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What is video editing?

Video editing is the process of joining short clips of media together to make a complete programme. Source clips are usually 'live-action' footage shot on a film or video camera. Audio can be recorded with the video or separately and synchronised later. Other visual elements like animation, illustration and photos can also be used. Additional audio such as music and sound effects can be added to enhance the programme.

Editing is fundamentally about making decisions. Deciding what to leave out as well as what to put in. It's the same with video editing. Starting with more media than eventually needed the source footage is reduced to fit within the duration of the programme. The process involves selecting the best 'takes' that fit together in the optimum order within the time available for editing. Ultimately it's about telling a story that will engage a human audience in the most efficient way.

What does video editing involve?

Video editing involves a variety of different techniques depending on the genre, format and stage in the post-production workflow. But there are a number of typical considerations that apply across different programme types. Especially during the early stages of story structure called 'assembly'. For example when reviewing footage to decide if it should make the 'final cut' editors should consider the following:

• Composition - the subject should be framed appropriately
• Sound -  dialogue should be clearly audible
• Lighting - the subject should be well lit 

• Aesthetics - the appearance of the scene, props and wardrobe should suit the programme
• Performance - participants should have an engaging delivery

Does the dialogue really convey the story being told? Actual spoken dialogue often diverges from the original intention. Actors might deviate from the script and interviewees may not directly answer a question. Editors decide if such 'Ad lib' is 'fluff' or adds value to the story. 

Naturally these criteria should be considered before and during filming but editing involves selecting the best shots then joining them together so they flow.
The purpose is to retain the audiences attention throughout the duration of the programme.

“A film is born three times. First in the writing of the script, once again in the shooting, and finally in the editing” Robert Bresson, Filmmaker
A man cuts himself out of a sheet of paper
Editing is as much about what to leave out as what to put in

How long does video editing take?

The time it takes to edit depends on the type of video, system used and operator experience. One method used to estimate editing time is the 'edit ratio'. This is the relationship between acquired and edited footage. For example 10 hours of source media for a 1 hour programme would be an edit ratio of 10:1. The theory is the more footage you begin with, the longer it will take to reduce. A smaller ratio reduces the time required to edit.  However it is important to have enough material to cover the subject. With a lack of 'coverage' your options are are too limited. This can compromise the quality of the programme to the extent that additional effort is required to compensate for gaps. A 'rule of thumb' is to allow for 3 days of editing for each day of filming. Bear in mind the overall scope of work though. Be clear if this includes a rough draft or a fine cut with multiple revisions. Don't overlook audio and graphics. It's best to be frank about what is and isn't included before proceeding. 

What skills does video editing require?

Numerous skills are required for video editing which vary depending on the type of programme being made. Typical skills include the ability to follow a brief, having a 'nose' for story, sustained focus, attention to detail especially being observant and listening intently. Also good communication, diplomacy, general numeracy, literacy and above average IT competency. In short a combination of 'hard' and 'soft' skills.

Should I edit my own video?

This depends on how much time and budget you have available. Without experience it may take considerably longer than expected to learn how to edit and then execute a decent edit. Consider what's at stake if you miss a deadline or don't make a positive impact on the audience. One of the main arguments for outsourcing is the fresh perspective suppliers bring. You may be too close to your own content to be objective. Ultimately it's about telling a story that will engage a human audience in the most efficient way. This is an area where experienced professionals can pay for themselves.

How to choose a video editor?

Ask for referals, read reviews and testimonials. It is vital to watch examples of previous work. Do not rely on showreels or teasers (different projects mixed together to give an overview). Also look for single stand-alone projects which give a sense of the ability to tell a complete story in film. The examples should reflect the type or style of programme you want made. Talk to editors about the work to verify their involvement and understand their approach. Ideally choose a specialist in your field. Someone who knows your sector will have a deeper understanding of your needs and offer better insight.

At Sound Motive our approach is informed by a background in editing current affairs for broadcast. We believe pictures should be used to support the story. This also informs what we look for when we film. It has been said that the best camera operators were editors and we tend to agree. Naturally, we use the latest non-linear editing systems but what really matters is the talent - not the tools - employed.

Some examples of our editing work in the videos below...

Live-action film edited with animation

Live-action film edited with animation and graphics

Live-action film edited with animation

TO LEARN MORE OR DISCUSS YOUR PROJECT CALL 01865 582 121 OR EMAIL This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.