How do YOU learn new software?

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    • #43395

      Hey everyone! It’s been a while since I posted here on VM.
      When I first got involved in video and editing software, I started looking for jobs on craigslist to get experience and discovered that I always knew all but one of the software programs listed as desired knowledge in the description. I had to learn new software programs so I could apply for jobs.

      The question: How do you go about learning a new software program when you have to?
      I prefer library books, downloadable PDFs and online video tutorials.

      I’m starting a business related to this and need some input. Thanks!

    • #182176

      Online tutorials are the easiest way for me to learn new software. I also play a lot and use the “what would this do” approach when I have for time to experiment.

    • #182177

      I usually print out the documentation file that comes with most software these days, read through it while looking at the software on screen, then do like dagunner and start polking buttons and clicking on things.

      I’ll often check out this forum, as well as Creative Cow forums and forums maintained by the software manufacturer — Sony Vegas and Movie Studio, for example. You might as well try to learn from those who have already gotten a start on the software.

      YouTube often has excellent, short tutorials on specific software, too.


    • #182178

      Lynda dot com to get started, then jump in, occasionally referring to tutorials on Lynda dot com as I progress.

    • #182179

      Choose good ‘intuitive’ software to begin with, it needn’t be ‘flavour of the month’ stuff and, in fact, it’s likely better if is isn’t. If that involves looking around for sources, then so be it. Software originating in the USA and made to sell there in quantity, is not necessarily the best place to start. Much of my software is European in origin. I have been ‘mentoring’, (for want of a better word), a friend who recently bought Magix ‘Movie Edit Pro MX Plus’ on my recommendation. The best way to gain confidence with new and unknown software is ‘hands-on’, even just playing around with it to see what it does, and how well. Be sure to install all help-files, and have a copy of the manual handy, for ‘when everything else fails’. If possible, side-step the glowing ‘spin’ on such programmes, pre-purchase, and download the ‘manual’ instead, if you are able.

      I have gained useful information from the most unlikely (for me), sources, even the Computer Science Dept of Moscow State University, when it comes to the development of ‘cutting-edge’ mp4 formats particularly. I was invited by a gentleman who had developed an item of software suitable for upscaling, to go to that website to read a head-to-head comparison of his product with others which claimed to offer the same levels of performance. The archives of Moscow State University contained an unbiassed comparison, (which rated his software very highly, of course), and I came away with more genuine knowledge regarding quantisation and other theory regarding the finer points of video image making, than I had seen from any number of other sources.

      I even have a very useful little software item, rather loosely related to video, which originated in Macedonia. Two cautions about such sites, however. Have your anti-Malware/Virus software up-to-date, and ‘pass’ on the ‘girlie’ pictures you are bound to beoffered, sooner or later.

      Ian Smith – Dunedin – New Zealand.

    • #182180
      Luis Maymi Lopez

      I usually go to Lynda to learn new software, but most times I look to learn more about a program I already use. This is specially true with After Effects. I also watch YouTube videos and search around the whole web “frankenstein-ing” pieces to create something unique and original.

    • #182181

      Ignore totally the manuals and help files once it’s installed, and see how intuitive the software is. Use the manual only when I can’t make something work.

      As an ex-educationalist, it’s all to do with our learning styles – there are even on-line tests Google will find for you that test which method is best for you. Mine always comes out as kinaesthetic – so I learn best from fiddling. People who read manuals have a different learning style, that’s all. It also explains why when you go on a training course sometimes you are bored rigid – while others seem to enjoy themselves.

      The theory is complex, often disputed and deadly dull – wiki has some useful info designed to send you to sleep, but my favourite descriptions are these basic ones.

      1. visual learners;
      2. auditory learners;
      3. kinesthetic learners
      4. tactile learners.
    • #182182

      I start by using self assignments doing things I love, then I dig into the software and every time I hit a wall, I go to google, youtube or the library and solve it.

      after a couple self assignments I then have enough feel for the software to tackle something bigger…

    • #182183

      I just float around the net and pick stuff up from various sources. For software like After Effects I would say Video Copilot. But there are loads of websites doing tutorials on a wide range of software.

      I would rather see something in action, than read about it.

    • #182184

      I wind up frantically poking buttons in an attempt to innitiate a desired operation . . . . . . and when it suddenly engages, I have no idea how I got there!

      Rick Crampton

    • #182185

      Good Questions:

      Nothing beats training. I have tried the learn it by book and by hit and miss, but the experts will get you there faster and better than anything else. I use Vegas Pro. I bought VASST’s 3 discs for training. It was worth every penny. I bought Vortex’s CD on the use of my Sony Z5/7. It was worth every penny.

      I go to Sony’s webinars and there I learned a ton of stuff. Get hands on with expertise where ever you can find it and stop dicking and clicking around. These guys are so far ahead. You can learn a lot by the in-bred training and that is worth a lot, but the cost for the expert training discs, even here on VM, is worth the price many times over. Sure it costs, but it also gets you up to speed fast and make less mistakes and wasted time trying to find answers.

    • #182186

      speaking of learning new software… anybody recommend any easy to use reference oriented books on premier pro? I just bought cs6 and am thinking of laerning to use premier pro and after effects…

    • #182187

      I jump in and start breaking stuff, then go to tutorials and then hit the books and back to the tutorials and by then I usually have it.

      So I see how intuitive it is first. Then learn the interface and then fundamentals then some advanced lessons for learning a work flow.

    • #182188

      Almost always I’ll jump in until I get stuck and then go to YouTube or this site for help. One thing that strikes me though is that I don’t think I ever get to the expert stage because the programs are so intricate now. For example, I’m a year into Master Collection 5.5 and can’t see any point in upgrading because I’m still just scraping the surface in the previous iteration of the program. I also buy training DVD’s and subscribe to training courses but I’m pretty frugal in that regard.

    • #182189

      ” One thing that strikes me though is that I don’t think I ever get to the expert stage because the programs are so intricate now. “

      Yup . . gotta be all things to all users.

      Several years ago I took a ProTools DAW course in LA. It was designed to take one from power up to MIDI music composition and mixing with various features along the way. Insection one I found my eyes glazing over and I was nodding off as the instructor droned on about features which meant nothing to me. I bailed.

      My first introduction to sound editing on a DAW was a few years earlier on the Waveframe/Studioframe which was more lmited in scope, the software having been developed by sound editors. After asking a half dozen questions to other editors I was quickly up to speed and was churning out product at an impressive rate.

      The point I’m trying to make is that the best way to ” learn ” software is from a ” need-to-know ” vantage point; ie, ” How do I make this thing do . . . . . ? ” The myriad features available in any professional NLE software are useless until one has a fluid and firm grasp of the editing basics.

      Rick Crampton

    • #182190


      After effects has got to be the grand MOTHER of all programs to pick up..Geez, I spent days just doing a one minute intro..It was nice, But i want my time back!!

      agree with videocopilot..


    • #182191

      I fire it up, decide to make something and have at it. Most good programs have various means to the same end. This is also how I test it out to see (my catch phrase) “if it works like I think.” That is different for everybody. Years ago when I chose an Avid system at work, the terminology of clips, bins and sequences made sense to me since I had cut some 16mm film, not much and not well, but I did it. lol I believe I got one training session with the purchase, and I was off to the races. AE I just picked up. But, I barely scratch the surface with what it can do, but I don’t really need, nor do I have the time, to get deeper into it. In fact, in some NLE’s I can now do in them what I used to need AE to accomplish. But I still fall back to AE for those things because I am used to it.

      I have checked out some Youtube tutorials. Last year I downloaded the free version of Lightworks, (intrigued because they want to port to Linux) but that editor defies me, it does not “work the way I think.” lol

      I was asked to review Magix Video Pro X2.0 a couple years back and instead of just pushing buttons I decided to create something to see how it worked. and thus my webseries Video QuickTips was born, and I have continued to use VPX for my personal projects, and Avid at work.

    • #182192

      Thank you everyone! It was great to get some ideas.

      The business is coming along. Good luck with learning!

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