Video editing is hard. It truly is. The challenge is what makes it so rewarding.
Password for the editing workshop is Yediti
But what does an editor do? It’s more than just assembling shots together and calling it a day. It’s so much more than that.
Imagine having a 1,000-piece puzzle to put together. That’s hard enough, but now imagine that you don’t have a picture to go by – only a written outline describing what it could look like. On top of that, you don’t have exactly 1,000 pieces. Since most well-planned projects are shot at a ratio of 10-1 (ten minutes of captured footage to every one minute of footage used), you actually have 10,000 pieces to work with.
Editing isn’t for everyone, but if you like to tell stories, there’s no better medium than film and there’s no better tool than the cut (my keyboard shortcut is ‘H’).
As an undergrad biology major, I never once pulled an all-nighter (unless it was Halo). Memorizing facts and acing the big exams came easy to me. When I went to grad school for genetics, it was more of the same. Not once did I ever study all night for a test. All that changed when I went to film school.
Film school was the hardest pursuit I’ve ever attempted. Full stop!
While pursuing my Film MFA, all-nighters were a weekly occurrence. My food pyramid was built on a foundation of coffee and Red Bull. Long hours at the computer were necessary if you wanted your films to be the best they could be. It’s just a part of being an editor.
So what does it take to be an editor? Here are the key ingredients:
- Video Editing Software
That’s really all you need. The first three items are entirely up to you. The number one thing that will determine your success is time. How much time are you willing to invest? The more you invest, the more you will learn. The more you learn, the better your projects will be.
You can invest your time in different ways. Most of my time was spent with my butt glued to the chair in front of my computer monitor editing. I would edit any project I could get my hands on. I would edit my own project, and then go looking for more: student films, faculty projects, commercials, webisodes, demo reels, music videos… every project was an opportunity.
Another way I spent my time was watching films. But not just watching them for entertainment, but for revelation. I would pick films that I loved and that I felt had great editing. Films like Bullitt, Saving Private Ryan, Fellowship of the Ring, Bourne Ultimatum, and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly were some of my go-to studies. I would watch the films with a notebook in my lap while I took notes on what shots worked and what shots I thought could be done differently. It’s nice to stand on the shoulders of giants.
So needless to say, I was passionate about editing.
You have to be passionate about your craft. You’ll quickly find out whether or not you love editing. For me, I loved it almost instantly. Nothing tells a story better than cinema, and I would argue that no other film making role carries as much storytelling power as the editor.
If you have the passion, you can be an editor. If you combine that passion with obsession, then you can become a great editor. Most people are satisfied with good enough, but an obsessive editor will go the extra mile to transform a good sequence into a great one. You have to rise above, not for the sake of competition, but for the sake of telling a great story.
Next, you have to have a computer. Most people will tell you that to be an editor you have to buy a Mac, or at the very least a super fast PC. While it never hurts to have the fastest machine possible, I can tell you from first-hand experience that even a slow laptop can be capable of editing videos (just might take a little more time).
I’ve editing on Macs and PCs, and in the end they are just tools. Craftsman vs Stanley. Ford vs Chevy. They both accomplish the same thing, just in slightly different ways. Use whatever flavor you prefer. Just know that the brand will not make you a better editor. The same can be said of the software you choose.
The final item you will need is video editing software. There’s a lot of options out there, and most of them are pretty expensive. I’ve worked with Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut, Sony Vegas and DaVinci Resolve. All of them are great editors, but if you’re just starting out you’ll want something that’s accessible, doesn’t have a steep learning curve, and is cheap (free would be ideal).
I’m here to help. 🙂
I recently hosted a video editing workshop covering just the basics. You’re not gonna win an Oscar from watching this course, but you’ll learn enough to be dangerous.
In this workshop I share a few of my tips, tricks, and techniques to maximize your results on any video project. Most importantly, we’ll be using a video editing software that you can download right now for FREE! Doesn’t get any better than that.
My goal is for you to have the confidence to take your project from an empty timeline to final delivery.
Check out my free editing workshop today.