I’m Heather Huss, Creative 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 Heather Huss and this is how I work.

Location: New York Current job: Creative Producer Lifehacker Current mobile device: iPhone 8 Current computer: 2017 Macbook Pro (home) 2017 iMac (work) One word that best describes how you work: Collaborate

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

Although I moved a lot as a child, I mostly grew up between Coloma, Wisconsin (population 450) and Wisconsin Rapids (population 18,000). As a child, I always leaned towards the artistic side of the matter and attended as many drawing lessons as possible. I was in the orchestra too, because I was really cool. After high school, I studied animation and videography at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. There I focused on experimental animation and video, and creative ways to combine them.

I lived in Milwaukee for a few years after college, freelancing as an animator and video editor on several projects. I also played trumpet in a band called Altos and sometimes shot music videos ( here’s one ).

Somewhere along the way, I met my love, a writer named Sean Williamson , and we had a couple of boys, Theodore (just turned 5) and Sawyer (almost 2).

I have worked as a freelancer on a wide variety of projects, from advertising to short films. I have been a DVD menu designer / animator for a while. If you have a DVD player, you may have actually seen some of my work – I’ve done a lot! But when DVDs started to fall out of use, it was time for the transition. I decided to work as a freelancer again to be at home with Theodore when he was a baby.

In one of my freelance jobs, I was assigned to shoot a series of health insurance videos for Connecture. They eventually hired me as a senior marketing and design specialist and then promoted me to their senior media designer. There I was responsible for scripting, storyboarding, voiceover and music for videos, illustration and animation. I was busy!

Sean graduated from college about a year and a half ago, and we thought it was time to change the pace. I’ve always wanted to live in New York, so he applied for Sarah Lawrence’s graduate school and when he was accepted, we moved here! I went back to freelancing, even worked in Times Square (very interesting for a newbie).

Last year I was asked to film the Deadspin Awards for Gizmodo Media. I was then asked to help finish editing the project. I worked as a freelancer at Gizmodo, working on The Root, Jezebel and Lifehacker for several months until I was hired as a creative producer at Lifehacker, where I am now. This is truly my dream job, I have never felt so happy and satisfied with my career! I can shoot, edit, animate – a lot of different things that always amuse me, never get bored and always happy to be at work.

Tell us about a recent work day.

I’ll get up at 6 with Sawyer, make eggs or pancakes for breakfast. Theodore and Sean get up, I’ll make coffee. I either make a percolator for the stove or overflow and always use cream. I am very picky about my morning ritual. I love tableware and I enjoy using my china in the morning – well, really, as much as I can. For some reason, this is calming; I don’t know, I just agree with that. Then I jump into the shower – I need to shower every day, otherwise I don’t wake up completely. Sean prepares Theodore while I get ready and I walk Theodore to school and then I walk to the train. In the morning, I either read a book or listen to a podcast on the way. When I go out to Union Square, Icall William Oniabor and get to work!

Recently, the day started at work, where I edited Claire’s video, held a meeting and drove to another location for filming. We picked up the supplies and filmed the various uses of the silicone cups, and after saving the material, we walked back through Union Square to the main office, where I started editing again. I enjoy spending time alone to edit and work on my own, and then switch to a team project. Movement and rest.

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

I really like my pasta queen. When it comes to work, After Effects and Premiere are what I look at every day. You can do whatever you want with these two programs! Also, paper and pencil will always be my heart.

How is your workplace arranged?

I have a dual-screen setup on a standing table, although to be honest I don’t get up as often as I should. I have a couple of hard drives, a pen, and a laptop. I enjoy working with handwritten notes. I am also always surrounded by snacks. Most often I am surrounded by 2-3 drinks: coffee or tea is always in my vintage mug Nestle Hot Cocoa, then a bottle of water and, as a rule, a kind of seltzer. One of my hard drives is home to a tiny troll that Nick has kindly provided me.

What’s your best shortcut or life hack?

You can take many things with you on the plane free of charge if you bring your child with you. They always treat you very well too. You can take your stroller, car seat, baby carrier, Pack ‘n Play and all the baby food you need with you. And you can check everything for free if it’s for a child.

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

I work very closely with Joel and Adam at Lifehacker as they are other video people. I get a lot from our entire team when we brainstorm which hacks to shoot. It’s nice to work with such talented people – I feel that my ideas and opinions are appreciated, my voice is heard, but I am also not afraid to ask questions. Also Santiago is great for filming. He knows everything about the camera and is generous with his knowledge!

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

Old-fashioned pen and paper.

How to recharge or relax?

I’ll go downstairs and see if there are any snacks in the office kitchen. I especially love the little trail mixes with chocolate chips.

What’s your favorite side project?

I usually work on a music video of some kind. Right now, this is for the Bee Colony Collections . I love the experimental video, I feel like it keeps me on my toes and supports my creative ideas. Music videos are a great tool for bringing these crazy ideas to life.

I’m also starting to make children’s Halloween costumes. I sew those. This year my son asked him to be a bee, his brother to be a hive, and Sean and I to be flowers. I have 5 weeks to finish this!

What are you reading now or what do you recommend?

Right now I am reading The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay by Michael Schabon. Highly recommend!

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

Michelle Gondry is my hero.

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

From the truth : do not smoke.

From my document when I had a child: “Heather, it’s time to jump over the ring of fire, I know you want to run away, but just do it !! Push !!! “He was right, it’s time.

And the backup rule is 3-2-1, the old rule of thumb of the computer man:

  • 3 copies of everything you care about. Two is not enough if it matters.
  • 2 different formats. For example, Dropbox + DVD or hard drive + memory card or CD + emergency plan.
  • 1 remote backup. If the house burns down, how will you get your memories back?

What problem are you still trying to solve?

I connect my iPhone to my Prius. Seriously, I did everything. There are no hacks to fix this. Right, David ?


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