Forest for the Trees

You probably are acquainted with the saying, “Can’t see the forest for the trees.” Perhaps you have had experiences that have taught you the meaning of this phrase. I have had my fair share of fleshing this phrase out. One, in particular, I will share with you now while it is fresh in my mind.

Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated with video editing. For a short time, I worked for a video production place before I realized even though I enjoyed the work I couldn’t make a living making videos for someone else. Not unless you were attached to a Hollywood budget. So, I quietly gave up that pursuit but I still attempted to make some private videos as a creative outlet.

It took a few years before I became frustrated. My vision of what I wanted to create lacked the skill and money to produce. After being disappointed by the outcome of several projects this particular endeavor fell by the wayside. I could do something a lot less time consuming and receive the same level of disappointment.

My family all encouraged me though. Most of them requested videos at their wedding. So, I did my best.

This year I was asked if I’d make a wedding video for a couple getting married in May. By this time, I hadn’t touched my video editing computer in over a year. Would it even work?

No, it did not. I tried updating it and all I received in return is an error message that the “storage was full.” This was two weeks before the wedding which happened to be during the final phase of spring’s quarantine. What was I to do?

I live in a small town so I drove to Staples because that is about the only option we have here. Long story short, I put myself in the mercy and know how of a salesman and I walked out with a computer and video editing software. Not the best but readily available.

I went home and set up my new toy. Because of my shopping excursion and setting it up I didn’t get as far along on the project as I had hoped. No worries, I still had one more weekend. I only work on such projects on the weekend otherwise it interferes with sleep and I need sleep for my paying job.

The next weekend I worked diligently on the video. Nothing wanted to work right or easily so all day Friday bled into Saturday. It came down to the very last effect I wanted the video to end with. A scrolling text a la Star Wars of advice from loved ones. I began working on it Saturday afternoon but could not get it to work.

After hours of frustration and watching YouTube videos I started a chat with the support help. Come to find out, I had the BASIC version of the software; to accomplish my effect I needed the ULTIMATE. So, I had to upgrade my software.

Sunday morning, armed with my upgrade, I started working once again. Surely, by now, after all this, I’d be able to finish this up in no time. That proved to be a false hope. It ended up taking me nearly all day to try and get that effect right. By this time, I had spent too much time to do something different. This video was going to get a scrolling end text if it was the last thing I did. There were times, I thought that statement my come to fruition.

I finished the video and watched it. There were glaring flaws and problems throughout that I could have spent time fixing if I hadn’t been obsessed with the end scroll. After I finished the video and sent it off I realized I could have done things differently that might have produced a better looking video. But I had become so focused on getting that end scroll in that I didn’t look objectively at the whole project. The project became the scroll and because of that the quality of the whole suffered.

Sure, I can write about this now as a lesson learned but it’s amazing how quickly the focus can shift. I’m not sure who came up with the saying about the forest for the trees. Whoever it was knew what they were talking about.

What tips have you learned about stepping back and looking at the big picture? What helps you to not micro-focus on details and lose sight of the whole?

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