Topic: P&P: General Editing

I was talking with Dave in the chatroom, discussing my process (these days) for editing. Dave is the goddamned superhero who is finally editing that Road Trip project we all shot in 1999, and he's just now learning Premiere while he cuts it, so some pointers weren't strictly unwanted. In the end, I gave him a brief list of steps.

He said I should write that list up in a thread, and that seemed like a very good idea, for a few reasons.

  • It's a handy reference checklist for how to edit a thing like I tend to edit a thing (Web shorts).

  • And maybe how, say, Eddie edits a thing. (Real shows.)

  • And Trey. (Porn, mostly.)

  • And anyone else.

And it seemed like a good idea for one final reason.

  • We could have a bunch of Process and Procedure threads like that, from all the various film and audio professionals at our disposal in this here forum.

We've got Grade-A audio guys on this board, more than our share of FX artists, several editors, and all the rest of it. We could do P&P threads for things as broad as "general editing," and as specific as "really good motion tracking." It's possible this could become a whole 'nother board on the forum, with a P&P Request thread and everything. Or not. We shall see.

In any case, let's see what happens with this one. I'll establish a format for these threads here, if you want to add your P&P on the subject, please mimic that format. Additional General Editing P&Ps posted in the thread will be linked in the first post, so the first post has everything you need to get tips from as many people as possible. (P&P's for other stuff get their own thread. If there's enough of 'em, I'll bounce those topics to a new board.)


This is my process and procedure for [general editing.] In this post, I will tell you how I [go from having a bunch of footage on a hard drive to having a finished short, suitable for the web.] My level of expertise on this subject is [high-functioning amateur,] and I'm [particularly] interested in feedback and questions.

Other P&P's on this subject are available from [Jeffery Harrell.]

0. Shoot.

If you happen to be shooting the footage yourself, I tend to copy files off my cards into individual folders while I'm shooting, labelled to make my life easier later. My format is informal, usually "[Date]-[Camera]-[Scene or Person or Location]-[Dump Number]," where the camera refers to which camera it was shot on if I had multiple cameras, scene/person/location refers to whatever is the shortest way to clearly describe for myself what's happening in these shots, and dump number refers to which load of shots this is, in the same category. (I often fill up a card and need to back it up and clear it before I'm done with whatever similar-stuff I'm shooting, so there'll be the 1[st] folder like that, then maybe a 2[nd], maybe a 3[rd].)

1. Backup.

Copy all of your footage into a backup folder, ideally an external backup folder. Save your ass.

2. Import.

Import your footage into Premiere. (Or whatever, but I use Premiere.) Make sure you have a ton of hard drive space on whatever drive is holding your conformed (auto-transcoded by Premiere) audio files, because that shit adds up immediately. Pro-tip: if you're done with a project for realsies and need to clear up a lot of HD space in a hurry, search your machine for .CFA files. These are duplicates of all your audio that Premiere made when you were working on the project for use in realtime playback. It can remake them if you need to go back later, so it's not the end of the world, but don't do this mid-project. In any case, we're talking tens and tens of gigs if you let things get out of hand.

3. Log.

Fake-log. Real editors have a process for logging that is much more complicated than what I do, and it's overkill for this kind of thing, but the idea is tremendously useful. Watch your goddamned footage, and take notes. Timecode notes. Clip name, then at 00:00:45:12 is a take of this, then at 00:01:06:04 is another take, then at... and so on. Right now you're looking at me like "dude, gimme a break, that's a huge time investment up front, and I won't even need most of those takes." Yep, you're right. We're being efficient here, so I'll spare you the reasoning for doing this. I'll simply say that you will save so much time overall, and trust me. Eat your veggies, brush your teeth, log your footage.

4. Make your stringout.

Stringouts. Another concept I've lifted from the real editors, pared down, and repurposed for use in my workflow. Make a sequence (or many, many sequences - invent a pipeline for this depending on the project, web stuff is all over the place) wherein you just string out the takes in a row, with maybe a second of empty space between them. Just the takes, not much breathing room on either side. Line-one-take-one, one second, line-one-take-two, one second, line-one-take-three, one second, and so on. Arrange them all into a nice little string in your sequence.

What I tend to do once I've reached the last take of line-one is select all the line-one takes in my stringout, and change their label color to all be Color #1. (In the list of color label options.) Repeat this process for line two, and select all the line twos and make them Color #2. What you end up with is a sequence (or many sequences, whatever) of JUST your raw footage with ALL the empty space removed, divided by color into individual lines, where no two successive lines are the same color. The use for this will become evident soon - in the meantime, eat your veggies.

5. Make a rough assembly.

For the purposes of this list, we'll imagine you have one stringout sequence, which we'll call Sequence 1.

Make a new sequence, Sequence 2, that will be your rough assembly. Go into Seq. 1 and pick your favorite line-one take from all your line-one options. If I have a bunch of takes to choose from, often I'll "rate" takes as I go to help myself remember which ones I liked. My favorite way to do this is with tracks. If I don't care for a take, I leave it where it is, on track V1. (That is, of the various "layers" up and down the timeline I can put video on, it's on the bottom.) If I sort of like a take but am hoping for something better, I drag it up to V2, and press on. Whenever you make a decision to use a take, move that take up to V3. (This way you can always come back to the stringout and see which take you used, and also which other ones were candidates.)

Copy your V3 winner take, and go to Seq. 2 and paste it at the first available moment on the timeline. In this case, that'll be the beginning.

Do the same for line two, paste it at the end of line one.

Rinse, repeat.

6. Save.

Obviously you should have been saving all along, but once you have an initial version of your rough assembly, save that as yourmovie_v001, and then save it again as yourmovie_v002. This way you can always come back to your initial rough assembly if shit goes haywire later. Increments, people!

7. Edit your story.

Ooooh, that new-increment smell. v002 is gonna be good, I can feel it. Duplicate Seq. 2, your rough assembly, and call it Seq. 3. This will be where the real fun happens. You're looking at what is basically an uber-stringout, the stringout of best takes. All your grunt work is done. It's a ball of clay in your hands. Edit freely, as you see fit. Tell your story. Cut things, move things, re-arrange things. Swap takes if you want. It's trivially easy, just go back to the stringout and find a same-color shot on V2 that works better with your edit.

See? You ate all those goddamned veggies so when you're editing, there's absolutely nothing in your way. You can be creative and spontaneous, and never have to search for anything. You know where it is, or know how to find it in two seconds. Be free, wild horses!

8. Get notes.

Save v002 for the last time, and then save it again as v003. Now, go find opinions. Get notes.

You're not good enough to not get notes. There's like two, maybe three people on Earth who are that good. Going out on a limb and saying the overwhelming majority of Oscar-winning editors would still benefit from some notes. Show it to someone, show it to several people, find out what's working and what's not. You're way too close to this thing to be able to see it clearly - if nothing else, you know the fuckin' hoops you had to jump through to make a moment work, so you're all hung up on how impressed you are with making it "work" and can't tell, objectively, if it's doing what it needs to do.

Make your changes, then maybe do another round or five of "save-and-increment-and-get notes," until you've got picture lock.

Oh, congrats, by the way. Cool movie bro.

9. Fix your audio.

In Premiere, it's super easy to get your audio over to Audition for some plussing.

Select Seq. 3, and go Edit -> Edit in Adobe Audition -> Sequence. One second handles should be fine, but it doesn't hurt to go longer. Audition should open automatically.

Once you're in Audition, go through all your clips and make them match each other appropriately. Match the volume of the dialogue throughout all, you shouldn't go above -6db right now, so aim there, maybe -7. Run the best Noise Removal you can on your noisiest clip, and match all the other clips in your scene to that one. Do not-too-invasive noise removals on every other clip, and then match the noise you're stuck with from your noisiest clip across the whole scene. (Ideally you can sample just the noise from that clip and copy/paste it into a loop with smooth transitions. You could also import that whole original piece of raw video into Audition, and try to find a longer sample.)

Once all your audio sounds very consistent and there's no weird clicks or crappy transitions, you're done. Save your Audition file, then go File -> Export -> Multitrack Mixdown, and save a high-quality AIFF. (Make sure the version number matches the version of your Premiere project, for bookkeeping.) (Fun fact, "bookkeeper" and its permutations make for the only word in the English language with three double-letters in a row.) (Just sayin.')

10. Mix your sound.

No, that was just fixing the audio, now we're doing the sound mix. Duplicate Seq. 3, call it Seq. 4, which will be the sound mix assembly. In this one, delete all your audio. (Selecting clips, and "Unlink Audio and Video"ing.) Don't delete your audio in Sequence 3, you fools! Sequence 4 only!

Import your mixdown into Premiere, and drag it into place in Seq. 4.

Now, go through the scene and place sound effects and music. Don't worry about leveling or transitions too much for now, just get them in there. is an amazing resource for this. Same goes for music, place it where you want it, level it just enough so you can hear what's going on, and get all your ducks in a row. I'm assuming your music is something you just stole from somewhere else, existing music. If your music is a proper score done by someone who knows what they're doing, tread lightly with it for now, and discuss it with them. You're on your own.

Once your sound FX and music are all when they oughta be, take this sequence into Audition, same way you did the first, and go nuts. Level things appropriately, add the right amount of effects for what you're trying to achieve, and level things until they sound right both with headphones on and with speakers. (If you work on your laptop, a quick thing to do is run down to your car with the laptop and plug your laptop's headphone jack into your car's auxiliary input to hear it on those speakers.) Last thing, on your music track (I tend to do this literally on the whole track in Audition, like tracks in your video editor) is make room for dialogue in the music. There's a quick effect in Effects -> Special called Mastering, where one of the presets is "make room for vocals." Toss that sucker on there. Basically it's just an EQ cut in the frequencies most commonly associated with speech, so the song is subtly quieter in the area of the mix where the dialogue will be. Export this mixdown like you did the first time.

11. Finish post.

In Premiere, duplicate Seq. 4 to make one last sequence, Seq. 5. Delete your sound fx clips, and drop in the sound fx mixdown. Right click on the combined video track (Seq. 4's video), replace with After Effects composition, and do whatever color correction and titles you want to do before calling it a day. Save your AE project, close AE, and go back to Premiere.

12. Export.

File -> Export -> Media

I tend to export to Quicktime, H.264 compression. Make sure your quality is cranked to 100%, and do your filesize math using bitrates.

This will be easy, okay?

For the purposes of conversation, compression is a matter of balancing of two factors: how many seconds of shit you're making, and how much filesize you're willing to spend on each second. Say you have a sixty second video, and you want it to be sixty megs - you want it to be a megabyte a second. Right?

The only confusing factor here is terminology. For video, datarate is measured in kbps or Mbps, where the b means bits, not bytes. Kilobits and megabits.

1. There's a thousand kilos in a mega. (Unless it counts in binary, in which case 1,024, but shh.)

2. A megabyte is eight times bigger than a megabit.

To get one megabyte per second, you need to set your compression at eight megabits per second. Don't ask why, just take it as read, this is how the world works. There are a thousand kilobits in a megabit, so if you're looking at something with kbps instead of Mbps, 8,000 kbps is one megabyte per second.

Want a rule of thumb you can learn once and forget everything else? Use 10,000 kbps for something that needs to be good, but size matters. Use 30,000 kbps for something that needs to be great, and size doesn't matter. (And a wonderful dirty trick is to export it at a very high bitrate, upload that to YouTube as unlisted, and then download it from YouTube once it's done processing. You'll get back a full rez MP4 with Better Than This compression, and thusly a smaller filesize, without sacrificing too much quality.)

Obviously the higher the resolution, the more information you're trying to fit into your second-of-time. A sixty second long, 8,000kbps video will yield a much prettier picture at 720x480 than it will at 1920x1080. (But both will be sixty megs.) You're going to give or take a bit on the ultimate filesize, because audio has to go in there too, but it usually doesn't account for more than ten percent of the filesize.

If you want to do the math yourself, I'm pretty sure this is accurate:

your desired filesize in megabytes
divided by
the total number of seconds in your project

multiplied by
how many kbps to use when encoding

Or, you can just look at the bottom of your Export window, where an estimated filesize will be displayed as you change your settings around.  smile

Anyway. That's how I do it. Surely everything I do could be better in some way, but the system works, and if you're wandering in the dark in terms of P&P, it's way better than nothing.

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: P&P: General Editing

This is sweet. No really, it couldn't have come at a better time. I'm no film maker by any means, but I do want to do projects like the Road Trip or LCC or something like that and edit it without it sucking.

So, can you test drive Audition? I know, I know, I should buy it and Premiere, but that might have to wait until a little later, unless there are student versions for cheaper wink

So, until I do get it, is *whisper* Windows Movie Maker ok? I mean, just to test drive. I'm just asking because it's for a friend...

God loves you!

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Re: P&P: General Editing

I really wish this thread existed a month ago before I started editing, because goddamn do all these suggestions make sense in retrospect.

Also: This thread rules. Teague, you rule.

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Re: P&P: General Editing

I haven't edited porn for over a month now.

Re: P&P: General Editing

fireproof78 wrote:

So, can you test drive Audition? I know, I know, I should buy it and Premiere, but that might have to wait until a little later, unless there are student versions for cheaper wink

$20/month for everything they make.

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Re: P&P: General Editing

Dorkman wrote:
fireproof78 wrote:

So, can you test drive Audition? I know, I know, I should buy it and Premiere, but that might have to wait until a little later, unless there are student versions for cheaper wink

$20/month for everything they make.

I'll look in to that, thank you.

God loves you!

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Re: P&P: General Editing

This is fuckin brilliant.

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Re: P&P: General Editing

Also, I'm going to flat-out buy CS6. Cloud is great, but I don't want to pay by the month.

What is the deal with credits? Can we just crib from existing productions, or are there things we should be aware of (for example attributing a co-writer vs someone who wrote an earlier version) before copying the format?

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Re: P&P: General Editing

Writing Movies For Fun And Profit has a chapter all on credits. It's geared for features, but there's no reason why it can't be applied to a short.

I don't have my copy handy right now, but if I remember I'll see if I can summarise what it says for you.

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Re: P&P: General Editing

*rolls neck, cracking sounds*

*cracks knuckles*

Lengthy response to follow, kids.

Eddie Doty

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Re: P&P: General Editing

Re: P&P: General Editing

God loves you!

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Re: P&P: General Editing

I'm going to start this by saying of you want a technical breakdown of software, hotkeys, media management, or shortcuts, I have zero interest in talking about that, and realistically there are already a million different resources for that.  Your skill as an editor shouldn't in any way be dependent or attributed to knowledge of a piece of software.  Everything I'm going to talk about here is workflow and philosophy. Also, I'm going to be talking about the difference between scripted and non, because while the goals should be the same, the workflow tends to be a bit different. 


This applies to documentary, non-game reality show, BTS or promo material.  This is already assuming you've ingested media and know where all your assets are.

1). Create a project

1.5). Bin/folder architecture. Organization will save you dozens of hours later on, so take the time and set up a distinct series of bins so that every piece of media has a home.  Most times my projects have bins that look like this:

01 Cuts
          (If it's a tv show there will be sub bins here.  Act 1, act 2, etc.)
          (usually a bin for every days shoot.  Tapes generally have labeling that indicate day, cam number, and feel number.  So a standard bin would be 0929A03.  Meaning, September 29th, cam A, reel or tape 3.)
          (this includes titles, mortises, Vfx, chyrons, custom or global filters, stills et.  Prepare 1 sub bin for each)

2). Paper Cut.  You should have a general idea of what your story is before cutting.  Of course it will change, but take the time to write a treatment. If you want to get fancy and have transcripts, go ahead and write selects of dialogue or verite, but otherwise proceed to.....

3).  Interview cut downs.  For each person you interview, you should have a cut down of their interview to just relative or interesting bits.  Think 10:1 ratio of what you shot.  This will still be way too long, but it'll help you focus. 

4).  String Out.  A linear but fat string out of the story you're trying to tell. Interviews should be roughly where you want them, but you're not thinking visually yet, purely story.  Length should be 3-6 times ideal trt. (Total running time.)

5 Cut down.  Trim the fat.  This applies first to extraneous story threads and dialogue, but will soon extend to grammar.  For instance, a sentence that may start out as "So, it was so bizarre how Teague called me yesterday.  He mentioned something about Paul being on fire but he just sounded so...I don't know like just so  smug about it, you know what I mean?" will get trimmed and restructured to "Teague called me yesterday. / He mentioned / Paul on fire. / He sounded so smug about it. / It was bizarre." 

6) Radio cut.  Taking the cutdown, you will now introduce the pacing you want, the cutaways, the reactions, and the verbal grammar.  You may take that last sentence and do this to it: (wide shot) "Teague called me. (Reaction person 1, reaction person 2) (L cut) He mentioned Paul on fire. (interview bite person 2 under best reaction shot available)... you get the idea.  You're cutting the piece, with the exception of music and sound design.  Many employers like to see the radio cut first prior to scoring. Then...

Music pass

Audio mix pass

Internal cut 1


Internal cut 2


Client notes

Lock cut.

Color correction





The process for scripted material is the same from steps 4 onward. The only difference is the element of takes of the same performance.  In Avid, I'll stack multiple takes on top of each other in the timeline, with script notes first choice in V1, and other takes I like above them.  I'll then deactivate or monitor only certain tracks at a time.  This helps you find the right flow and allows quicker ways of viewing multiple takes of a line or cutaway in the context of the larger scene. 

I'm typing this entire post on my phone, so I'll have more to say when I can get to a keyboard.

Eddie Doty

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Re: P&P: General Editing


I am loving this thread

God loves you!

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Re: P&P: General Editing

Just bumping this for anyone that didn't see it or has anything to add. big_smile

/was here anyways

Re: P&P: General Editing

Thanks man. Just re-read mine and Eddie's posts, and... yeah. I dig this thread. (And "these" threads. Someone make one for something you know a lot about.)

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: P&P: General Editing

Good timing that you've bumped this thread. I'm actually working on a research project for university at the minute in which the end result will basically be a 'how-to' guide on becoming a professional editor. It's more of a career-based thing than technical, but if anybody is interested I'll post it here once it's done.

However, to do this thing I actually need to y'know...speak to some working editors! So if there's anybody here who would be willing to help out and answer a few questions, that would be awesome. Also, if you know anybody who'd be happy to help out, that would be equally as awesome.

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Re: P&P: General Editing

If Eddie's up for it, we could have him on an episode of EE to discuss this type of thing wink

Re: P&P: General Editing

Owen Ward wrote:

Good timing that you've bumped this thread. I'm actually working on a research project for university at the minute in which the end result will basically be a 'how-to' guide on becoming a professional editor. It's more of a career-based thing than technical, but if anybody is interested I'll post it here once it's done.

However, to do this thing I actually need to y'know...speak to some working editors! So if there's anybody here who would be willing to help out and answer a few questions, that would be awesome. Also, if you know anybody who'd be happy to help out, that would be equally as awesome.

I'll chat with you man.  email me at  I've made my living editing since 2002, and am a member of MPEG local 700.

As for an EE on it, sure, I'm down if others are.  Just a general "career paths" episode might be instructional all around.

Eddie Doty

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Re: P&P: General Editing

Awesome, thanks for the help. I'm still preparing questions and such right now, so I'll shoot you an e-mail in the middle of the week or so once that's all sorted.

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Re: P&P: General Editing

For the record, this is the best thread on the whole forum in my opinion in terms of amazingly useful knowledge.

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Re: P&P: General Editing

Miki asked me to come over yesterday to help her with an editing related thing.  I was unable because pregnant wife+doucmentary production=scant free time, but it did get me thinking about something I wanted to talk about in terms of "proper" editing, and if such a concept can even exist.  Strap in, I've got thoughts on Instinct vs acquired skill.

Instincts are interesting when it comes to filmmaking because in many ways, they're never enough to execute your vision.  If you're a DP, your "instinct," can tell you that a shot needs to be composed a certain way, that the lights should be x, that the framing should be y, that movement should be z.  But without extensive technical knowledge, it is impossible to execute those instincts.  Editing is unique in that in many ways, it requires the least amount of technical know how than many other film trades.  Bear in mind I'm not speaking of media management, file sharing, audio mixing, color correction, or any of the other myriad things an Editor must know in 2014, I'm referring only to the craft of cutting from one shot to a next.  On most Non-Linear Editing machines it's literally just one button.  Because of this, I, and many others argue that natural instinct plays a larger role in editing than some of the other trades.  I say this partially because of a scenario that I see born out in about 1-20 editors careers.  Most of us start as PA's and apprentices, then move to Assistant Editor, where our job is 80% technical.  Project setup, media management, track management, exports, etc.  Eventually you're allowed to cut scenes, and when opportunity arises and you've proven your potential, you're given a shot, and you move up.  But in the aforementioned 1 in 20, you see them perform very well on the technical side, but sink like a rock when creative choices are required.  When I interned at Bunim-Murray in the summer of 2000, Mark Raudonis let me cut scenes.  This was unheard of for Interns to do.  I would assemble something, and though rough and reflective of my experience level at the time, Mark's reaction was, "This is fine.  It's really simple, Eddie.  You get it, and people either get it or they don't." 

I've tried for a long time to reverse engineer my instincts into something quantifiable.  The reason I praise Walter Murch so much and reference him, is that he's one of the few to articulate those instincts and quantify how exactly a cut becomes "good."  There's no single answer for an individual cut from one shot to a next.  I have found that no single cut exists in a vacuum and wether or not a cut is good is entirely dependent to it's relationship with other cuts in the scene and even in other scenes or even other acts. 

The best visual analogy I can think of is Lego's, but a step further.  Imagine having a smaller piece that makes up the popular blocks you know now (the 4 top block, the six top rectangle, the thing with two knobs and then slopes down).  So In addition to trying to build a spaceship out of lego blocks, you ale have to BUILD THE BLOCKS out of a finite amount of Sub-Lego material.  You can build virtually any piece, but at the expense of building other pieces that you'll know you'll eventually need.  So yes, you can L-cut everything, and fill it with all the cutaways imaginable, but how will that fit into the next scene that doesn't necessarily need or warrant that.  If your conversation between your two leads in a bar feels more frenetic and jumpy than the scene where your lead is piloting the Mind-Saucer through the DoomGate, does that make sense?  In fact it very well make perfect sense to that movie (looking at YOU John Dies in the End) and not to another.  Every cut is based on relations and there's little way to quantify it.

When Tatiana Maslany is getting dressed in any given scene in Orphan Black, there is roughly a 1000% increase in the rate of cuts than in any fight scene in The Raid.  Both are correct.  When it comes to Drug use, we have CGI assisted one-ers in Enter the Void and what Arronofsky referred to as "hip hop montages" in Requiem for a Dream.  He also utilizes the most sensual split screen in the same movie that I've ever seen.  Both work in context.  It's often said that Editing is the last rewrite and I guess that's true, but only as a byproduct of the editorial process.  It's like saying reconstructive surgery is the last throes of puberty.  I think editing is more of a laboratory where transmutation and alchemy occur. 

So what does this mean to you, person trying to learn editing?  Are you doomed from jump street if you don't "get it," from day one?  I don't think so.  I think instincts like anything else can be cultivated.  Those 1-20 that I mentioned before, tended to approach storytelling as if there were a magical formula to be cracked.  If you approach editing like you would approach reading a story to children, you'll find more success.  The words themselves in a storybook have an inherit value that is compelling, but any story teller who doesn't perform it won't make that story come alive.

So my process is basically this, and I repeat it every 20-40 minutes worth of cutting.  I cut on instinct, which I've developed over 12 years of doing this for a living.  I cut without conscious though, simply reacting to what I see and I don't second guess it for about 20-40 minutes.  Then I stop and rematch whatever I've done, again, not consciously thinking just watching.  Then I ask myself, "What am I trying to say/accomplish with this scene, and does it fit with what I've just done?"  The answer is almost always, "Yes, but..."

So I adjust, re-edit, slip, open up, etc.  I play, essentially.  Then I re-watch.  Once I'm satisfied (and I reserve the right to be unsatisfied later and abort the whole fucking thing) I move on to the next scene.  About once every hour, I rematch everything I've done until that point.  My timeframe of 20 to 40 minutes is just the metric I use for myself, yours can and should vary.  I physically cut very fast.  That is to say my hands move fast on the keyboard.  That is not a brag, as it's both blessing and curse.   But for my physical speed, that time frame works for me.

Most editors who know what they're doing will have similar practices.  Even in other Post Production crafts like VFX or color correction, you'll see a similar philosophy.  What I'm particularly lying attention to is emotional tone, narrative, energy, pacing, shot integrity, and continuity in that order.  This is similar to Murch's rule of six, but with some of my own preferences mixed in.  Emotional tone (or emotion AND tone, if you will) is always first, and yes, even over story (though not by much, and in some cases story has to overrule).  Notice that continuity is last.  There are sometimes where continuity is so blatantly wrong you have to address it, but I've amassed enough tricks over the years to get around most visual continuity issues to where I make the cut I want and then shoehorn continuity where I need it go after the fact.  Thelma Schoonmaker (my favorite regularly working editor since Sally died) stopped giving a fuck about continuity 30 years ago, and that's good enough for me.  Energy and pacing are in fact separate things.  Energy the right dynamism of the frame for the duration of the shot, pursuant to the story you are telling.  Where the shot begins and ends in relation to the next is pacing, but energy can be cutting to a moving frame and where you come in.  It seems like splitting hairs, but in fact theres a world of difference. 

In conclusion, while there's no instruction manual on how to cut right, by watching movies and tv and just putting in the hours you can hone and cultivate your instinct to make good decisions more often than not.  In that way it's similar than all the other film crafts, but different as well.  A good DP is an artist with a blank canvas.  Same with a writer.  An editor is more like Tesla, taking things that exist and making things previously thought unimaginable.  SO in that way, Editors are the coolest of them all.

Last edited by Eddie (2014-03-31 18:53:37)

Eddie Doty

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Re: P&P: General Editing

Eddie wrote:

... Editors are the coolest of them all.

Agreed. All the rest is wasting time on performance art unless an editor wraps it up.

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Re: P&P: General Editing

I wasn't sure if this would really warrant a separate thread, so I've just decided to post this in here. I'd like to share a piece that I have written which is basically a 'how-to guide' on becoming a professional editor. Now obviously, I'm no working editor myself - so it is basically a culmination of my findings from interviewing a bunch of different guys (one of them being our very own Eddie Doty) with some quotes in for good measure.

(spoiler'd for size)



If you’re reading this then I’m guessing you have some sort of interest in becoming an editor. Whether it be for film or TV, soap operas or documentaries - then this is the guide for you. Throughout these pages, I will show you just how to make a career out of working as an editor - how to get your feet on the ladder and start climbing up.

I’m Owen Ward, a Film Production student nearing the end of my degree. Hang on a minute, don’t put this down just yet! I know, I’m just a student - why listen to me? Surely the words of advice from some actual working editors would be much more beneficial, right? Well, I’ve got in touch with a number of different editors to put this together. What you’re about to read is essentially an amalgamation of everything I have learned from speaking to these guys all wrapped up into a nice little package.

So, who is it that I have spoken to?

Adam Bertocci: Adam has been working as a professional editor since 2007, mainly working on documentaries and reality TV. He also writes and directs his owns films and is also the author of ‘Two Gentlemen of Lebowski’ - a Shakespearean take on ‘The Big Lebowski’.

Bob Woodward: Bob has been an editor for 32 years and was working as an assistant for 7 years prior. Although he has cut some drama, he mainly works on documentaries as they are his first love.

Charlie Phillips: Charlie has been editing broadcast TV and films in the UK for over 25 years, mostly editing comedy and drama for British TV. He was the editor of five episodes of the BBC’s award winning series, ‘Sherlock’.

Chris Gill: Chris has worked on some notable TV projects, but made a name for himself on his first film with Danny Boyle, ‘28 Days Later’. Most recently he won awards and nominations for ‘The Guard’ and ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’.

Daniel Frome:After a couple of years working as a systems engineer on game shows, Daniel transitioned to editing after being hired as an assistant editor for a reality TV show. He was told that he was hired not because of his technical experience, but due to the fact that he “knew the politics of television well enough.”

Eddie Doty: Eddie interned at Bunim-Murray Productions in 2000, working on ‘The Real World’ for MTV and ABC’s ‘Making the Band’.  After working in independent documentaries as a 2nd Unit DIrector and Editor, he began working in TV in 2002 - mainly on reality TV shows such as, ‘Flavor of Love’ and ‘Tori & Dean: Inn Love’.

Kristofor Gieske: Kristofor has been working in a professional capacity since he got a job at his local public access station when he was 17. He currently works for Pioneer Public Television, a small-town PBS affiliate.

Mick Audsley: Mick started working in the 70’s and hasn’t stopped since. His films include such works as, ‘Twelve Monkeys’, ‘High Fidelity’ and ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’. He was nominated for a BAFTA in 1990 and later won in 1994 for his work on ‘The Snapper’.

Nigel G. Honey: Nigel has been an editor for 17 years and was an assistant for 5 years beforehand. His passion is drama and features, but also enjoys the challenge of a good documentary.

Tim Squyres: Tim started editing around 1986 and cut his first feature in 1989. He has since worked with Ang Lee on a number of his films - including, ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’, ‘Hulk’ and ‘Life of Pi’.

Now hopefully I’ve managed to convince you to keep on reading, I’ll tell you a little bit about what’s to come. First of all, this isn’t a guide on learning how to edit - there are plenty of other resources for that - this is all about making a career out of it. This guide will cover starting at the bottom with no experience whatsoever, all the way to working as a pro editor.

STAGE 1: Getting Started

What Does An Editor Do?

The role of an editor is one of the most crucial, yet often underappreciated roles in the filmmaking process. The edit can often make or break a film, the original ‘Star Wars’ being a famous example. Initially the film was very dull and unfocused, it wasn’t until a major re-edit later on that it became the film that it is known today. If the production of a film can be viewed as a second pass at the script, then the edit can definitely be seen as a third.

So you think becoming an editor is something that you’d like to do? Well, you have to be sure it is something you genuinely are passionate about. You will be working long hours, spending most of your time on your own in a dark room. It’s an essential part of the filmmaking process, but it’s not for everyone - you really have to love it. Despite all of this, it is very rewarding. The personal satisfaction felt once picture lock is attained, knowing that all of your hard work was worth it - is utterly sensational.

“Creatively, an editor needs to be both a good problem-solver and the sort of person who sees the potential in material that may not be immediately obvious. Know how to make and follow a plan, by all means, but be prepared to think on your feet if something goes wrong with the plan or if something better presents itself. An editor deals with the footage that was shot, not the footage that was wished for.” - Adam Bertocci

Don’t I Need Software?

Now that we are living in the digital-era of filmmaking, the vast majority of projects are also cut digitally using NLE (non-linear editor) software. There are a multitude of different editing packages of all different shapes and sizes, but they all essentially serve the same purpose.

In the professional world, the most-used programs out there are; Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro. To get the best chance at getting work, you should learn how to use as many of these packages as you can.

“There are still instances where editors will lose out on jobs because they didn’t know the software.  It happened to the editor who was supposed to have the job I do now.  He only knew FCP and not Avid, and therefore I got the job” - Eddie Doty

The ‘big three’ packages can be quite expensive and although they all offer limited, free trial downloads - it may be more beneficial to get your hands on something more affordable when you’re just starting out. You may already have something installed on your own computer! Both iMovie (Mac) and Windows Movie Maker (PC) are freely available and should be enough to get you started with the basics. is a valuable source of in-depth video tutorials for all of these pieces of software and whilst they may cost money, they are extremely high quality learning materials and well worth the cost. There are also plenty of free resources online such as CreativeCOW and Youtube is full of tutorials for almost anything you would need.

How Do I Learn to Be An Editor?

As with any craft, the best way to learn how to be an editor is to go out and do it! But some sort of foundation in what to do (or what not to do) certainly wouldn’t hurt. There are plenty of ways out there to learn both the technical and theoretical aspects of editing and I will briefly go over a few.

The library is always a great place to visit when you want to learn something new, and for editing it is no different. ‘In the Blink of an Eye’ is a book by the famed editor, Walter Murch. He demystifies the craft and examines exactly how this art form works. It is perhaps the most well-known book on the subject out there and is a must-read for anybody with an interest in the art of film editing.

Other books to look out for are:

‘When the Shooting Stops … The Cutting Begins’ (Ralph Rosenblum and Robert Karen)
‘Avid Agility’ (Stephen Cohen)
‘Dream Repairman: Adventures in FIlm Editing’ (Jim Clarke)

‘The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Making’ is a documentary which gives a thorough examination on the editing process, providing many examples of different styles and the effects they achieve. Not only does it provide a very enlightening insight, but it is also extremely accessible film and is worth a watch for anybody who has even a passing interest in cinema.

In addition to these, perhaps the best way to learn about editing is to simply watch a lot of different films - be analytical and study how they are edited! Pay attention to how many cuts there are in a scene, try to think why certain shots were used and what the intention was behind each cut. Remember, your role is that of a storyteller - not a button pusher.

“Watching films and other visual media has an impact; it can inspire me to work at creating a new effect or give me a new way to approach a given project. I also enjoy learning from the advice of experienced filmmakers, whether they are editors or otherwise.” - Kristofor Gieske

Get Cutting!

Unfortunately you can’t just start working right away, you’re gonna have to get some experience. Try and get involved in as many different projects as possible, working on things of varying length and quality. You not only need to get practice cutting footage, but you need to get used to working with others, getting notes and moulding the piece to not only how you see fit - but how the client wants it too.

Try to find some local filmmakers in your area, get talking and see if anybody could use an editor on their project. Do as much as you can to get your name out there. Even if you don’t have much success right off the bat, something is bound to come your way eventually.

It would also be a good idea to check if any nearby colleges and universities have film programmes. Student films are a great way to get stuck in to refining your craft and the extra help is almost always appreciated.

Also, there’s nothing stopping you from going out there and cutting your own material together. You may not consider yourself much of a director, but that’s perfectly fine. Your experiences on other roles will only help you grow as an editor and you will gain a finer appreciation for many other aspects of filmmaking.

So get out there and get some experience. Work on a few student films, make some of your own - the more variety, the better! Get yourself a diverse range of credits and keep in touch with whoever you work with. Networking is extremely vital in this industry, so the better impression you give - the bigger chance you have of being asked to work on their next project.

“GET ON THE KIT! Learn from doing! Go do a course but don't expect to be an editor after a 3 day editing course. I’ve been editing 17 years and still learning!” - Nigel G. Honey

STAGE 2: Climbing the Ladder

Typical Career Progression

Before we go any further, it is probably best to outline a typical career progression from the bottom all the way to the top. Now, this isn’t the same for everyone - if there was a clear-cut way of doing things then everybody would be doing it and this guide would be irrelevant. Nevertheless, this should help give you an idea of where you should be aiming for.

With almost any role in film and television, most people start as a runner/production assistant - the bottom rung. As the name ‘runner’ implies, you will essentially be running around doing various tasks that are asked of you. This includes stuff like; grabbing coffees, taking out the bins and distributing paperwork. It’s not the most exciting or creative role, but it’s a foot in the door and gives you a chance to show how dedicated you are.

Obviously if you want to get into editing, you will want to be a post-production runner, but that doesn’t mean you should turn down any on-set opportunities should they arise - take anything you can get! I was once a runner on a sitcom pilot and when chatting to the producer, I mentioned that I would like to get in to post-production. She then arranged for me to spend the rest of my time in the post dept. where I learned and insane amount in just a short time.

The next step would be to become an Edit Assistant. Depending on the size of the production there could be many or just the one. An editor works best when they can come in to work in the morning and start cutting right away, an assistant is vital in allowing this to happen. As an assistant, it is your job to make everything easy for the editor - that means ingesting and organising all the footage in a way that conforms to their workflow and if required, you will have to sync sound with picture.

“AE (assistant editing) is the breeding ground for editors.  You avoid staying that by respectfully being a pain in the ass.  You volunteer to do things outside of work hours (if you offer to do a 30 second spot for free when you’re still an AE, that’s strategic and at times makes sense).  You make your intention clear and make your reputation being as someone who is committed and hungry.  You HAVE to hustle.” - Eddie Doty

After gaining yourself a lot of experience as an assistant, you should then be able to finish climbing that ladder and land yourself an editing position. However, this road isn’t quick or easy - it is not uncommon to spend many years working towards your goal.

Will I Have to Move?

Moving location is a hard decision to make for anybody, so I can imagine this would be a big concern for many people. However, the sad reality of film & television is that everything seems to be centralised - so depending on how far you’d like to take your career, it is likely you’re gonna have to move to somewhere like London or Los Angeles (providing you don’t live there already of course).

“Video production companies exist everywhere, as do TV stations with news departments. Someone needs to edit weddings and local commercials and the like, and you can live more cheaply there too, I’m certain. But if scripted film or TV or that sort of thing is really your passion, I’d advise going where the glamour is.” - Adam Bertocci

Getting Your Name Out There

By this point you will (hopefully) have cut a fair few things together, but how do you move on to bigger and better things? Well, I wish I had a concrete answer to that! It’s mostly a combination of luck and who you know.

So assuming you are a lucky person, how do you move on to your first paid job? The most obvious answer would be to check job listings for a Post-Production Runner! There are many websites which are solely for film & TV job listings, two of them being and But sadly it is rare to find many entry level positions advertised.

The next best thing would be to contact post-production facilities yourself. Scour Google for the contact details of a number of post-houses and get in touch with each and every one. Even better would be to visit in person, not only will you meet your potential employers face-to-face but it will also make you stand out from the numerous faceless applicants who just e-mailed in their CV.

“Write to people, hundreds of them tell them what you’ve done and what you want to do. Demonstrate passion, style and ambition... and don’t use email, write letters.” - Bob Woodward

“Initially volunteer and then more work will come your way by word of mouth. The hours will be terribly long but ultimately worth it.” - Chris Gill

Do I Need A Showreel?

Almost every job in the industry requires you to have a showreel (a collection of clips showcasing your best work), but for editors it seems to be different. When asked about showreels, most of the editors I spoke to said they either have never had one or don’t find them useful at all. So by all means, cut yourself a cracking reel - but don’t expect it to get you far.

“Never had a showreel. What are you going to display? Great camerawork? Great direction? The fact you can cut action sequences? Big deal!” - Bob Woodward

Working For Free

When trying to work your way up the ladder, exploitation can be rife and you will often be asked to work for little or no pay. Whilst working for nothing can be a great way to get some experience, it not only undermines yourself - but the editing world as a whole. The amount of work editors put in is often very underappreciated as it is and asking them to work for pittance can be seen as very insulting.

This is of course only referring to budgeted productions where they really can afford to be paying you. If it’s a friends project or something you’re quite passionate about, then go for it! When offered a low/no pay gig, think about it carefully - is it actually worth it?

“Working for free is only exploitation if they have the money and choose not to pay you. … Working for free on a friend’s short or some guy’s spec commercial is fine, and can be a great way to get experience, especially because they can’t expect too much expertise from you if they’re not paying you. If it’s some sort of commercial venture - if the filmmakers are getting paid for or stand to make money from the project - then they really should be paying you.  Use your judgement, and don’t make a habit of it.” - Tim Sqyures

Freelance vs. Steady Work

Unlike a regular job where you work for a single company, the vast majority of editors are freelance. This means working on a project-by-project basis for a whole manner of different places. Freelancing can have a number of benefits, but it does have its downsides too.

Say goodbye to stability! When working freelance, your schedule and income will be incredibly inconsistent. You will often find yourself looking for the next job when you have just taken on your current one. Also, if you’re not much of a numbers person you soon will be (or you could just hire an accountant) as you will be responsible for sorting out your own taxes.

On the plus side of working freelance, there will always be constant variety from project-to-project, each with their own unique challenges - getting bored won’t be easy. You will also have the freedom to work for who you choose and turn down work from people you don’t necessarily want to work for.

“Working freelance means more freedom to switch jobs, take a pay cut for a better position, and often allow for faster advancement. It also means periods of unemployment, and it’s almost impossible to ever schedule a vacation more than a few weeks in advance.” - Tim Sqyures

STAGE 3: You’re an Editor!

Congratulations, you’ve made it! You have ascended the ranks of Assistant Editor and you are now a fully fledged Editor yourself! So let me tell you what is in store for you.

Typical Day in the Edit Suite

One of the great things about editing is that there is no typical day. Each and every scene you cut will present you will different challenges and will require you to approach them in different ways. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to editing - and that is what keeps it exciting. One day you might be working on a fast paced action scene and the next a slower, more character-driven piece with the emphasis on emotion.

“There’s no real by-the-hour schedule to it; you sit in your chair and you work. If someone is coming in at a certain time to see something, okay, but otherwise, the only difference between 10 AM and 2 PM is how far along you are.” - Adam Bertocci

Working With Others

Whilst editing may seem like a bit of a solitary role, communication is actually really vital to the process. The director and editor should work very closely together, both giving their input on how the story should be portrayed on screen. You must try your best though to ensure you both have a good working relationship - directors don’t like to be told how they could have done things better and editors certainly don’t like others ‘backseat editing’. Ultimately, you are both there to serve the story and not your own egos

“The editor and director should be each other’s closest allies, or at least act that way. If they agree about everything then they’re not likely to push each other to try things or make things better, so some disagreement is good and productive. … It’s important to remember with all these relationships that you’re not talking about job titles, you’re talking about people. It’s best if you all get along and respect each other’s work.” - Tim Sqyures

How Does it Affect Your Personal Life?

With this job being rife with long hours and inconsistent work schedules, it can most certainly affect your personal life and it is ultimately up to you how much you let it do so. When you’re young and don’t have many responsibilities, the long hours and enormous pressure to meet deadlines may not seem like much. But if you’re trying to raise a family then this becomes a whole different story.

It is up to you to figure out how best to balance your work and personal lives. Consider trying to stick to a regular 9 - 5 schedule and much as possible and make weekends a no-go zone from the outset. It may seem tough at times and you can find yourself seemingly spending more time in the edit suite than with your own kids, but it is possible to make work - it’s down to you how to make that possible.

“The hours are long. Other people rely on you being there in order to proceed. Without you there all they can do is sit around. This puts pressure on you to work long hours. One answer is to take long breaks between jobs (if you can afford it) and put a ban on working weekends from the outset.” - Charlie Phillips

Dabbling in Other Roles

These days, editors are increasingly expected to dip in to other roles that would traditionally be covered by someone else. Depending on the scale of the project, an editor will often be asked to do some After Effects work too or perhaps even some colour grading. It is certainly beneficial to learn as many different things as you can and it means you can maybe take on some other jobs in between editing gigs, but there is a fine line between doing your job and being exploited. If they’re asking for more than they are paying you for - that is exploitation.

“I think it should be an expectation that editors have some camera experience and camera operators should have some editing experience. Its the best way to understand what each side of the production process has to deal with.” - Kristofor Gieske

STAGE 4: Wait, you mean I gotta find another job?

You didn’t think it was that easy did you? Once your work on one project is done, then that’s it - you’re out of work! Time to find some more gigs!

How Do You Find More Work?

Ideally you should be looking for your next job whilst you are still working on your current one, unless you intentionally want to spend some time out of work of course. As I said earlier on, a lot of this business is about who you know - and fortunately at this stage of your career, you should have a decent list of contacts by now. With any luck, they will be getting in touch with you asking if you’d like to work with them. But if not, don’t hesitate to get in touch with them and ask if they know of anyone who needs an editor. Don’t be shy about it, this is the best chance you’re gonna get when it comes to finding work.

Failing that, all the usual channels still apply. Check out job listings, get in touch with production companies and enquire. Heck, there’s even no shame in doing some more Assistant Editor work! Just because you have been the editor on one project doesn’t mean you won’t be AE-ing again.

“Never mind the job, I usually end up meeting a valuable person whom I will collaborate with in the future in some matter.  In the big picture, it’s the combination of all these activities that lead to job offers and opportunities.” - Daniel Frome

“About a month before you finish your current job you need to let everyone you know when you will become available again. If you know enough people something will usually turn up.” - Charlie Phillips

How to STAY in Work.

Obviously you want to stay working as an editor. But you can’t expect to do one or two shows and expect the job offers to come rolling in, you need to be proactive in your approach to ensure you carry on working all the time.

The best way to ensure you continue working is simple - be somebody people like to work with. We humans are social creatures and we enjoy being in the company of others who we get along with. Do your best to be a pleasure to be around and keep in mind the impression to make to others at all times. It’s a small industry and word travels round fast, if people have a bad experience with you - others will soon know about it.

“You’re only as good as your last job, Don’t piss too many people off!!” - Nigel G. Honey


In the world of showbusiness, it seems like everybody needs an agent. Whilst you can certainly get yourself an agent, it is not necessary. It’s not like being a screenwriter, where production companies won’t even look at your script unless you have representation. Most editors don’t have agents and those who do tend to be the big name guys working on major Hollywood blockbusters.

But what about being part of a union? Again, this isn’t really necessary - especially in the UK. There are some jobs which will require you to be part of the union, but these are few and far between. For the most part, you are on your own.

“The union in the UK has all but disappeared. An agent is useful if you don’t like negotiating your own rate or if you like someone else looking after your diary.” - Charlie Phillips


That’s it, we have reached the end! Together we have climbed the ladder and discovered just what goes into becoming a professional editor. I sincerely hope this has been of use to you and if you have any success stories, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me (you can reach me at

If anything, I hope this guide has shown you that is it possible to get in touch with these people yourself. The editing community is a friendly and welcoming bunch and I was delighted at the response I got from total strangers. If I can do it, you can too!

“While there's no instruction manual on how to cut right, by watching movies and tv and just putting in the hours you can hone and cultivate your instinct to make good decisions more often than not.  In that way it's similar than all the other film crafts, but different as well.  A good DP is an artist with a blank canvas.  Same with a writer.  An editor is more like Tesla, taking things that exist and making things previously thought unimaginable.  SO in that way, Editors are the coolest of them all.” - Eddie Doty

Last edited by Owen_Ward (2014-09-08 21:33:11)

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Re: P&P: General Editing

Sorry to skip Owen's, more or less, but seeing this pop up again reminded me that I kinda wanted to share the process behind the wedding edits I do. Wedding editing is incredibly formulaic, which makes it easy but can be very boring (the parts where you're not bored are the exciting parts of the wedding and ones you should definitely use, duh).

Step 0: Shoot the wedding

Or have someone else do it. Whatever.

Step 1: Transfer footage to hard drives and back up.

Familiar stuff. Label each folder with the name of the card it came from and maybe the device used to record it. "SD-32-03 (6D1)", "SD-16-D (HMC)", "SD-8-A (H4N)", that sort of thing.

Step 2: Organize your project.

I created a template project so this is already done for our employees and interns, but essentially my fresh project looks like this:

Source Footage
-First Cut

Step 3: Import and organize your footage.

Highlight all of your card image folders and drag them to "Unsorted". Skim through it and figure out what part of the day it goes into. (I've listed all the possible ones I can think of off the top of my head; order will change depending on the event and sometimes there will be additional ones, especially with nonstandard weddings.) Do the same with your audio. If a single clip runs across two different events, use a virtual copy and in/out points to distinguish it so you don't have to hunt for it later. Drop the clips into new folders that you create under "Source Footage"; as you're doing this, you can either delete card folders outright when you've emptied them or move them out of the way somewhere.

Possible Events Show
01 Girls Getting Ready
02 Guiys Getting Ready
03 First Look
04 Ceremony
05 Photos
06 Cocktail Hour
07 Grand Entrance
08 First Dance
09 Toasts
10 Dinner Hour
11 Parent Dances (sometimes Family Dances if the groom dances with Grandma, or the bride dances with her son, etc.)
12 Cake Cutting
13 Bouquet/Garter Toss
14 Reception Dancing

A Jewish wedding will have the Horah, maybe a Ketubah signing if you want it in a separate sequence. Weddings outside the typical white wedding will have even more different things, but you get the idea.

Step 4: Edit the first cut.

The longest and most boring part. For events that aren't filmed synchronously, you can just lay out your footage on a single timeline - or, as I've learned it's called, stringout - for each section, and set about yanking bad shots. (Thus, in your Timelines >> First Cut folder, you'll have "01 Girls Getting Ready", "02 Guys Getting Ready", etc.) The company I work for gives the client the full first cut ("Archive Cut"), so if a shot seems like they may want it even a little, it stays in. We try to keep our first cut sequences of this sort no longer than fifteen minutes; the couple will watch and enjoy them a couple times, particularly if there's some really great moments going on, but it's not the main product.

Some sequences - such as the ceremony and the formalities at the reception - are shot with multiple cameras. Sync those bad boys up, with software like PluralEyes or just manually with markers (the letter "S" is your friend, as are videographers who will leave the camera running even as they reposition so you have fewer clips to sync). Drop those all in your timeline, then Nest them. In Premiere, make sure you immediately rename the automatically generated "Nested Sequence 1" and put it in your First Cut folder (maybe as "s04 Ceremony") because otherwise it could get lost in the shuffle. (We had an intern somehow lose this and end up editing the same ceremony twice.) Enable multicam and have fun.

Audio will depend on your setup. We have two wireless XLR microphones feeding into a Panasonic video camera for ceremony audio, and a Zoom H4N that is plugged into a DJ or band's sound system for the reception. Other recorders and setups arise day-of as well, which is why videographers who give you detailed shoot notes with such things are also going to be your friend. Use the clearest audio track(s) you have and mute the others. (Don't delete them; if static or someone stepping on a cable and unplugging it disrupts your feed, it's good to have a fallback, even if it's sub-par.)

Step 5: Plan the Highlight.

Will the highlight video be driven by just the music? Or will it be driven by audio from the vows and toasts on top of the music? What kind of music are you even going to use? This is often informed by the couple themselves; if they don't give you music (or if you don't ask from it) you can still tell from their footage if they'd be better serviced by Colbie Caillat, The Four Tops, or OneRepublic. (These artists are all on, the licensing service we use.)

Plan the structure of your video, marking places in the song for different events ("Man that crescendo is perfect for their first kiss") and, if driven by on-location audio, choosing your sound bytes and laying them out along the music. Know how long each section will run; our videos tend to give equal weight to the ceremony and the events leading up to it as the reception, but I've seen some companies that spend nearly the entire video at the ceremony and only have a bit of the reception at the end. Neither way is wrong; figure out what's right for you and the client.

Step 6: Edit the Highlight.

If you're driving the video with spoken word on top of music, finalize that structure first, then bring in your b-roll. Either at this point or during Step 4 you should figure out which shots are the best ones to use in the highlight reel, whether because they're technically amazing shots or because of what's going on in them. If your highlight is based on music alone, it'll be composed entirely of these shots; just as you need good audio to have the spoken word carry it, you need strong visuals to carry a music-only highlight.

This is where you can get creative. I play with transitions and various effects (enhancing lens flares during a dance, sometimes, or to make a featureless grey sky look nice) but obviously don't overdo it. Make something cool. Show it to coworkers, or whoever shares your home office with you.

Polish that sucker up because that's what the couple will probably see first and, if you do a good job, will share with everybody - getting you exposure and, hopefully, referrals.

Though it's not what I want to do the rest of my life, I do enjoy shooting and editing weddings. I did so for a wedding DJ that got married earlier this year, really a great guy. He came by today and picked up his package (Blu-Rays, DVDs) and had nothing but nice things to say about the highlight they'd seen already. You are a part of one of the biggest and best days of their lives, and most couples radiate a joy that is infectious. If you don't feel it, you either aren't finding the right clients or, quite possibly, shouldn't be doing it. Still, if you have the opportuniity (and/or need the cash), I recommend doing so at least once.

Though we've never gotten any repeat business. What's up with that?

Boter, formerly of TF.N as Boter and DarthArjuna. I like making movies and playing games, in one order or another.