Reader Profile - Howard Silby

Name: Howard Silby

Camera: Sony HDR-HC3 (HDV); Sony HDR-FX1 (HDV); Sony HVR-V1U (HDV); Canon EOS 7D.

Editing Platform: Production Premium CS5: Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, Encore, Soundbooth, and Illustrator; particle illusion 3.04, Sonicfire pro 5.5.

Support Gear: Several wired and wireless mics, green screens, tripods, lights, lens
attachments, etc.

Editing System: PCs with quad core cpu/4 GB memory/NVIDIA8800/Epson scanner/many Hard Drives/Matrox RT.X2/Matrox MXO2 mini/DVD duplicator/DVD and photo printers.

Other Editing software: AE plugins: Trapcode, RedGiant Software, GenArts Sapphire,
Tinderbox, Boris Continuum Complete 6.0, Zaxwerks ProAnimator 4.5

YouTube Channel:

I got my first video rig in 1973 (Akai VT100) to shoot my daughters’ figure skating practices and competitions. Being analog, editing was near impossible due to sync issues, copy degradation, and the need for two video decks. Editing or special effects was limited to professional equipment beyond my financial reach. I continued to shoot hundreds of hours of video and thousands of stills while engaged in the full time practice of Neurology from 1967 until retiring in 2002. It was then a digital world, so I decided to become a video producer/editor.

At age 67, I started with the Casablanca system which eased me into the skill, but after two years and with great trepidation, I turned to After Effects. It’s a good thing I was retired because trying to climb the steep learning curve was intimidating and a full time endeavor: It would be like a 40 year veteran video professional deciding to become a neurologist at age 69! Everything was foreign: Vocabulary, workflow, way of thinking, skill set. I thought alpha was a dominant male, channel something that held water, mask something the Lone Ranger wore, transparent a shallow person, matte a thing you wiped feet on, parent an adult with a child.


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I just couldn’t wrap my brain around layers, duplicating, blend modes, expressions, etc. It all seemed counter-intuitive and confusing. I started by purchasing Total Training AE 6.5 with its 40 + hours of training. I then followed with TT 7, most training from Creative Cow,, and Total Training, and every tutorial on the web from Messrs. Dickenson, Rabinowitz, Maltaannon, Kramer, both Meyers, Velez, Holmes, Hamad, Stern, Fozzard, Harrington, Schell, Boris, Creative Cow, Digital Juice, Toolfarm, Digital Anarchy, Videomaker, etc. This 5 years of training took me from After Effects Ground Zero to 0.005% above ground zero, where I still labor trying to learn and perfect this stuff. But at age 74, It’s great fun and extremely rewarding. Creating digital magic gives me many “YES!” and “high five” moments. Plus the added benefit of keeping my brain challenged to help stave off Alzheimer’s disease! While I can do almost any kind of video production, I am a video editor, and spend most of my time writing and editing stories of my family laced with humor for archival purposes, especially so our 5 grandchildren can look back on their youth with a smile, and also learn a great deal about their parents and grandparents lives. My productions range from 1-minute commercials to a 90-minute biography of my wife, which took 4 months of full time effort, for her 70th birthday, (and 50 years married to me!). I do commercials, weddings, special events, sports, arts, medical instructionals, etc. but I don’t market myself much since I don’t want to be beholden to deadlines, and I want to keep full creative control. It sometimes takes me hours to get a 1-second effect right or to learn a special effect, which can’t be done in a for profit mode.

I edit using all of Adobe Production Studio CS5 along with plug-ins from Trapcode, RedGiant Software, Boris FX, Genarts, Tinderbox, Zaxwerks among others. I use royalty free music, video, and stills from Digital Juice, 12 Inch Design, LME, Video CoPilot, All Bets are Off, and miscellaneous web sites. I’ve purchased almost every CS4 plug-in even though I rarely use special effects since I don’t want the FX to be the story. But just knowing I can do some of the incredible stuff is all the reward I need.

Howard Silby – Retired Neurologist,
Video Hobbyist

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