Whether you’re taking care of everything in house or you’ve decided to outsource video production, the edit suite is where the real work begins. Authors like to say that ‘writing is rewriting’, and editing is much the same: it’s a process of paring down, rejigging, and rearranging a piece of work until it’s whittled down to its ideal form – or, well, close enough. It’s about conveying the narrative illustrated in the storyboards, but recognising that the storyboards can only do so much; that the footage and audio you’ve captured will dictate the ultimate shape of your video.
Above all, editing is a matter of aligning moving parts in service of a broader message. If these parts aren’t manipulated properly, your video – and your message – will suffer.
Found in the edit?
Making sure all goes well in the edit suite requires some effort and initiative – particularly if you haven’t chosen to outsource video production to a video company and are handling the process in-house. If you don’t supply this effort and initiative, your video won’t succeed.
This video for an American distribution centre is one example of a film being unmade by a shoddy edit. The footage is solid enough, but it’s put together miserably. Graphics are overused and placed in inopportune, unnecessary places; every SINGLE cut is marked by a cross dissolve transition, and as for the music – it is better not to speak of it. Above all it’s all show and tell: no thought was put into making it engaging or visually coherent beyond: “Here are some clips, and some voiceover to narrate the clips. May we go home, please?”
Workable footage is essential, and if you’re going to outsource video production, you’ll want to make sure your crew can capture it. But workable footage is never enough. Great videos are found in the edit, and making your production valuable to your business is a matter of care and attention in the suite.
Solicit feedback from people who haven’t worked on all stages of the project. When you’re close to a production, it can be very hard to separate yourself from it. Cuts that you think are brilliant might be a poor fit for this specific video. Things that you miss might be caught by a more impassive observer. And even if there aren’t any glaring flaws in urgent need of correction, simply having a fresh pair of eyes on your video can confirm whether or not it flows correctly – and provide valuable instruction when it comes to deciding your next move. The director may have final cut, but sharing ideas and bouncing your own off the editor and other members of the crew is never a bad idea.
Timing is – as the cliché suggests – everything. Editing is in many respects the art of making sure everything is in the right place at the right time. If a shot lingers for too long or cuts away too quickly it can ruin the effectiveness of your overall message. Visuals and sound design must be given equal consideration: an excellent production will involve ensuring their relationship to each other is perfectly balanced and perfectly timed. While you want to make sure things like colouring are tonally appropriate, audio must never be neglected.
It’s also worth organising your edit ahead of time. Create separate bins for footage and graphics, and arrange separate sequences for each relevant portion of the video. When you don’t have to hastily ensure that everything’s where it needs to be you’ve more time to focus on the details of editing.
Finally, save your work. Always save and backup your work in multiple locations. Computers have made editing faster and more efficient, but they can also crash without warning. Software such as Adobe Premiere saves automatically, but regular manual saves at critical points can do wonders for your peace of mind.
The suite spot
There are a great many ways that editing can go wrong: continuity errors, technical issues, and much, much more. Working around them is part of the process. If you’re not confident that you can handle these obstacles, you may look to outsource video production.
If your project isn’t edited properly, it can diminish your message, waste your creativity, and turn a promising video into an expensive regret.
Fortunately – and while we’d always caution against ‘fixing it in post’ – great editing can do much to bring your project to life, even if pre-production and production haven’t gone exactly to plan. The most important thing is to never assume you’re done editing too soon. Since 1982, there have been seven different cuts of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, and they’re all meaningfully different films. You probably don’t want that level of perfectionism, but you do want to make sure you give your video all the editing time it deserves. Your message and your creative vision deserve no less.