I know. I know… Cheesy title. But, you get what you pay for.
Let’s just assume that everyone thinks they know what video editing is, and to a degree, they do. I mean, Apple and Windows certainly feel that way with iMovie and Windows Movie Maker, and anyone can use those tools.
At least with film, you could literally cut the film at the exact point you wanted the cut. I was just, kind of, flying around in the dark and hoping for the best. It worked okay, but, am I glad that digital became affordable and attainable.
When I finaly got into digital (or Non-Linear) editing, I had to pay (or my parents paid) around $120 for some editing software called Pinnacle Studio that came with a computer card that would allow me to hook our camcorder up to the computer to capture the video. It was hot stuff. Now, looking back I don’t know that I could even operate it anymore, but, that’s another story.
Bring on the Big Guns!
Now, we (Hamil Bros Studios) use professional video editing software. The proper term for the video editing software, and something you may hear in the video world, is an NLE which stands for Non-Linear Editor. Basically it means, that you can take whatever video clips you have available and slap them in a timeline in whatever order you desire, and move them around, add transitions, and so forth without ever physically having to cut any kind of film and you can work on whatever section you want. You can jump around anywhere in your timeline that your giddy little heart desires.
The other great thing about editing this way is that you can add effects to your clips and watch them back without having to commit them to the footage in an irreversible fashion.
A Video Editor’s Job
Now that we’ve taken a brief overview of editing software, let take a look into what goes into the edit.
There’s a ton that goes into it and it really does vary by project, but, the editing always has the same end goal in mind: to take the video clips and fashion them into the story in a way that fits the emotion of the message and in a way that brings the director’s vision to life.
When it comes to this, unless the editor is some kind of genius prodigy, lots of experience is required and most real editors will tell you that they never stop learning better ways to mold the story.
So, without going into tons of boring details about the editing, let’s talk about what the editor does.
The editor has to find the pace of the scene. You’ve probably seen television commercials where there were a ton of shots packed in and, deep inside, you felt extremely overwhelmed. It was paced too fast and there was information overload. You ultimately muted the TV and chalked it up to, “Well, that’s why I hate local TV commercials…”
You’ve also seen interviews where it feels like the person droned on forever and you decided to DVR that segment to help you the next time you were fighting insomnia. That was paced way to slow.
Then, you’ve seen the movie where, whether you realized it or not, a shot is going really long and it starts to make you feel uncomfortable. Maybe, it’s a suspense movie and an adopted girl moves into a house with a creepy stepdad who seems mentally abusive. The camera is looking from her point of view and he’s telling her a story that obviously has dark intentions behind it’s meaning. The camera stays on him as he paces back and forth and moves closer to the girl. He keeps talking and moving closer and you feel yourself start to squirm and you’re extremely uncomfortable just wishing the camera would look away but, it doesn’t, and for the rest of the movie, he gives you the creeps. That pacing is extremely slow, but, it’s on purpose and you feel exactly what that little girl feels: insecure and unsafe.
Let’s pretend that when that scene was shot, the director decided he wanted some shots of the girl so we could see how uncomfortable she was, and maybe a wider profile shot that would show this man slowly creeping into her comfort zone, but, the editor felt like it took you, the viewer out of the hot seat for too long and made the decision to stick with the long shot. When the director sees it, his reaction is, “wow, that was way creepier than I was anticipating and makes the dad feel even more scary. I love it!”
A good editor knows what the audience is supposed to feel and how to make them feel that way by manipulating the footage.
This is not a fast process and, as you can see, there is a lot more than simply trimming clips and putting them in order.
In the next blog post, we’re going to look into compositing, or placing multiple elements in the same shot.
If, at any point, you have any questions, please email us at [email protected] or you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Hamil Bros Studios is a high quality video production company based in Lubbock, TX. Their work spreads throughout West Texas, Eastern New Mexico, and beyond.