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What Exactly Does an Experienced Editor Do? This Short Animation Reveals Everything

The EditorWe live in an age where a 6-year-old with a laptop and a copy of iMovie can edit some footage together. Editing software is abundant and as easy to use as it has ever been, and the masses are using these tools to flood the internet with copious amounts of video content. But most of us can agree that simply being able to make edits does not necessarily make a person an editor, at least in the sense of the editing being a creative art form. However, it’s sometimes not clear what exactly an experienced editor can do, and what impact they can have on the final product of a film. Inside the Edit, a brand new online editing course, has put together a short video that demystifies the complexity of an editor’s job.

Here’s the video:

Many people who are just learning to edit should take note of the many points of this video. Editing is far more than simply taking the footage and slapping it together for continuity. Editing is the final revision of the script. It creates structure and form from an otherwise structureless mass of media. It creates a rhythm that an audience can subconsciously see and feel. Editing can create tension and release it. It can cause laughter or take it away in a heartbeat. Editing can be used to inform and audience, or deceive them.

And that, my friends, is what an experienced editor does on a day in and day out basis. That’s why it’s incredibly important for editors to be incredible storytellers above all else. It’s a job that requires a decent amount of technical knowledge, but the editor’s artistic impact on the final product is far too important for it to be considered a singularly technical job.

What are your thoughts on this video? Let us know down in the comments!

Link: The Art of Creative Editing – Inside the Edit


We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 65 COMMENTS

  • Hits total ? Could you elaborate ?

  • Ebrahim Saadawi on 04.13.14 @ 9:23AM

    Lovely! true. Thanks for posting

  • Brilliant and so very true. Love it.

  • Wowww tht was amazing and a brilliant work dude (Y)
    I was completely satisfied for that..

  • I have known some hard headed clients, that no even this video will help them understand the amount of work that is needed in order to make a outstanding piece.

    • While I loved this video, and think that it was beautifully executed, I don’t think it “de-mystified” anything.

      I think it likely resonates greatly with those who already believe its claims (like myself), but for those who aren’t aware of how critical and powerful a good or bad edit can be, it does nothing to teach or prove its points.

      So I loved the video, it really was beautiful and enjoyable, but it’s not something I would show to a friend to to convince them why editors are so important.

  • Would be great if the course weren’t 3000 Euros or $4166.00 for an online course. I consider myself a fairly knowledgeable person when it comes to editing. I’m personally fond of online courses because sometimes there are a few nuggets that I may not have thought of. While I enjoyed the video, these points were not new to me. At the price of this course I don’t think I would recommend this. There are plenty of books on editing that would be much more affordable. This is way too expensive for an online course in editing.

  • It it not 3000€, it’s 3000£, which is 3600€ ($5000). And that is for the first 100, after it 4800€ ($6600). It is extremely expensive.

    However. If it’s as good as it claims to be, it could be worth the investment. As a producer and director who often has to edit my own project, I feel my editing skills are holding some of my work back. And when I can afford an editor, I am often less than impressed (did not yet look for a very talented one though). If I could push my editing skills to a high standard and take on the editing on most of my projects, it could pay for itself quite quickly. That said, the amount is still frightening… the discounted sales alone would generate gross sales of half a million $. Hard to believe they could not make it cheaper and still not make a comfortable profit.

    They mention the Universal tracks but those only seem available to train, not to use in commercial productions. So how is that such a great thing? You can easily find free music to train online. The 30hours of documentary footage on the other can be useful.

    • Good catch pounds not Euros. This makes the course fee even more ludicrous than I initially thought, but very nice of them to offer you a 500gb hard drive to offset the expense. And wow, only $50 a month after your first year? I would have assumed I owned all the course footage after my first $6,600, but I guess they weren’t that generous.

    • I agree here.

      I would LOVE to take such an online course. In fact I did: from the archived courses found at Good course, but there’s ALWAYS more to learn.

      I’d love to take this course, but the fee is ridiculous. No one’s going to pay $5k for such a course!

      Lower it to around $500 for the course and you’ll have more people sign up and you can still make a profit!

  • I wish there was more info, more examples instead of just an animated infographic, but it’s a commercial, what can you do? :)

  • Derply Derp on 04.14.14 @ 5:37PM

    Wow. Anyone who pays for this course has way more money than brains.
    Nicely done comerci-graphic but I’ll echo what has been said by others, spend a couple hundred on some great books and watch a LOT of movies.
    Unless of course you are already independently wealthy.

  • True and not true. “Beware of all generalities including this one.”

    • The presentation was very well done.
      Overall, the message about what it means to be an editor was, I believe, right on target.
      I’m confused by some of the comments, especially ones using the word “shit”.
      Since this is (sadly) an age where words and phrases often mean nothing near what they’re originally intentioned to say (see: “That’s sick”, which means “That’s really good/amazing!”, when it SHOULD mean “That’s perverted”, or “That’s disgusting”) it’s hard to know what certain comments mean … especially when the commenter, when asked to elaborate, does not.

      The bottom line is, while taking an expensive editing course might make one’s editing deficiencies less deficient, they cannot replace the “gut feeling” possessed by the greatest editors. Theory, discipline, organization, technique are all necessary, but one can technically teach those skills to a robot. The robot doesn’t possess intuition.

  • I appreciate the technical and artistic expertise of every position in the film industry, but this is simply arrogant. This suggests that the director, writer and producer have nothing to do with the film after principal photography.

  • First, excuse my english, it’s not my mother tonge. Now, I think that this video, while lovely, does nothing to clarify the job of editors. It only contributes with the mysticism and it’s limited in it’s aproach. We editorsdon’t work from a vacuum of nothingness, we colaborate in a teem of brains and bodies the all go towards an common end, the final message is responsability of each and every one in diferent ways, and that’s not reflected. At the same time, it’s continues the very clasical and outdated aproach to the need for invisibility in the editors work. Stop it already with that, we’ve been over it already, it’s just an specific aesthetic, not the only way. My 2 cents…

  • I’m continuously confused by the people who comment on this site. As it’s “No Film School”, I can never understand how people pretend to be ‘experts’ in the comments or treat people asking questions or the posts themselves as if this isn’t a learning place for everyone involved.

    None of us know everything. “Only a Fool knows everything.” There is an abhorrent lack of constructive criticism. “Total Shit.” Thanks. That definitely elucidated the more problematic aspects of the video.

    Before you call bullshit on the video perhaps take a moment to get context. Did you expect this to be a step by step process of what an experienced editor does in their workflow? Then you were mistaken. Doesn’t make the video horseshit. The video accomplishes its job: Present the Editor as a creative and not part of an assembly line.

    Did it answer every question you’ve ever had about editing? No. Was it supposed to? No.

    You guys sound like someone criticizing the cover of a book for not explaining, in detail, every single things that happens in the book. That’s what the book is for people.

  • and, in case anyone is interested:

    MIT offers some courses for free (the coursework, DO NOT show up at their campus and tell them I sent you. i don’t know you dog.)

  • Beautiful animation, but I am skeptical as to whether it’s “call to action” ( signing up for this course is worth it. I’m sure it’s helpful and all, but also a considerable amount of money to spend for anyone who is early in their career.

    Any editors care to chime in on whether they have paid for/ taken similar courses (in terms of exclusively being focused on editing as a craft), and was it helpful? Could you have made the same advances by shooting your own material and/or editing someone else’s such as a student project?

  • absolutely beautiful animation and such an organic and perfect description of what editors do. definitely looking forward to this course, better start saving up!!

  • A. N. Editor on 04.17.14 @ 5:53AM

    As the article says, the world and his wife can edit.
    On smaller jobs I’ve been replaced many a time by “all-rounders” who know how to use Avid/FCP/Premiere, invariably because they are cheaper.
    The results are acceptable to those who are paying and probably most people who are watching.
    To an experienced or trained eye they are not.

    With the amount of media out there, expectation and standards have dropped off a cliff.

    One frame makes all the difference and you’ll miss us when we’re gone.

  • Over 50% will watch this video on a mobile phone and because the font is so small you can’t read it on a phone. Big mistake in my opinion.

  • I love the sentiment but this is more of a commercial for motion graphics design and less cinematic editing. No cutting rhythm, no montage…

  • I really wish this mantra of “you have to be able to tell a story” would die already. Cultivated popular taste for narrative in film-making is a standard that is still in the dark ages. Photo’s don’t need to spoon feed you a story or make much sense, neither does music and you certainly don’t legally need to apprentice to paint like in the Renascence age. Even theater (a medium movie companies co opted to make in profit in motion picture’s meager beginnings a hundred years ago), doesn’t need anything resembling a cohesive narrative to gain an audience. You don’t have to tell a story and I wish the work flow and interface of editing software would reflect this sentiment

  • This explains what we are.. Thank you

  • For me,you know the editing before you start shooting and while shooting you have the tempo of your frames in mind if it’s not the exact length.Nothing is made randomly to give the movie its pace.Directors like Steven Spielberg “cuts in camera” while shooting.For me it doesn’t work other way.
    Don’t count on the edit to save your movie.

  • I think the message in the video is TRUE but the delivery is off.
    As is, it looks to promote their motion graphics skills. A true editor should have done this with film footage and not with words you have to read. Show don’t Tell.

  • GoodBear Media on 06.5.14 @ 11:40PM

    That is a beautiful film! The graphics were smooth and beautiful! It successfully embodies what we do as editors, and how we feel about our work.
    Being an editor is to be that unknown person who makes the film a film. The one who is happy to have their job not noticed.

  • Isn’t the point that “the less you notice our work, the more successful we have been” a bit untrue? I mean, take any of Kubrick’s films which use dramatic and spontaneous cuts that are definitely noticeable but add to the experience.

  • Loved this animation on this! Really really good!

    Although I missed the bit where the client hand comes down and smashes everything into a trembling mess

  • David U Alfa on 08.24.14 @ 5:23PM

    Just watched the inside the edit advertorial-video, it is very impressive and reflective of the editor’s hard work.
    however, on general terms and question; what is the standard font size for texts that are not voiced and how well can they be legible or seen?

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