To the novice, film and video editing sounds like one of those completely technical subjects, only possibly interesting to people with very logical and pragmatic minds, much like engineers. Visions of darkrooms and sterile-looking studios filled with all types of inexplicable mechanical equipment, where rolls of film negatives are poured over and scrutinized by serious-looking people, then diced, sliced and spliced back together, somewhat completes the overall mental picture. Clinical, stark, precise. But in actuality, film and video editing is much more than celluloid or electronic image surgery. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Think of it this way; someone shoots a video of your favorite cousin’s wedding. The end product is a nice, mostly continuous documentation of the event, with abrupt starts and stops here and there when the main activity changes or moves to a different area or location that necessitates a different “shot”. The end result is a compilation of pictures and sound that is considerably better and hopefully more memorable and satisfying than still photographs, but still leaves a lot to be desired.
However, if the same raw video was placed into the hands of a skilled editor, the end result would be quite different. The resulting piece would tell the story of the culmination of your cousin’s three-year romance, as narrated by several key family members. It would capture and convey to the viewing audience the couple’s wedding day emotions of love, and joy and appreciation for one another and family, anticipation of the new life the couple intends to create together, a bit of sadness for the life they are forever leaving behind, and so on. In other words, in the hands of a skilled editor, the video becomes a “story” with a beginning, middle and end; a cohesive synopsis of the couple’s romance. A day in the life…
What most people not in the film or video industry don’t realize is that film and video editing is an art form. Editing is arguably the most important element of film or video production. It is in the editing, the art of arranging pictures and dialog and sounds, that a finished film product is able to communicate a story first envisioned by its writer, and subsequently by a director and producer to its intended audience. Days, weeks even months of shots captured on film or video must be studied, interpreted analyzed and finally distilled into a story lasting a fraction of the time it took to capture it all.
People outside the film making industry have little or no idea about “post production” and the crucial part it plays in the production of a film or video work. It is because of the significant importance of this phase of film and video production that the process takes an extended amount of time to complete.
Much more that cutting and splicing pieces of cellophane together or merely arranging video sequence, editing is a wonderful blend of technical knowledge and skill combined with an artist’s creativity and craftsmanship. It is moving, adding, deleting, juxtaposing, scenes, sounds, and images to develop film shots and video clips into a certain context, create specific imagery and timing, evoke particular emotion, create specific imagery and mold them into a story.
Film editing as a craft began in the late 1890’s in the very earliest days of motion pictures. In the intervening years between then and now, anyone interested in learning about film or video editing, usually attended college courses or one of a number of reputable film schools to learn the craft.