Film Editing ComparisonTo get an idea of the time and effort needed to follow these possibly new and complex processes, it will help you to compare the differences between video and film editing. Reviewing the video aspect first, the period of time between the shoot and logging processes should be about seven days or less, even with the help of an associate director. This is timeframe is contributed to by the need to make duplicate tapes with time codes, and then intensive screening.  A reasonable rate of progress for this action is about eight 20-minute tapes each day.

A reasonable time allocation for re-screening and note taking is between four days and one week, with code marking your script and the first draft in the next few days. This will depend to a significant extent on the quality of your notes and logs! Thereafter, another four or five days should be allowed for final screening and thorough annotation. In total, you are looking at a time period of less than three weeks, depending on how you mange your time and effort!

Once you have completed the previous stages, the progression is much the same as film or drama editing. Your annotated script and “logged selects” are received by the editor, who will enhance the project with his or her creativity and professional expertise. A particular knowledge of a subject is required for a documentary, and it could, therefore, be necessary for you or a director to devote extra time to the editing. Although you will want to give the editor creative freedom, you will also need to identify specific details and characters, among other things. On the time scale, a well-presented production from shoot-end to edit-end should be completed in six to seven weeks!

Film and Video Time Comparison

Turning now to the aspect of film, you should be prepared to add at least fifty percent to the time allocated for the video process, with some projects taking more than three months.  It is probable that you will complete the rough-cut, or assembling stage, in half the time allowed for video – maybe even in just a few days.  However, if you want top performance from the editor, with correct sound effects, music editing and first class work from the laboratory, then be prepared to allow a significant amount of time latitude.

The significant differences in completion times between film and video are due to various influences.  One of these is that with video, the laboratory work is carried out by the computer while you edit. In the case of film, with the end of an edit, there is the sound mix, taking about two days, followed by a painstaking laboratory procedure that may take two weeks to obtain the correct print.

There are exceptions to every rule. There have been instances whereby editors have condensed their efforts into four weeks and produced a praiseworthy film. In the realm of television, this same period can be used to edit and formula script a single episode. However, the largest time consumer in this particular process is the arduous and repeated version editing. This requires not only extreme attention to detail, but frame-by-frame editing with the added complications of various tracks, sound effects, negative matching, optical factors and more!

Regardless of whether you are involved in a video or film production, keep an open mind and be prepared for the end result to be different from its original concept. Characters and scenes can change or be removed, or it could turn out to appeal to female rather than to male audiences, which was not apparent at the beginning of shooting. Some scenes may have been shifted by the influence of your editor, producer or yourself. Dialogue may also disappear or make its presence felt in another part of the film, and some of your planned shots may be missing. Before resisting this type of cutting, re-consider carefully, as possibly more objective viewpoints can be extremely valuable.

The Editing Experience

For some filmmakers, the editing experience can seem like a roller coaster ride, with your enthusiasm rising and falling as various and surprising suggestions are given to you regarding your film creation. There are many and various instances in great films where cuts that were considered unworkable by the film-maker worked to the advantage of the film. This was probably due to the editor making the cut at exactly the right time. A film is an original creation and, therefore, the creator should be prepared to sometimes ignore the rule book to make the film better.

There are various methods of improving a film, such as utilizing stock footage, using step-printing to slow footage down, or even speeding it up. You can also change colors, use high contrast, use subliminal shots, eliminate and interrupt scenes, and many more innovative ideas.

The word “Retakes” can, for a producer, be a horrific concept.  Some realize, however, the need for them before a director, and in certain circumstances, retakes provide a filmmaker with the best of advantages. You have viewed the film in rough-cut and you now have the capacity to sculpt the shot to precisely what you want. Other benefits include re-dubbing a voice to change the tone and atmosphere, inter-cutting new footage or inserting images, and much more.

The opportunities offered to you by editing in film are extraordinary and almost limitless, more so than with video. The differences between the mediums are becoming more insignificant as the digital force takes over, but they are also creating significantly more expense. It is, however, motivating for a filmmaker to remember that despite the technical abilities and unique expertise of an editor, in film or video, it is founded on your vision and the footage you have shot.

To achieve the desired end result for your film, you must rely on the capacities and vision of the editor, who was known in the past as the “cutter.” This is a term that was dropped as the skills of a film editor have become considerably more complex than mere cutting. Ideas, emotions, images and symbols are some of the influences in films and videos, and an aware, talented editor has the ability to enhance what you have created!