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Hitting the Sweet Spot: How Baseball Is Like Editing

Thought Leaders 191 Add to collection

Good baseball players and good editors are detail people. It’s all about ritual, timing and reading the situation, writes Lucky Post's Marc Stone

Hitting the Sweet Spot: How Baseball Is Like Editing

My first glove was a Wilson, my team was the Bulldogs, and by the time I was 14 I was sure I was going straight to 'The Show' out of high school because I was a wicked junk pitcher and had the meanest slider. I didn’t have the build to throw a 100mph fastball, but I had a loose arm that could put some nasty movement on a pitch. No college or farm league for me. That breaking ball was my ticket. 

Baseball is a lot like editing. Baseball requires a keen eye and acute attention to detail, as does editing. My love for the creative challenges of baseball has been foundational in the creative challenges I face as an editor. It’s a balance of mind games and gut instinct. 

The Ritual

Every ball player has some kind of 'ritual' or series of habits they go through – a little bat waggle, writing a loved one’s initials in the sand before stepping up to the plate, one batting glove – two batting gloves – no batting gloves, sunflower seeds in your back pocket, athletic tape around your index and middle finger. Editors are the same. The way they sort footage or build a sequence is different for every one of them. It's subjective, just like baseball. Everyone has their way of doing things that works best for them – that gets them in the zone – to prepare them for the unknown. And messing with their rituals not only messes with the juju of the baseball gods, but it uproots creative flow. 

A young Marc during his glory days

The Timing

Timing in baseball is the difference between a strike out, a rope down the line, a shot in the gap or a bomb to dead centre. It can mean picking a runner off at first, snow-coning a shot in the gap, or hearing the sweet sound of a caught-looking third strike popping the catcher’s mitt. It’s the same in editing. The timing of shots to music or just the feel of timing between two people talking on screen... If the timing is off, it is noticeable. And if the timing is impeccable, the crowd roars. 

The Situation

Anyone who’s ever said baseball is boring or too slow, doesn’t understand baseball. Anyone who’s ever said editing is boring or gruelling, isn’t a storyteller. There are a thousand scenarios going on in a players head at one time. Runner on second, two outs, down by one, eighth inning, can’t let this runner score. But if they do score, now what? It’s the 'what-if game' every second. Editors and baseball players both have to nimbly adjust to their situations. Editors have many 'options' in how they play out a story. Editors have to consider their options depending on footage, music, and certain other elements and intel they are presented. 

No situation goes without considering the 'players' in each game. Baseball is a sport that requires help from other individuals. And unless you’re editing your high school sports highlight reel in your parent’s basement to relish in past glories, baseball and editing have an audience of more than one to entertain. Just as a pitcher needs a great catcher, fielders, and manager, an editor needs great assistants, online editors, mixers, and producers to make everything run smoothly. It’s a collaboration. It’s a team. A team of talented planners, strategisers and, above all, executioners. 

All of these factors working in unison connect you to 'The Sweet Spot'. The spot on your bat that harnesses the most power and greatest impact. The rhythm you want in your editing session to deliver both the most poignant story and the most satisfied client. 

I didn’t get drafted to the majors. In fact, I didn’t even play in college. Music caught my interest in high school and playing in a band not only took precedence over baseball, but it seemed like the girls I was chasing took greater interest in that I could play the guitar. Music helped me find my way to editing and editing helped me find my ritual again. My timing. And the intoxicating challenge of  'the situation'. Funny how the story can take an unexpected turn.

I may not have the slider almanac of Blue Jay’s legend Dave Stieb or starting Game 1 of the World Series next week, but I definitely feel I made it to 'The Show'.

Marc Stone is an editor at Lucky Post

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Camp Lucky, Thu, 18 Oct 2018 12:14:26 GMT