Problem solving & the art of Editing
Recently, we were editing a tutorial video on an app. That is when our associate editor drew a blank. “This is basically the same shot, how can we NOT have a jump cut?” After using a trick with the footage and timeline size, we were able to solve the problem; which then got me thinking — You don’t learn this at film school.
The mantra of every editor in a deadline intensive environment needs to be “Work smart, Not hard.” Granted, good work takes time but one must never shy away from seeing how we can work smarter, faster and without pulling our hairs out in frustration — we can save that for the writers in the group. We must never stop thinking of how to reduce the effort we have to put in creating a look, a cut or even in the basics of arranging and finding footage.
1. Keep it simple, stupid
For me, I make it a point to ensure anyone on my team knows how to reverse engineer my edits and effects. Mind you, this is not the same for intensive animation or motion graphics but openings, text effects and slates, these need to have a level of simplicity to them. If that cannot be achieved in the process, the way we order layers and compositions can simplify the project enough to know “what the fuck is happening”.
2. How can I do this faster?
Before and after I finish an edit, I always take a second to think how to speed the process. We are working on a profile series at the moment and I ended up spending far more time than I expected on the intro and credits card. After backtracking a bit, our design head just said the most amazing words, “Just do it in photoshop”. Combining Photoshop and Premiere Pro gave me that effect in a fraction of the effort. It is essential that we continuously search for way to work smart not hard.
3. Content, Polish, Finalize
There is always a tendency, specially in beginners, to have the best possible cut in the first go — This is not possible; At all; Don’t do it.
A hard fact we had to learn, especially after working for hundreds of clients, is that an edit will never be as good in the first go — so don’t make it. The first priority in the first go must ALWAYS be on getting the content right. No matter what the genre is, the first draft needs to focus on putting the storyline together and cut out the fat as much as possible (it won’t be, but hey try your hardest). Content editing is a mentally taxing exercise and an element of merciless logic must come during this. Adding creative effects and polishing a cut that WILL (most probably) we trimmed again will just lead you feeling — “Fuck but I worked so hard on this”. So prioritize your edit — Content comes first, Then your polish and finally the garnish.
Editing, to me, came as a natural extension of the creative process. I used to write and shoot so I was naturally drawn towards completing the process. But now after nearly a decade of working with people who gravitate only towards certain aspects of the process, it is interesting to see how innovative we have to be during editing. Editing is not only where stories come together, but also where we have to think out of the box and solve things. I urge all editors to think of their craft as problem solving and see how quickly and painlessly they can navigate from point A to B.