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Before editing, your project is basically just a bunch of shots. Okay, so that’s a little blunt, but the editing room is where your story comes together as you actually envisioned it. Nowadays we may think of editing as a skill for computer geeks – just log on to a forum debating the merits of Adobe Premiere, Final Cut or Avid to find out why. However, the art of editing also demands organization, discipline and a sense of narrative rhythm. In addition to all this, there’s a human component to editing: editors often have to spend long periods of time in a confined space with the directors, producers and/or writers.

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Depending on the length and format of your project, you might be sorting through hours of footage, not to mention inserts and audio. So maybe it’s a good time to get organized? After all, you want to be selecting the best clips, not trying to remember where the hell you stored them on your drive. Normally, a simple Video, Audio, Project Files and Exports folders embedded in an Overall Project folder will do the trick. Different editors use different filing systems though, so there might be one that fits your project or editing style a little better. Unless you’ve got a photographic memory, you’ll also want to name your files a little more descriptively than “Clip 1” or “Take 2,” though probably not to the extent of “the low angle shot of John and Maria in a passionate embrace after killing Maria’s husband.” If Edward Snowden has made you into a metadata junkie, that’s a huge help in this department.

Got Rhythm?

If you’ve ever heard a comic tell a good joke that falls flat, you know that timing and delivery can be crucial. Every shot in your project needs to hit the right emotional beat for exactly the right amount of time, while also conveying the important information and building the story. Sounds pretty easy, right? Well, the same way that a comic will practice a joke over and over again, you’ll probably need to go through a couple different edits of each scene before you find the right pace. And while we may think pacing means to keep everything short and sweet, the “gamer on Red Bull” rhythm and aesthetic can be just as jarring as a sequence that runs too long.

Sage Wisdom.

What not to do (Seriously, what?).

Be Considerate of Others

The editing room is where good stories come together, but it can also be where they fall apart. While there are plenty of stories about evil studio executives and test audience morons ruining the ending, disharmony between the editors, directors and producers has also derailed a few potentially great projects. It’s really important for everyone involved in the editing process to get along, or at least pretend not to hate each other in the spirit of collaboration. The best way to have final cut on a project is to produce the best cut possible. That isn’t going to happen if everyone involved is on the verge of aggravated assault. Sure, opinions may differ, but we remind you that you’ll all be spending some time together in a pretty small room. Also, it’s not a bad idea to make life easier for the other post-production crew. For example, your sound designer isn’t thrilled when there’s a dialogue track over six effects tracks over another dialogue track with no actual clips on the timeline. In short, don’t be a total dick.

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      We use Premiere, but Avid Media Composer is by and far the standard…FCPX works too. It’s all about rhythm anyway. End of the day, people are gonna be thinkin about your story and not the programs…find what works best for you.

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