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Film/video editor: Job description

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A film or video editor is responsible for assembling recorded raw material into a finished product suitable for broadcasting. The material may consist of camera footage, dialogue, sound effects, graphics and special effects. This is a key role in the post-production process and the editor's skill can determine the quality and delivery of the final product. The editor may be part of a team and they will usually work closely with the director to achieve the desired end result.

The majority of film/video editors are employed on a freelance basis, working on short-term contracts for post-production studios, television companies and corporate employers. Editors may work on a variety of productions including feature films, television programmes, music videos, corporate training videos or commercials.

Typical work activities

Digital technology, specialist computer software and high-quality digitisation of sound and pictures have effectively replaced the traditional manual method of cutting film. Depending on the product, an editor may be very involved in creating the narrative, structure and tone of the programme or film. In some situations, they may be given creative freedom while in others they may be needed merely to operate the machine.

The process of work for an editor involves:

  • receiving a brief, and maybe an outline of footage and/or a shot list, script, or screenplay;
  • assembling all raw footage, with camera shots either recorded or transferred onto video tape in preparation for inputting into the computer;
  • inputting uncut rushes and sound, and synchronising and storing them into files on the computer;
  • digitally cutting the files to put together the sequence of the film and deciding what is usable;
  • creating a 'rough cut' (or assembly edit) of the programme/film and determining the exact cutting for the next and final stages;
  • reordering and tweaking the content to ensure the logical sequencing and smooth running of the film/video.

Additional tasks may include:

  • overseeing the quality and progress of audio and video engineering and editing;
  • consulting with the director, producer and/or client throughout the post-production process;
  • familiarising yourself with the style of specific directors;
  • experimenting with styles and techniques including the design of graphic elements;
  • selecting the most effective shot of a scene in terms of drama, story relevance or continuity;
  • writing voiceover/commentary;
  • suggesting or selecting music;
  • if freelancing, negotiating rates of pay and conditions, managing business affairs, and/or liaising with an agent.

The final stage of the process requires the skills of the online editor, who is often employed in a specialist post-production facility. An online editor is responsible for delivering the final product to the required specifications. Their role is focused on technical aspects such as correcting faulty footage, grading/colouring, and adding special effects to finish the film or programme. In lower budget productions one editor may perform both the offline and online editing.

 
 
AGCAS
Written by AGCAS editors
Date: 
July 2012
 
 

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