Vashi Nedomansky has some wise editing words for you to live by.
Many say post-production is where movies are really made, which can be an equally thrilling and terrifying anecdote to hear as an aspiring editor. So, how do you approach the very important and at times complex role of being an editor?
In this video, Sven Pape of This Guy Edits talks with experienced editor Vashi Nedomansky about how he manages his work technically and creatively, distilling his advice into 7 commandments (if you will) of film editing.
Check it out below:
Watch Every Frame of Footage at Least TWICE
Vashi suggests watching your footage twice: once from start to finish without taking notes, and once from start to finish while taking notes. Why so much watching? Because you're the editor...you're the guru of the tape, you're the master of the strip, you're the expert that should know every second of that footage front and back, upsidedown and rightside left or whatever. Essentially, intimately knowing the content that you're working with will help you create the best edit possible.
Nurture Your Relationship with the Director
Your relationship with your director is going to get really intimate. You're both stuck in a tiny, probably fart-smelling room for days, weeks, or even months working on a project that is no doubt making you both at least a little homicidal.
Vashi's advice: be soothing, comforting, and calm. Make sure your director not only knows their film is in good hands but also that they have the space to continue to create. Also, get reference points early on.
Be Organized (Very, Very Organized)
Nope, even more organized than you're imagining right now. Be so organized that you'll be able to pull up a shot, any shot, upon request. This isn't just to ensure that you're as efficient as possible, it's also to ensure that you'll be able to give or show your director whatever they need when they need it.
Make Time for Renders, Crashes, and Other Time-Sucks
Editing takes a long, long time. We all know this. However, when determining how long a certain project is going to take, it'd be wise to not only factor in the predictably time-consuming things like renders and exports but also unexpected things like crashes and errors.
Experiment With Stuff That Shouldn't Work
Be open to experimentation, you guys. It'll help you grow your craft, your style, and your clientele (probably). This could mean going really wide and throwing out everything Eisenstein taught us about montage, but it could also mean trying a new transition, cutting a shot a little longer than you normally would, or even opting for a take or a shot you never would've tried before. You never know what effect two shots are going to have until you put them together.
Audio Matters...So Much
In films, there are two big babies that need babas: video and audio. Unfortunately among new filmmakers, Video Baby is hella cute and chubby, while Audio Baby is making people call CPS on your neglectful ass. Audio Baby needs you to pay attention to its needs to make sure that it grows to become a healthy Audio Big Boy, full of depth with a clean sound. The lesson here: Don't neglect your audio, gang.
"Cut for the Scene" but...
Hardly anyone cuts a film from the start of the picture to the finish. You break it up into more manageable segments, like scenes and sequences, cutting it all together to make sure that they make sense. The issue that a lot of newcomers run into, though, is their individual edits make sense within the context of the scene, but their scenes don't make sense within the context of the entire film.
So, if you've ever watched a movie that had that weird "episodic" feel to it, almost like each individual scene is kind of its own thing, that's what's going on there. Editing these scenes together so they not only communicate the overall theme of the film but also serve its story is crazy important if you want your project to be considered well-edited.
How do you do that? Take a look at Vashi's "macro" approach on his blog to get an idea of how he sees films. Dubbed "Vashi Frames", Vashi takes every single individual shot from his favorite films and lays them out in one big high-res image. Makes for great analysis!