Learning the Art of Video Editing

By in fundamentals, podcast on March 24, 2010
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video editing has two parts: mechanical and cerebreral. learning the mechanical part is easy. like any other program these are the keyboard commands and gestures that you are required to know to use it. in the case of video it’s a requirement to know these commands so that can works as fast as possible. almost all of these key commands are left overs from ancient video tape editors like AVID or Grass Valley. once an editor learned a system like these they insisted that every thing that came afterward use those commands exactly like they worked on the older systems.

you can learn the mechanical by taking a class or reading books and manuals. but we’ve found the best way to learn is to just use the NLE. don’t be daunted by the insane interface and the thousands of keyboard commands. eventually it will look like it makes sense. and don’t try to learn all the command keys all at once. instead learn them over time so you will pick up things that work for you. here’s four keys you need to know to start things off: ABMN. A is the pointer, B is the Razor, M adds a marker, N is turns Snapping on and off.

one thing to note is that the editor you ultimately decide to use really doesn’t matter. why? because the act of editing isn’t defined by the tool. it doesn’t matter if it’s an AVID running on Windows or a Final Cut Pro on an Octo Mac. the tool is not the editor because editing is defined by you. I’ve found that my style has been consistent across 6 different editors that I’ve used in my career as an editor.

a better way to think about editing is that it’s really just messing with Time and Space. and that’s why it can be so hard to learn. here’s a foundation of story telling: every story has a beginning, middle and end. but with your NLE the middle could be the beginning and the end might come abruptly.

video is has lots of parts that make up the total story. you can think of it as just sound and video. but sound is more than just sound. it’s emotion made from voice, music, foley and effects. a visual story just pasted on top of sound won’t work because our eyes are tricked by our ears to want to see things around a beats of the sound.

learning the art of this will take time. there is so much to learn.

here’s four books that we like:

The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film

In the Blink of an Eye Revised 2nd Edition

Apple Pro Training Series: The Craft of Editing with Final Cut Pro

Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player

here’s four movies that we like because you can learn from the Director commentary:

The Core (Widescreen Edition)

Robert Rodriguez Mexico Trilogy (El Mariachi / Desperado / Once Upon A Time In Mexico)

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (Widescreen Edition)

Saving Private Ryan (Special Limited Edition)