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A Commentary About Editing



Thanks to nonlinear editing, a video producer can now experiment with the edit in ways never before possible with traditional editing.  Since it is easy to rearrange shots on the timeline, a producer can endlessly try alternate edits of the same material as many times as he wants without wearing out his tapes.  One can also go nuts and waste lots of time by trying out the numerous (and often meaningless) transitions and effects that the various editing systems offer.


While it is wonderful having this flexibility, it can waste large amounts of time.  With experience, a good producer, after seeing the first edit only once, will know what to do to make the program better.  Good producers also have the ability to be very aware of how any changes they are making to one segment will be seen in context.  The inexperienced producer, unfortunately,  may work on one section to the point that it doesn't "fit" within the rest of the video anymore.


















One of the hardest editing skills to acquire is "erasing your brain" each time you view your production, so that you can see it again for the "first time," like the rest of the world will.  Often it is a good idea to take a break from the project for a day or two, and then look at it again.  It is amazing how a night's sleep can give you a fresh perspective.  Even so, it is nearly impossible for most people to separate their previous feelings about something when they see it again.

I believe it is always better to have someone other than the producer be the editor.  And if you are thinking about letting a cameraman edit his own footage, it is even more important to use an independent editor.  It is just too easy to fall in love with a shot that may not have anything to do with the point of the program.  An independent editor can really see the material like the rest of the world will see it.  It doesn't  matter to him what went on during the shooting, or how difficult it was to get a particular shot.  All that matters to an editor is whether or not the edited video makes sense, and if it communicates its message.  He is not hampered by any irrelevant facts about the material.  He only knows what he sees on the monitor, and that's all that matters.









To be fair, I have known some good producers who are truly objective, and are pretty good at erasing their brain.  Some cameramen even make good editors.  So there are some exceptions, but they are exceptions.


Leaving the editing to an editor is the best decision a producer can make.  It is the only way for the material to be evaluated objectively.





















Copyright 2002 by John Primm.

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