Trigger Warning: technical terms, production workflow, jerkbag people
Working in digital production, there are two skills you need to get things done quickly. You need to be computer saavy (or please, at a minimum be computer literate), and you need to think ahead to where you might have conflict— in your story, on your crew, and between bits of software.
This is why I generally start each production with a research phase where I look for the pitfalls in what I'm doing, which mostly come up in post production. I try to figure out where the software I use (mostly Adobe. I'm in love with one particular program, and I use their other stuff because by default, they play nice together.) will clash with software other people use. Most of the time this is specialty software for 3D or effects, but some people love Final Cut — even X — as much as I love After Effects. *shrugs* Not a thing I understand. Since I don't get any fancier than crossfading footage in the editor, NLE's are pretty interchangeable to me. Two monitors, a bin of source footage, and the timeline. Go. Edit.
After that, there's what I call in my head the Confirmation Phase. I take all the data I've collected and I have conversations with the people who use stuff outside of my usual workflow to make sure that I've identified the problem. At any given time, we have about three projects actively in post-production. And there's often one person (It's rarely ever been the same person. We weed out repeat performances of this shit.) who says, to the immediate rapid drop of my stomach, "No, I want you to do this differently than your research shows," or "No, don't do anything you wouldn't do if you weren't working with me."
Because invariably, what happens next is a Middle of the Night Emergency Message on two or more methods of communication (always shout-ey, no matter the medium):
"SO I DIDN'T REALIZE BEFORE BUT I CANT DO ANYTHING IF I DON'T HAVE [Exact thing Mel had asked about.] SO I NEED YOU TO DROP WHATEVER YOU ARE DOING RIGHT NOW [Usually sleep, thanks.] AND GET IT TO ME IMMEDIATELY."
I can't always do that, especially since many the person is asking me to wake up two hours after I went to bed (Though, since I was expecting it today, I went to bed at like 5 pm, but that's between you and me, GT.) or because sometimes the Master Edit Bay is busy rendering—the thing you have to do to get a playable video file out of whatever software you're using.
Now, I've been at this for a long time, before these programs really had the capability to actually work in the background. It's not that you couldn't theoretically do other things, it's just that it needed all of your computer's RAM and processing power, so the computer wasn't really capable of doing more. So I do not like to disturb renders. I think the process that creates them is a little bit like magic, and any little thing you do could result in a dropped frame like this video of mine has at 4 seconds:
That frame is gone, all the way back to the sequence of PSDs. I had to interrupt that batch process for a freaked-out client, and I don't like to do it anymore. I WON'T do it if it's for another client. And trust me, you'd want that same courtesy if the situations were reversed.
Now that I can cordon off some RAM and processing cores directly for the rest of the system, in theory I actually could go disturb a render and pull a file or export something that's not a video render, but I crash Macs on the reg (apparently this is an accomplishment, but I think most other people simply aren't maximizing the potential of the software), still drop frames, and otherwise continue to push the limits of my hardware and software. So, you've a better shot of getting me to pick up my dog mid-stream while she's pissing.
Scream on into the night rage-faced, PEBCAK. I cannot do anything before 6AM EST.