Author Malcolm Gladwell once said mastery of a craft requires 10,000 hours of practice—so for editors, that's about—what—a week's worth of work?
Okay, it's probably a little longer than that, but it's still true—practice eventually, probably, hopefully, makes perfect. But there are a lot of other things editors have to do to become masters of their craft. Sven Pape of This Guy Edits offers up 7 tips on how to be a more effective editor, namely one that people want to hire.
Here are the tips Pape lists in the video:
Edit a lot
Again, practice, practice, practice. Yes, you can take classes, learn from videos, and read a ton of books, but getting to work is the only way you're ever going to make significant headway in getting better at your craft. So, get busy editing. If you don't have any projects to work on, try editing random/stock footage to try out new techniques. Not only will your skills improve, but your creativity will really start flowing.
You don't have to edit a feature to practice your skills. It might be smart to start small and edit some shorts, commercials, or music videos. (I highly suggest doing several music videos.) The task isn't necessarily any easier because it's smaller, but it is a little more digestible.
Edit with purpose
It's one thing to edit something on your own time. It's a whole other thing to edit when you've got a deadline snapping at your heels. I'd even venture to say that working with deadlines and expectations, knowing that there's an eventual audience on the other side makes one edit a little differently.
Pape suggests editing with a purpose, in other words, working for an end product, something that will eventually be seen by others. So, upload your stuff online, get feedback. It's a good way to get into the mindset of someone who produces something for someone else—you know, like a client.
Editing is a technical and creative craft. So, part of being a good editor means knowing your shit, but another part, probably the biggest part, is being creatively unique. Any adept individual can cut up shots and make a decent sequence, but only you can do it your way.
Be ready for crisis
Remember, editing is part technical. You should know your tools—your NLE, video platform, data transfer, etc—well enough to solve any issues that may arise, because even though it's annoying to have your work halted by some stupid technical problem, it may turn out to be a reason for clients not to hire you next time.
Respect your niche
Do you keep getting hired for the same type of projects? Well, that's kind of typical. (I worked on three consecutive horror flicks before I ever was approached for anything else.) Pape advises you to respect your niche, because even if you don't necessarily love it, it's giving you editing experience (and hopefully a paycheck). Besides, you can plan your crossover into other genres on your personal time.
Be a storyteller
Editing isn't just cutting together a bunch of shots. It's telling a story. Learn all you can about the language of editing. Study Eisenstein, Pudovkin, and the other forefathers of Soviet Montage. Glean wisdom from world-class editors, like Anne V. Coates, Thelma Schoonmaker, and Walter Murch. Oh! And keep practicing!