Back in the day when I was producing weekly shows in Colombia, I remember putting all my faith in “Alvarito”, my editor.
This guy was a magician! Not only an efficient operator but an organized mind, capable of giving a nice finished touch to our projects. A guy who took our job seriously and always gave every edit his best.
At the time, I enjoyed the power of keeping things under control. It was a lot of responsibility but I loved it.
My agenda was always organized; is the driver on time? Is the gear checked? Is the crew ready? But even then there was always a risk of something going wrong.. Why? Ask Murphy. It’s the law of production.
Luckily, I had “Alvarito” to help me trough those tough moments. I’m not gonna lie, post-production was my lifesaver a few times.
A few years later I became an editor and as “Alvarito” I challenge myself with each project. I came to find editing very similar to puzzles. My job is getting the best pieces of raw footage and telling stories by putting these pieces together.
Video is the go-to visual content today for a large number of businesses – so editors, we have a lot in our shoulders!
Editing, like storytelling, is all about the small details which helps to design a product that will speak to your target audience. Full disclosure: I'm not one of those editors who takes the footage, logs and transcribes each shot into text. That takes forever and I find it limits my creativity.
Here is how I do what I do:
Take a deep breath and dive in.
Sometimes projects get confusing, especially if I wasn’t in the shoot. So, I take a deep breathe, set up my timeline and just get to work creating my wide cut.
At this point I don’t pay too much attention to shots, narration or sound bites. I just try to take my best shot at telling the story I want to tell.
Then, I watch it front to back; no matter how long it takes or how boring it sounds. This is the moment when I get the key pieces of my puzzle - when I establish the line I want to follow.
I mark all those moments I know I’ll need and everything starts to make sense. For sure my next cut will be more clear and tighter.
Focus on the design.
By the design I mean all those details that enhance my edit, like music, Color Correction, GFX, VO, FX and much more if needed.
Watch it again.
If the result gets me close to the goal, I put on my brave boots and call the director and/or producer for their approval. I’m glad to say that most of the time I just have to adjust a couple of shoots or frames, render and goodbye! - getting OFFLINE before 5 pm.
Being able to customize elements makes me valuable as an editor and having freedom to shape stories makes my job exciting. Yes, some projects ask to be treated by the script, but b-roll and design elements allow for plenty of creative freedom.
Here are some tips that help me on my day to day job:
Take some time from the edit.
After spending so much time in the same edit, it’s easy to become desensitized to the material. So it’s important to step away. Taking a break from an edit and returning with fresh eyes can help you to do a better job.
Avoid one camera angle.
If your material includes multiple cameras angles, take advantage of it and make sure you switch among them. That makes your product more dynamic and interesting.
Once your audience gets the idea of space, you can avoid wide shots and jump into medium and close ups. It’s engaging to watch body language and facial expressions.
Remember, you are taking your audience on a journey with your video. Make sure you are using the best shots to achieve your goal and reach the viewer's expectations. Don’t forget, what you may have is less than 30 seconds to grab people’s attention So get them as quickly as you can!.
Never stop learning.
As editors we need to stay fluid and learn new tools. Make sure you can create an experience for the viewer. Motion graphics, voice over, animation, color correction, matched footage from different sources – these will help you create a dynamic product. You have a lot to do more than just edit.
Become a storyteller.
Also, knowing what works for your edits is more important than operating the software. Your goal is to create video that people will enjoy watching. Storytelling is definitely more important.
Respect the job.
Behind every video there is more than a tired editor. There is a supporting team.
If you are not an expert, hire one. I respect this job, and editing is not just cutting and pasting. It takes years to get good at it and that’s why hiring a professional makes sense. You get the best product this way.
If you're looking for inspiration on what content you should include in your video marketing strategy, download our Guide to the 7 Must-Have Videos:
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- The Ultimate Guide to Producing an Animated Video