For example, do you know the five primary ways you can begin a cut depending on what type of scene it is? Were you aware that you need to organize the footage in your project very differently when cutting a trailer or a promo versus cutting a feature?
What do you do when you’ve got more footage than you know what to do with or not enough? How about when your music doesn’t fit, and you’ve got no budget for a composer. Or what if the cut doesn’t feel big enough, scary enough, funny enough, sad enough, or cool enough? Hello, and welcome.
My name is Chris, and I’m the lead trainer here at Film Editing Pro. I’m going to be your guide throughout the next few videos. Editing challenges like the ones I just described are exactly the kind of useful hands-on topics we’re going to cover in this three-part training series.
Our focus here is specifically on creative editing, the real craft of telling a story and creating emotion using picture and sound. It doesn’t matter what software package you use or what plug-ins you have.
These techniques and concepts can be applied to any editing program out there. Now, if you’re watching this, you probably fall into one of four categories. You might be a full or part-time editor, a student, an independent filmmaker, or maybe an online content creator.
Whatever your situation might be, we’ve got some fascinating stuff to share with you. So let me tell you a little bit about your instructors here at Film Editing Pro. Our editors work with major studios and networks like NBC, FX, Fox, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Disney, Sony, Universal Pictures, and many others.
These are professional editors working in the film industry today. We’re very excited to give you this unique opportunity to learn directly from their combined editing experience. You’re about to discover industry secrets and a level of training that you don’t get in school.
Our goal is to drastically reduce the amount of time it takes for you to gain a high level of mastery over-editing. That means taking your skills from the beginner, intermediate, or even advanced levels and elevating them to a professional status.
The ability to edit with a genuinely professional polish can mean the difference between getting a job working on a low-budget amateur project versus a chance to edit the next Hollywood blockbuster, or hit television series.
Or it can mean the difference between editing a short film that fails to get any attention and festival love versus one that gets noticed and kicks starts your career. There’s a great quote from renowned film editor Walter Murch, and it goes like this.
About Film editing
“Film editing is now something almost everyone can do at a simple level and enjoy it. But to take it to a higher level requires the same dedication and persistence that any art form does.” All right, so in this first video, we’re going to start by talking about some of the core skills and attributes you’ll need as an editor.
Then we’re going to look at a variety of particular techniques that you can start using right away to improve your editing. Let’s begin with the core skills. First, you’ll need to have some software knowledge.
This is pretty obvious, but I still thought I should mention it. Before you can start editing creatively, you need to be comfortable enough with your software so that it isn’t a distraction to the creative process.
Whether it’s Avid, Final cut, Premiere, or any other program, it doesn’t matter. Just make sure that you know it well enough to move around the software with confidence. Like I said earlier, software skills aren’t something that we teach here.
There’s plenty of other resources out there to help you with that. We’ll be spending our lesson time, 100% on creative techniques. All right, enough about that, moving on. So next, I strongly, recommend that you start using your keyboard shortcuts, or hotkeys, if you aren’t already.
A faster editor is usually a better editor. Clicking around the interface too much slows you down. With the keyboard, you can try things more quickly and explore new ideas. Here’s an example of a few edits performed only using a mouse.
And now, here’s an example of the same edits performed using primarily hotkeys. Using the keyboard is about 10 seconds faster. You’ll work more quickly with a director or a producer in the room. And the process of editing will seem a lot easier and more fluid.
Now, there’s a particular way to set up your keyboard shortcuts. I rarely use the default hotkeys that come with the program. Usually, they require moving your hand around the keyboard too much and having to look down to see what you’re pressing.
Instead, take a tip from professional gamers. If you want to be quick on the keyboard, set up your hotkeys so that you never have to move your hand to reach everything that you need. For me, I like to assign all my keyboard shortcuts to the left side of the keyboard.
This is how far my pretty small fingers can comfortably reach without having to lift my hand. Now, not only will this make you fast, it will allow you to keep your hand in a comfortable stationary position and avoid overuse injuries, like carpal tunnel syndrome.
By assigning shift control and option modifiers to the different letters and numbers, you’ll have more than enough available keys to map just about any functions that you use regularly. The last thing I want to mention is an important attribute that every editor needs to have.
To be a great editor, you need to have a strong desire for perfection and the willpower to stick to it. It’s dangerously easy to cut something together, polish it a little bit, and then say, and I might be able to make that a little bit better if I spend some more time on it.
But honestly, it’s good enough. Well, let me tell you from experience, it’s never good enough. The best editors learn to trust their gut. If something in a cut feels a tiny bit off or maybe it comes across as uninspired, dull, or strange.
They keep working on it until it’s perfect. Trust me. People will notice the smallest problems in a cut. Always fix them. It will separate you from 95% of the other editors out there, all right. So now that we’ve covered some essential fundamentals let’s look at some techniques that are a little bit more specific and hands-on.
What is Film Editing Pro?
The team at Film Editing Pro sat down together. And we came up with a list of all the different types of editing challenges you might run into. These are the types of editing skills you usually have to learn through trial and error.
And as a result, they usually take a long time to figure out. The list that we came up with had hundreds of topics on it literally. Since we don’t want this video to drag on forever, we just chose a handful of them to include for now.
Now, I am going to cover a lot of information very quickly here. So don’t worry if you feel a little bit overwhelmed. We’ll be coming back to all of it in a lot more detail in future videos. So first, let’s start with an audio tip.
When you’re working with sound design in let’s say, an action scene, make an effort to layer a variety of high, medium, and low end sounds to create a fuller mix like this hit which is three hits.
A bassy sub hit, a mid-range drum, and a high-end accent. You don’t need to do this every time. But when you can, you’ll find that it makes a big difference in the richness and the feeling of immersion in your scene.
Plus, you’ll be sure that you’re scene audio is fully Audible to your viewers, whether they’re watching your video on a pair of high-end studio monitors or a crappy iPhone speaker with minimal base output.
So this next tip we mentioned a bit earlier in the video. Did you know that there’s a difference in how you should organize your footage when cutting a feature versus cutting a trailer or promo? Well, there is.
And it’s a big difference. Most people know how to organize footage for a scene-based cut like a feature or a TV show. Just arrange your footage in bins and folders organized either by scene, camera roll, or shoot date.
Then within those containers, you’ll typically have all your takes separated out and possibly even labelled with some shot description or any thoughts that you might have. Cutting a trailer or a promo based on a TV show or a feature is very different.
The material is presented in a non-linear fashion, pieced together in the most exciting way to give a summary of what the full piece is about. Now, because of this, you need a different level of access to your source materials.
First, dialogue should be broken down in a bin or a folder all by itself. Typically, you’ll want to type the character’s name followed by the line that they deliver. You’ll do this for every single line in the movie.
Keep in mind at this point; you’ll probably already have at least a rough cut of the feature. So you’ll be breaking down your dialogue lines and your visuals based on the part not based on all of the dailies.
So it’s not quite as tedious as it sounds. So speaking of the visuals, you’ll want to arrange them by category. I like to use sequences, so in this example, you can see that I’ve separated all my favourite shots in each of the following categories, love and beauty, dark and sad, accents, and scope and inserts.
Now, you have access to all the shots and all the lines from anywhere in the movie based on the relevant content you need to create your trailer or promo. This makes it a lot easier to find new and exciting juxtapositions of moments, lines, and shots from your film that aren’t necessarily in the order where they occur.
And that’s what promo editing is all about. Now, here’s something I see a lot of editors struggle with. Tip 3 is about advanced music editing, specifically, custom editing a music cue. So say you’ve got a scene, and you’re using a piece of library music to score it.
But the cue isn’t long enough, or maybe you want to change the way it flows a bit. Well, there’s a lot of things we could discuss here this topic, but I’ll show you one simple and powerful technique, how to stop and start your music exactly where you want it to and make the changes seem like they’re part of the original song.
So take this cue, for example. It sounds like this. So let’s say we want to stop it and then start it back up. Cut your music off after a main downbeat. Add a little dissolve to prevent popping.
And create a small piece of media that you can then apply a reverb to. Now, you have the music stopping and the last note ringing out. To start it back up again, you can do the opposite.
Take your reverb beat, reverse it, and then use it as a lead-in back into the music, and you’re off and running.Simple and versatile, I use it all the time, all right. So tip number 4.
Here’s a fun one. How to change the audio quality as a character goes from outside to inside, gets in a car or closes a door to a room full of loud background noise. The goal is to affect the audio to make it muffled and distant sounding, which is what we’re going to do without even touching the volume levels.
So let’s try an example of someone getting into a car. Here’s what we have so far. So when the door closes, we need to make it sound like the character is now in the car.
Start by adjusting the EQ to remove the high-end crispness. We’re going to decrease the high-end sounds and mid-tones pretty much anything above 11 kilohertz in this case. A car has a lot of soundproofing, so we’ll be pretty aggressive.
Now, add a bit of de-verb or echo to the background noise, only a tiny bit to give it a distant quality. Be careful not to get too heavy-handed on this part. It should be very subtle. All right, let’s take a listen.
Nice, there it is. So you can probably already tell, the techniques we are teaching go into a lot more detail than you’re used to seeing in other training. That’s because we want to give you information that you can put to use.
And there’s no reason to spend time figuring these things out on your own. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Other people have already figured this stuff out. You can think about a lot of the things that we teach like recipes.
For example, there’s no need to figure out how to make an apple pie on your own through trial and error. Other people have already spent their time trying all the stuff that didn’t work. And they came up with a good recipe that does.
Now sure, you can tweak the recipe a bit on your own if you want, maybe add a little bit more sugar, a bit more cinnamon, and perhaps you will improve it. But there’s no reason to start from scratch.
That’s a big, frustrating, time-consuming mistake that way too many editors make. The techniques we talked about in this video are just the tip of the iceberg. We have lots of free training available on our website, including three editing mini-courses that cover everything from how to edit trailers and promos to cutting action, shaping dramatic moments, working with dialogue, and editing music to fit your cut perfectly.
Our main goal is to help you learn quickly, follow your passion, and be inspired to create amazing things. Pop into any of our free online courses, and we will send your first lesson today. Hope to see inside.