Fine Art of EditingSo, you finally completed the filming process. Although you may have seen this as the hard part- it wasn’t. That was, in fact, the easy part. The hard part comes afterward, when you have to break out the editing program. While it may be difficult, editing is a necessary evil. It has to be done in order to retain all of the quality of your film while removing the parts that are of lower quality, the parts that will hinder your overall product.

Of course, before you do any editing, make sure to save the original copy of the film. That way, if you end up cutting something that needed to be in there, or something that ended up working after you thought it wouldn’t, you can start the editing process over again. One of the toughest things about editing is being able to critique yourself. Then again, many people tend to be their own worst critic. When you’re editing your own video, try to look at it from an objective point of view.

Proper Mindset and Editing Basics

If you look at your film from an objective point of view, then you’ll be more likely to see what is good and what is not. Obviously, you will want to cut everything that isn’t good. In the process, you may end up cutting something you originally liked as well. In fact, this is something that is highly recommended: edit a part that you really liked. Often, there are times when you might be really favorable towards a particular scene while filming it; however, it might end up losing something in the translation between the filming process and the end product on the screen.

If this is your first time editing and using an editing program, then be aware that you need to have a ruthless mindset right from the start. This means that you have to look at the video you have and start cutting everything that is bad, boring, or that otherwise does not work in the film.

Even if you may have liked certain scenes, you’ll know if they work or not when viewing them objectively. Being remorseless from the start and practicing that mindset continuously will enable you to edit to the best of your ability. The most important feature of an editing program for the first-timer is cut. As you get more practice with the editing process, you’ll learn the intricacies of your software and get better acquainted with the other features as time goes on.

Getting practice as an editor can have another beneficial effect. As your skills with editing develop, you’ll learn to film with the editor’s eye. What this means is that your future filming efforts will be done more efficiently and with higher quality. You will learn to film what you know is good and not to bother with the stuff that you know will be bad and just end up on the cutting room floor, so to speak.

What’s In and What’s Out

You know the old saying “Less is more”? Well, that saying rings true in editing as well. Just because it’s flashy and looks cool doesn’t mean that it needs to be in the finished production. Often, simplicity works best. Knowing what to keep and what to cut is crucial to good editing and a great end product. Naturally, anything that’s bad, whether it is a bad shot, bad angle, bad lighting, or anything else must go.

Whatever you end up with in the finished film needs to be good and it has to go with whatever you’re trying to show. In other words, if it’s not relevant to what you’re doing, then it must go. Everything you have in the original, as well as anything you might add in post-production, has to be relevant to the subject and worth showing. You may end up cutting half of what you filmed, but if that’s what it takes to have only the good, relevant stuff, then so be it.

Good-Looking Cuts

If your cuts are jumpy, the audience will know it. It is likely that you will know it too. Even if you have a series of events taking place in your film, you still have to get rid of the stuff that isn’t quality while keeping things in order. However, in this case, it’s how you make the cuts that really makes a difference. Think of a seamstress making a garment: if the seams show, then it’s a shoddy piece of clothing. This same mindset can be applied to editing film: when you’re cutting, you shouldn’t be able to notice the cuts nor the edits themselves. If you do, then you can be relatively sure that the audience will notice as well, and this is not a good thing.

You might be saying to yourself that you’ve seen films where the edits didn’t follow these guidelines, and in some cases, you’re right. However, these are finished films done by experienced editors, and so there may be a method behind the madness. There are instances where the edits look sloppy and in some cases these are done on purpose. Until you’re an established editor, stay away from complex editing styles where you’re breaking all the rules or making up new ones. After you master the rules of editing, it is then up to you to follow after a popular style or to create your own style.

Saving Different Versions, Undoing Damage

As you’re editing, you need to get familiar with the “Undo” and “Save As” functions. These two features are invaluable for editors, especially the novice editors. You have the original safely saved away in a file. Now that you’re working on editing it, you’ll need to save it again once you’ve done some editing. Of course, you’ll need to look at it and see what effects your cuts have had on the film. If something you did doesn’t look right, simply use the “Undo” function and try again.

You may end up saving the film’s file multiple times, so be sure you have a system of organization so that you know exactly where you’re at and what file contains what version or stage of editing you’re on. In fact, it’s a good rule of thumb to have several versions of your film saved. This way, you can make comparisons between each file in order to determine which one offers the best quality.

Good Storytelling

While you’re busy making sure that your cuts look right, don’t forget that the story must never suffer and that the audience should never be confused or left hanging in regards to the plot. The audience should never feel cheated. One good rule is to end at the beginning. In other words, you should end at the same place the movie began, but with obvious changes. So, remember to tell the story properly. This means telling a story that will capture the audience at the beginning and making sure that the story gets told right from the start. There must be some resolution, and never mind the stuff that is irrelevant to the story.

 About the only time that leaving an audience hanging is acceptable is if you intend to make a sequel. This sort of cliffhanger ending is okay. If this is not the case, then make sure you don’t leave the audience wondering what’s going on. The story has to make sense, be told in its entirety, and maintain a strong plot throughout. It also has to be clear. If you can accomplish all of these things, as well as doing a good job editing the film, then the overall film will be a success that the audience will love.