convey emotionally and what are the different theories, what has been done to kind of convey that in the right way. So I think it was important.
Kelsey Brannan:
So I was actually kind of irritated when these people would be like, "Oh, I don't want to go to that." And I'm like, "But it's still cool. What do you mean?" I love software but it's still so cool.
Kyle Hamrick:
You're learning why you're making these choices.
Kelsey Brannan:
The importance of the why. And I think that's really important to echo. But of course, the skills, once you graduate college ... This is why I had the problem, right? But I was so into film theory and it's like maybe I'm not good enough as an editor and there's always that fear that you're behind always with technology. Like you kind of have to keep up with it all the time. And that is true. You do have to keep up with it if that's the area you want to be in. At the end of the day I think I fell in love more with making things than writing about them that luckily with YouTube you can write about them and make things at the same time.
Kyle Hamrick:
So speaking of technology, we've kind of mentioned several times other tools that you like that are third party things or AI that you're excited about. Is there something in particular that you're really watching carefully, kind of really excited to see where it goes, what it could do for creators of whatever type of media?
Kelsey Brannan:
The future question. I forget the name of the software. Philip Bloom posts about it a lot recently. Where you can have AI make a low res video file higher res. So you can take a 720 or an old videotape camera and improve it to be 8K for example. So I think that can offer something. And there's also the controversy of I think that this was started in Project Voco that was released, I don't know, in Adobe Max and then they kind of stopped pursuing it for some reason. And I guess it's the ethics of recreating voice. So if I'm talking right now it can recognize my voice and it can recreate words and sentences that I didn't say. And I think there is the ethics issue and I think people are talking about this already and with the deep fakes. Which I'm not sure ... The deep fakes that I see, I'm like, it's not that good. But I could see how it could get better. So I think the whole media and there's that ethics to think about too because media literacy today is out the window.
Kelsey Brannan:
I think it was still contained until about 2018. 2015. I don't know. I just feel like people are just sharing stuff and they're not thinking about it as much anymore and it is frustrating. I think that's why some people don't like Facebook as much anymore because there's constant stuff. So I think that can be layered in with it. And I think that's where we need to watch out for it. But some people are using it to recreate the voice of people that have passed away. And I think that was the controversy of Anthony Bourdain documentary. Which I understand. It's like get somebody else's perspective to read it. Because it is kind of haunting to hear something like that. But it depends on how you look at it. It could be joyful to be like, "Oh, I hear somebody's voice." You know?
Kyle Hamrick:
Yeah.
Kelsey Brannan:
So those are the three. The one is like making images better quality to look out for and then I think deep fakes and Project Voco are interesting tools that could be used in specific ways. And I think that's it.
Kyle Hamrick:
AI can definitely be used for good or for evil. Hopefully mostly for good. I remember that too. It was a sneak a few years ago and then they seemed to promptly ax it. But yeah, Adobe had another sneak this year where they were showing what we would colloquially call deep fakes. And let's be honest, Adobe, they're the ones who created Photoshop which is sort of the root of all of this changing things, what's real anyway. But they're also making an effort to help with digital verifications of things, which is something that's definitely needed as we go into this. And hopefully people will be savvy about these things. I mean, I think the reality is it's coming/is here already. So the big players need to be the ones kind of driving the train because otherwise somebody else is going to be driving it to the wrong place probably.
Kelsey Brannan:
Yeah. I mean, there's also the same technology that's used for example with The Irishman to make the actors look decades younger so they could tell a more interesting story with the same actor and not have to cast the younger version, somebody that kind of looks like Robert De Niro for example, and add makeup and all of that. And it did require a lot of ... I think they actually came up with their own system for that. A lot of research and money went into doing that. So you need to have a budget to be able to do something like that. But there are some tools. For example there's AE Face Tools. It's a template by ... I forget the name of the author on Envato market. But you can basically overlay augmented face masks. Just kind of like what you see when you do FaceTime. But it's more customized to an editor and how you tell your story. Just like when I talk about sex education. In that story, they used technology to help drive the actual narrative of the film. So when people are walking you see the text message bubbles pop up and it's like those augmented realities, I could see that taking more of an effect in a lot of the films that are targeted more for millennials and gen Z and all of that. They're creating stuff now so we're going to see that.
Kyle Hamrick:
Yeah. Maybe that's a good point to kind of wrap things up, which is knowing your audience and knowing your context and why that's important for whatever you might be creating.
Kelsey Brannan:
Yeah. Absolutely. And I'm still figuring out my audience. I actually saw that Dan Mace ... He's a filmmaker that I follow on YouTube and he has some really innovative stuff and he has some really cool effects with stop motion and integrating stop motion with live action. You should definitely check out his work. But he recently did an Instagram story poll and he's like, "Hey, I'd love to learn more about who you guys are. Do you prefer to do this or that?" And people would just click the Instagram poll and it was a really smart way of getting to know his audience versus just a standard Survey Monkey from like ... I'm not having hate on Survey Monkey. Survey Monkey has done a lot of cool stuff. Sorry Survey Monkey. But I'm just saying if you want to know your audience on those platforms, that's a super smart way of doing it. And you can do the same thing on YouTube on the community tab. You can say, "Hey, just tell me a little bit about who you are and what you need." And I'm still learning because I have a huge range of people. It's still mainly male but it's 80 ...
Kelsey Brannan:
I need to check. 85 and 15% female. I think that's what it is. And it used to be worse. And it's actually better which I'm super stoked about. But in terms of age it's from like 12 to 70 plus. Seriously. It's so cool. Everybody's creating right now. And my grandma who's 92 has an iPad. So she's like, "What are you doing? How are you making money?" So it's just interesting to know that anybody can watch the videos that are making. And I think if you want to get really into it, I think ... What's his face? He's really into affiliate marketing and he says you need to create 1,000 true fans and then you'll be able to go from there. 1,000 true fans is like your starting point. And then you can grow from there. And then you have success when you have that. And he wrote a book about it I think. So if you guys are interested you can check it ... Oh, Pat Flynn. Pat Flynn.
Kyle Hamrick:
I was going to say, if we figure it out I'll edit it in.
Kelsey Brannan:
So Pat Flynn, he's great and he's super positive guy and I really like watching some of his stories on Instagram just to learn his perspective on social media marketing and affiliate marketing. And he's basically saying that you can make a living doing something like that. And I think I talked about this a bit with Hailey on Motion Hatch. About affiliate marketing. So if you guys are interested in learning more about that and how I make money through that, you can listen to her podcast episode I think.
Kyle Hamrick:
That sounds right. I think you were probably my primary education on affiliate marketing.
Kelsey Brannan:
Really?
Kyle Hamrick:
Yeah.
Kelsey Brannan:
Huh.
Kyle Hamrick:
Which I don't do much of. I don't personally have enough of a presence for that sort of thing really.
Kelsey Brannan:
Right. I mean, if you're a motion designer you can make royalties off of things that you make, for example on Adobe Stock, and that's kind of similar. But it's different because you actually made the product versus affiliate marketing you're sharing that. And yeah, it works and sometimes it doesn't work. But I think it's about brand awareness and creating your platform and a partnership that makes sense. So it may not be for you but I think that it's worth a try if you want to try it out.
Kyle Hamrick:
To take this back to our film theory nerdery for just a minute before we finish, do you have any thoughts on knowing your audience and your context in those terms?
Kelsey Brannan:
Knowing your audience in the context of film theory. For example, kind of like the idea of you're talking direct to camera. And before, if I was doing a documentary, I would be here. I'd be like, "Hi, my name is Kelsey and ..." I'm ignoring that wall, you know?
Kyle Hamrick:
Yeah. The camera is not present.
Kelsey Brannan:
Now we're interacting with that and we're hyper aware of it. In a lot of films even you have those direct to camera mockumentary style work happening. But at least in the YouTube space it's shattered that wall. And I think gives you a lot of power and relatability. And I think as we were saying before with the voco stuff, it can be great and it can also be too much.
Kyle Hamrick:
I think my thought is the aesthetics of filmmaking, but editing in particular have changed so much over the last, probably 40 years at this point. Watch a movie from 40 years ago compared to a movie now. Or the thing that I always like to start when I would teach people editing. I would show them the opening from Full House, which was a sitcom from the late '80s for you young kids. And then show them the opening for Modern Family. Which accomplished the same thing in about 14 seconds as the opening for Full House took two minutes to do with multiple lingering shots of each character turning around and smiling and doing a cheeseball thing. And it's even more compressed now. John Stamos had a show on at the time. I forget what it was called. But the intro card for the show was literally like four seconds of black with the title on it and just like a little ... And it was just interesting how much that's ... I'm sure some of it's just driven by advertising requirements and stuff but-
Kelsey Brannan:
Right.
Kyle Hamrick:
The aesthetics of what your audience wants and can understand and can grasp and all that has changed so much. It's interesting.
Kelsey Brannan:
Yeah. And you have to treat your audience not as dummies either. They're looking more closely now at things and they have their phones and they're looking for little tidbits in there that you give them. But yeah, a lot of things are subtle quick humor and you have to be on it to be able to catch certain things in today's TV. And when I try to watch an old '90s romance film, I really have to change my entire perspective because I'm so used to a different way of consuming films now on Netflix that it's more fast. Like binge watching episodes. And it's a different pace for sure. But there's also something refreshing about taking a step back like I was saying and really changing that. I think at the end of the day you don't have to follow the trend of being fast and quick. I think at the end of the day it's what you're trying to say in the story in a creative way. And I'm trying to do that in my tutorials when I'm trying to introduce the effect. I'm trying to say, okay, how can I show what I'm going to be talking about in a creative way in this opening?
Kelsey Brannan:
Sometimes I have more time to think about a creative way in doing it versus sometimes I just show the effect. But the key is clarity, consistency, and also trying to make it not super boring. As lively as possible, at least in that YouTube space. But I completely agree with you. It's changed. But I urge everybody not to feel like they have to do it a certain way but to look at the history of how things were done because it's more fun to see it that way.
Kyle Hamrick:
I think that was an excellent way to wrap things up. Where should people go if they want to find out more about you and what you do?
Kelsey Brannan:
Well, you could just head on over to YouTube.com/premieregal to check out tutorials there. There's a little search icon that you can search for any specific effects. And my website, premieregal.com. You can see blogs there. I also have a Patreon community associated with the YouTube content and it's constantly evolving, this community. But essentially, I want to make the product files that kind of show the entire timeline and some templates that I design and provide those for free to my patrons. As well as my editing scripts so you can kind of see how I produce my tutorials. So those are just some of the perks and rewards you can get by joining the Patreon. Of course, some people just come and say, "Hey, thank you providing or saving me for doing this edit." And it's there as a way to kind of crowdsource the channel. While I do have sponsors, it's great to ... I would love for it to move to be just completely community based but it hasn't quite gotten there yet. But I'm super grateful to a lot of the patrons that have signed up and it's growing. So that's what you can get there. And you can direct message with me there on the app, which is great.
Kelsey Brannan:
And I have my Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok as well. Search for Premiere Gal TikTok, and Twitter and Instagram there's a underscore between the Premiere and the Gal because it was taken.
Kyle Hamrick:
By who?
Kelsey Brannan:
I don't know. They were just like these dead accounts. And this was in 2016 so it was a little late on Twitter to get a handle that had that. But yeah, you guys can find me there and I try to be responsive on Instagram if you guys have questions. So you can DM me there. Twitter as well I'm on every week. So thanks so much Kyle for having me. It was a fun conversation.
Kyle Hamrick:
I'm not sure how many podcasts will reference both John Stamos and Sergei Eisenstein but if that was on your bingo card, enjoy. As you heard, Kelsey draws from a long list of inspirations for her work and her tutorials. Hopefully we gave you a few new resources, both modern and very old school, that you can be inspired by yourself. And remember, if Kelsey can go from asking on Twitter if a thing is even possible to creating an entertaining and informative tutorial on that thing just a few days later, I'm pretty sure you can work up the confidence to hop into After Effects once in a while. And if you feel like you're ready to get serious about learning After Effects in a structured and project based format with a bunch of other people just as excited to be learning it as you are and with real feedback on your work from a real person, School of Motion's After Effects Kickstart course is, in my personal opinion, the best way to do it. I'm honestly pretty jealous of people who get to learn After Effects this way so check it out and make me jealous.