I’m Adam Powers, Video Producer for Lifehacker, and This Is How I Work

Every week, we share shortcuts, workspaces, and productivity tips from our favorite experts. This week we take a look behind the scenes at Lifehacker. I’m Adam Powers, and that’s how I work.

Name: Adam Powers Location: New York Current Job: Video Producer, Lifehacker Current Mobile Device: Apple iPhone 7 Current Computer: Apple iMac 2018 One word that best describes how you work: Occasionally

First of all, tell us a little about your past and how you got where you are now.

I came from Boston, went to college for film production and editing, and soon moved to New York. I have worked for several major publications as a video editor and daily content producer.

Tell us about a recent work day.

On a busy (and therefore good) recent day, we did two sequential remote sensing shots that we did earlier this summer. We booked a fancy Airbnb in Midtown for filming our Summer of an Adult and filmed all day. I spend most of my days at my desk editing, rendering, or sending email, but on weekdays it gets exciting. Every shot takes effort, and what I enjoy most is spending the day solving lighting, camera, and blocking issues.

After a full day of filming, we loaded our cameras and equipment back into the elevators and Uber in the early evening rain to head across town for our second shoot at the YMCA pool in New York. We filmed the final swimming lesson for our Adult Learning series . Even after almost 12 hours of shooting, it was pleasant to keep the camera so close to the water’s edge.

What apps, gadgets or tools can’t you live without?

I am totally addicted to Flipboard and YouTube, although I am not suggesting to join those addictions. Plus, since my cat loves to chew on headphones, I can’t survive without my Bose wireless kit.

How is your workplace arranged?

We work in two locations here in New York: in our headquarters, where we edit our videos, and in our studio, where we shoot them. Most days I walk in between and I love it.

I have a new iMac with a second screen set on my desktop, with some of my favorite books lying underneath for motivation, and a golden dinosaur statue guarding my stickers. There are also many stickers. When working from home or on a side project, I usually lug my entire iMac between the bedroom and living room for editing, depending on what I’m working on. I also have a large drawing board at home that I use for drawing and stroking, which helps with the animation.

What’s your best shortcut or life hack?

A classic hacker that I taught myself to do without fail: Phone, Wallet, Keys. Every time I step out the door, from the train or from the car, I instinctively slap myself in my pockets (1 … 2 … 3 … done!). Because I’m such a forgetful person, it has saved my skin more times than I’d like to admit.

Also, the only way to enjoy a cupcake is to twist off the bottom and make a frosting sandwich.

Tell us about an interesting, unusual, or challenging process you have at work.

There is a trick I have used for several years to turn portraits into colorful pop art graphics. This is probably not the most streamlined or accurate effect, but I’ve used it a lot, including in our series on classical music :

  1. Take a photo in Photoshop and duplicate many layers, changing the hue of each to a bold, opposite color.
  2. Erase parts of each layer to create a blended composition.
  3. Take this composition in Illustrator and give it a high definition image tracing that will give it a smooth, posterizing look.
  4. Take this vector composition back into Photoshop for further customization and add an oil painting effect for good measure.

Who are the people who help you achieve results, and how do you rely on them?

Our video team is really talented. As our leader, Joel always stands on his feet, looks at the prize and tells a funny anecdote. Heather is an After Effects wizard and an unquenchable source of joy. Santiago is our director of photography, always on hand on set, and CJ keeps the studio working and busy for everyone. Video production is a team sport!

How do you keep track of what you need to do?

I don’t keep long, detailed to-do lists because I end up ignoring them. I cover my monitor with stickers with project names so that I don’t forget about everything while I work.

How to recharge or relax?

My husband and I play video games together after work. These include either overly complex dungeon crawlers or 1v1 anime brawls. Considering he’s a pianist and brains in my fingers, I almost never win, but that’s why it’s fun. Together we defeated several tough bosses, and when I need motivation, I remember these victories so as not to lose enthusiasm.

What’s your favorite side project?

Everything my husband will work on. He is a musician and composer for indie video games, podcasts, films and more. He is always working on a new tune in his studio and I spend most of my free time supporting and helping his freelance career.

What are you reading now or what do you recommend?

I read several issues from the current affairs section, including Us vs Them , White Fragility, and Age of Anger . And for fun, the new Pulitzer game winner Less is surprisingly adorable. If you’re a science fiction fanatic who wants something a little more mature than The Hunger Games , you should go for the Red Rising series.

Who else would you like to see to answer these questions?

Maria Bamford, Mike Hadreas (Perfume Genius) and Ronan Farrow.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Be responsible for the energy you radiate.

You do not need to “meditate” every day, but it is important to control yourself and check yourself every day. One of my first bosses advised me to keep a mirror on my desk so that I could “be aware of this face … with which we all have to work today.” He loved all of his employees equally.

However, the lesson was good. It is important to stay in harmony with yourself, to be aware of the attitude and energy you are putting into the discussion. This is especially true in relationships. People are emotional sponges and they will feed on the energy you bring in every day. So always try to choose positivity, confidence and honesty.

What problem are you still trying to solve?

I don’t have a great solution for the problem set. I would like to set aside a day and really focus on learning the best approach to getting an ultra-clear key rather than randomly tweaking the parameters. If anyone has a reliable technique or a preferred key effect / method, suggestions are welcome.


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