First please accept my personal bias. I am an editor, so obviously I think this matters! But I also think for people outside of the film industry, editing is one of the least understood aspects of the film-making process. And that’s too bad because editing can make or break your film or video. Here is my list of 4 ways in which editing can either make your piece soar, or kill it before it even gets off the ground.
This isn’t always the editor’s choice, but very often it is, and it has a HUGE impact on the final product. You instantly know a “corporate” video by the cheesy music, which sends the message to most people “start tuning out right now.” On the other hand, the right piece of music can draw you in as the story unfolds. Music conveys so much. . . intensity, humour, sadness, hope, determination. It carries the emotional foundation for the words and images on screen, and if done right, it will help your film speak to the heart and truly move people as opposed to just hammering them with “messaging.” Finding the right music for your piece and making it work with the story is a most important part of the editing craft.
Pacing determines the rhythm of your piece–how long shots are held, or not held, cutting quickly from one location to another, or lingering on that opening sunrise for an extra few seconds. The key to doing moving pictures right is keeping people engaged with your content. Linger too long on something and your audience gets bored and stops paying attention. Cut too quickly and people get disoriented and confused, and miss important parts of your story. Want to transition from one thought to another? You do it with pacing. Want to make sure a particular point really hits home? Add a pregnant pause. That’s pacing. Another way to understand pacing is to think of really good orators, how they modulate their tone, building their ideas feverishly to crescendos, and then leaving pauses here and there for everything to sink in. All that is pacing, and in film and video pacing happens in editing.
Ahh, the story. The heart and soul of any film, . . . and any communication piece for that matter. Well, guess what? That story often unfolds in the editing process. You may have a great script, with a great story on paper, but 90% of the time, no 100% of the time, some element of that script doesn’t translate into the footage you actually shot. It needs to be re-crafted, sometimes reinvented in the edit. Great editors are great storytellers.
Just Making it Work
Here is the reality of the film-making process. Hours and hours, and thousands of dollars go into the planning and shooting a film. Then, you bring it into the edit suite and guess what? It doesn’t always work. It falls flat, or some sections don’t come together as expected, or John wasn’t available to be interviewed on the shoot day so we are missing a section of the script, etc. It’s often enough to make you want to throw your hands up in the air and give up. Well, despite all this, there is almost always a gem of a film still waiting to be uncovered, but it usually takes a lot of creative problem solving. In many ways, editing IS problem solving, finding the spots that don’t work and fixing them.
If you are looking to have a film made, make sure you have a good editor. Needless to say, here at Journeyman Film Company, we take editing very seriously!
What are your thoughts on the value of editing? Leave a comment
And here is a short film showcasing some GREAT editing: