The Art of Editing

The Art of Editing
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    A film maker can have a tight script, beautiful cinematography and moving performances, but the true quality of the final output is sometimes decided in the cutting room.


A skilled and talented editor can make magic out of chaos. They’re able to take miles of raw footage and cobble it together into a cohesive piece that can achieve levels of greatness.

No matter how technologically advanced the editing process becomes, the editor still must perform the same basic functions:

  • Connect the shots into a linear sequence that advances a storyline
  • Find and correct or delete mistakes
  • Adjust the timing of a shot or sequence with judicious cutting
  • Capture the film’s aesthetic

Editing really begins in the conceptual and pre-production stages of the film making process. The film overview and shooting script should keep the final vision or purpose of the piece in mind from the outset of the project.

Getting the lighting, shot setup and audio right during the production phase is also integral to the final production value. However, no matter how meticulous the director and camera operators are, there are often objects or continuity issues that go unobserved until the footage hits the editing room. That’s where an intuitive editor can make or break a project.

What Makes a Good Editor?

Bad editing is noticeable to almost anyone viewing a piece of film or video. However, good editing is so subtle that only a pro can recognize it. A good editor works on two levels: a macro level and a micro level. At the micro level, an editor must discern how the shots flow and relate to each other individually to form cohesion and smooth transitions. Macro editing guides how the film flows as an entity to advance the story and set a tone. A skilled editor is able to understand and maintain the delicate balance between these two approaches and use them effectively to elevate any type of film into a true work of art.

If you’re interested in making film and video production a career, there are video production courses available online and at local colleges and universities.


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