Yesterday (29/09/2014) was the one year anniversary of me leaving my job and beginning to work full time on creating and launching School of Scratch – a dedicated online space to learn about scratching at your own pace, using comprehensive, clearly broken down, high quality HD scratch tutorial videos:
I never announced this change at the time – I was terrified of what would happen as I ventured off into the unknown!
I got my head down, experimented somewhat and off I went.
It has been a challenging rollercoaster ride, but fun and rewarding!
During the 8 months before the School opened on May 27th 2014, I started off by recording 30 days of freestyle scratch videos to get me in the flow of producing and editing. I wrote, planned, built the website and shot and edited video tutorials, all the while not really knowing what would happen when I launched.
Would anyone sign up? Would I be able to pay the bills? Well the answer was YES!
We are now 4 months into the School being open, so I thought you might like an insight into what my days look like, and to take a look at the work that goes on behind the scenes of School of Scratch.
Let’s take a look at a typical day.
Behind the Scenes of School of Scratch / a day in the life.
I wake up anywhere between 5am (in summer) and 7am, or around 8am in winter or if I am feeling particularly tired.
Next I drink water – gotta stay hydrated for maximum brain power!
Next I shower and get some exercise. I usually do a few minutes of yoga sun salutations. Or take a walk to breathe in the morning air. I find that keeping healthy is important in order to stay creative and fresh.
Then it’s time for breakfast before cracking on with the day.
I usually cheek my email next, although I am trying to do this later in the day once I have got the main bulk of the creating done.
Next I get to creating! This varies from day to day, but typically I am engaged in one or more of the following:
I turn on the decks and usually do a little freestyle to warm up.
Then I start work on a tutorial, working out how to best break down techniques, concepts and timings. I script my videos to keep things tight and cut out all those um’s and ah’s that can make learning a bore! I’m aiming for a clear, concise and simple explanation that empowers students to get going with the minimum of fuss or frustration.
Here are a few photos of my creative process:
Sometimes I might need to improve my own technique before I record the tutorial so I do some deliberate practice.
If i have time, I might jump in the live scratch room for a jam with any of the students that are up early enough.
I’ll usually text chat with friend and SoS student Suckertash daily, who is a real help in the school. I sometimes bounce ideas of him or breakdown concepts I have in mind for the school.
Much of the time I’m creating in isolation so it really helps to have a sense of community and people to chat to, even if it’s just online in the day before I head out to see real live people again!
Once the scripts are ready and the lesson planned out, I jump into recording mode.
This involves setting up all the camera equipment, mic, sound recorder and lighting so everything is captured correctly.
Once I’m setup, I hit record and start teaching!
The other recording I do is QnA sessions for the students to practice along to.
I prepare for these by finding awesome beats and freestyling over them to make sure I’m really feeling the beat and will be able to put my best scratching over it. I dig for scratch samples that will work well with that particular chosen beat. It’s always more than just putting on a beat and starting to scratch for 4 bars – I like to design the whole QnA, even down to what colour vinyl I am using!
Editing Tutorial and QnA Videos
Once I have the footage I need, I get to work on putting it all together in the edit.
First of all I clean up and EQ my voice over in Logic Pro X.
I then import the footage from 2 cameras and the separately recorded high quality voice over audio and audio from Serato, then check that I got all the takes (yes, I have had cameras or audio mess up and have to re-record – boo!) then I sync it all up in FCPx to look something like this:
At this point I can relax a little and usually grab some lunch before I hit up the edit.
The editing takes much longer than shooting.
I go through the recording and choose the best takes and camera angles.
I add transitions, titles and any graphics:
A large number of my tutorials have animated scratch notation diagrams to make it easier to learn. I create these in Illustrator / Photoshop, then animate them in FCPx.
I colour grade each video clip – this makes the video’s colours look better than they normally do. Here is a before and after shot:
Finally, I watch the video through and make any last minute adjustments, including removing audio vocal pops or clicks.
I export the final video and watch it through once more to check everything is as it should be before it goes live.
I also create and export a cut down preview video to give non members who are considering joining an idea of what the video is about, plus 2 other compatible files for Instagram and YouTube. Phew!
Publish new content to the school and notify members
I upload the final video to my video host and create the tutorial pages in the School of Scratch, before drafting an email to let the members know that the video is now live for them to get stuck into.
Once I have published a video tutorial, I’m on the lookout for any questions in the school.
Is really a job in and of itself!
I post the recent content previews to potential new members via email and social media; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
I tend to hit up Instagram in the evening when most of my USA followers are active.
Each day I aim to catch up with all the students in the community and private Facebook group just to check everyone’s ok and to see what’s happening.
I like to be active in the forums, replying to questions or giving feedback, along with the rest of the members.
Wrapping Up The Day
At this point its usually time to call it a day.
I aim to finish around 5 0r 6pm to wind down, eat and relax. In winter when it’s cold and dark I might work on a bit longer or after dinner.
To chill out I might watch a TV show or read. I also like to letter with brush pens.
Working from a home studio sounds fantastic, but sometimes the walls really close in! I try to balance this by getting out as much as possible for fresh air in nature or to see friends.
I used to be a night owl, producing beats until 3 or 4am but I have come to reaslise that sleep is super important for your body and health. If we don’t have our health we can’t scratch or do much of anything. I might still have the odd late night but then I lie in to catch up on sleep.
I do try to take weekends off, but honestly, sometimes I am mulling over a tutorial or just scratching for fun to stay sharp, which I sometimes don’t get the chance to do in the week as i am so focused on creating the tutorials.
Right now SoS is essentially a one person production. Everything you see here or in the School is produced by me. I’m the DJ, tutor, camera person, producer, editor, social media manager and web site manager.
It’s definitely not easy, but the most worthwhile things never are! I love it, especially when a student grasps a technique or has a scratch breakthrough!
That gives you an insight into a typical day and the lifestyle behind the scenes here at Studio Scratches / School of Scratch!
I hope you enjoyed seeing what goes on!
What is School of Scratch?
School of Scratch is a dedicated online space to learn about scratching at your own pace, using comprehensive, clearly broken down, high quality HD scratch tutorial videos. Inside you’ll also find a community of likeminded DJs in the forums, live text chat and live video scratch room. Here’s a screenshot of one of the 7 courses from inside the classroom:
It is the main product of Studio Scratches. It is for those who like the free content I produce and want to dive in deeper or support the work I do.
To mark the 1 year anniversary of starting work on the School, I have now made another membership option available…
The LIFETIME option!
You can now pay a one off fee to get access to the School and all it has to offer present and future! Perfect for if you want to dip in and out at your leisure.
Get the full details and special offer pricing available until October 7th 2014 here:
What’s next for Studio Scratches?
I haven’t been posting as frequently on Studio Scratches as I used to, mainly because right now my time is taken up creating content for all the School of Scratch members.
Whilst the bulk of my Scratch Technique and Combo tutorials moving forward from now will be for SoS members, from time to time I will release full length tutorials. I’d also like to share with you more on the mindset needed to practice and improve your scratching, together with tips and tricks. I’m working on bringing you more interviews too! Then there are my freestyle scratch videos that many of you have said provide inspiration for you to get on the cut.
Honestly, I’m still working on getting the balance right of what to post here. I would really love to give you regular content of some kind here, without devaluing the work I am doing in the School for the paying members who support what I am doing. It’s a matter of getting the balance right and figuring it out! It’s honestly something I am struggling with, but I’m determined to get there!
What are your thoughts?
What you would love to see here on the site from me moving forward that doesn’t take away from the School of Scratch? Please do leave a comment or email me if you prefer.
A great big, massive THANKS to everyone who has been part of the journey so far!
That includes everyone that has bought beats, shared my videos, left me comments here or on YouTube, or sent me emails of feedback, support and encouragement. I LOVE getting emails that let me know that my work has helped you and they usually arrive just when I need a little boost, so thanks!
Hope to see you in class!
Happy Scratching! 😀