Your video team has just completed production and you are still well ahead of your deadline for publishing (this IS a hypothetical scenario based on a perfect world) and now it’s time to collaborate with your video editor on getting the best finished product(s) possible. Because (in this hypothetical scenario) your production team did a great job, this article assumes that you will not have to worry about fixing bad video or audio.

Your Video Editor's Master Control

A Little History

Before video, film was edited by hand, using a flatbed and razors to make the physical cuts and create transitions, ultimately separating and splicing film and combining it into the final “reel” or story. When you hear editors and producers talking about “cuts” and “bins” it has nothing to do with a biological process: the vocabulary simply carried over and is with us today.

When video first came out, linear editing was a process by which multiple tape decks would be controlled by an editor to make selections from specific points in time from a source tape and apply it to specific points of time on a new tape, called a master. This changed in the 90’s with the introduction of non-linear editing and you can read all about in this wikipedia article on non-linear editing.

Today’s editing is still considered non-linear, which means you can make changes at any point in your project, and done non-destructively, on a computer. This was a huge game changer for Hollywood, broadcast television and editors in general. At first, non-linear editing was very cost prohibitive for all but those who could shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for a system. Now, everyone at home has a non-linear editor in the form of Windows Moviemaker or iMovie.

Some Jargon You Might Hear From Your Video Editor

If you thought your production team used some weird terms, just wait until you read common words you might hear in post production.

Cut: Refers to an edit – analogous to physically cutting a piece of film.

Clip: A segment of video with a clear start and stop point, dictated by how it was recorded or by the editor’s adjustment.

Frame: A single image, usually representing 1/30th or 1/24th of a second (in North America). It can vary depending on the project settings. A collection of frames makes up a second of video. The length of a second is dictated by how it was recorded or how it’s been altered (to create an effect) or meet a certain standard depending on exporting conditions.

Timeline/Sequence: A virtual representation of the length of a project, usually measured in frames/minutes.

Selects: Video segments that have been reviewed and “selected” as the best.

Track: Tracks are segments in a timeline where specific information is placed by the editor. A track can contain video, audio, graphics or some combination thereof. It allows editors to apply various alterations without affecting everything else and it also helps organize a project.

Bin: Name after the bins where strips of film use for editing were kept. A bin allows an editor to organize data.

VO: Voiceover. A recorded voiceover (usually recorded before, but sometimes during) a program. Meant to go over a specific part in a program.

Logging: No, we’re not referring to cutting down forests here. Logging is the process where captured footage is reviewed, notes are taken and everything’s organized for post production.

Lower 3rd: A lower 3rd is often used to define the name/title of the person onscreen. As it’s name implies, it’s positioned on the lower 3rd of the frame.

Scrub: To scrub is to move the video clip forward or backward in time with limited accuracy.

Jog/Shuttle: Usually controlled by a wheel-like device. To jog is to move forward/back in a clip a frame or two at a time and to shuttle is to move forward or backward in a clip at a fast pace. The speed of both is usually controlled by manual effort.

“In” and “Out” point: An “in” point is the beginning of an edit selection or clip. An “out” point is the end of an edit selection or clip.

Insert: It’s name is what it means. To insert media in a portion of a timeline.

Rough Cut: The first approximate edit in a project, usually presented to the client for a review.

Fine or Final Cut: The final edit agreed upon by producer, video editor and client. (wait! can you do one more change?!)

The Calm Before the Storm

In a conversation with a friend of mine, who is a wildly talented video editor and motion graphics artist, he relayed a horror story that lead him to resign a client from a project. According to him, they discussed and agreed upon the terms of how the work would proceed and what to expect at each milestone. The client, who is a talented Director of Photography, had never outsourced an edit before and became infuriated with what I understood was an early stage rough edit. The word is “rough” for a reason. Needless to say, further education by the editor might have prevented this issue. Precisely why I wrote this article!

In many cases, footage will be handed over to a post production team and you’ll only have to worry about periodic reviews with your producer or video editor. Sometimes, you’ll have to work directly with your editor and since everyone has their own approach to the process, I’m laying out some guidelines to make things more productive and efficient for all parties involved, rather than saying “this is how it should be done.

Behind the Scenes

The minute your footage is delivered to the post production team, they dutifully back it up (joking, it was already backed up by your production team, right?) and an assistant editor ingests all the footage and reviews it, making notes. They may even produce “string ups” or rough edits that allow the senior editor to get to work quicker. Your producer may be working on reviewing transcripts created from interviews or coordinating with other members of the post team (audio, motion graphics, etc.).

It can be a little hazy as to who’s doing what and, as with everything, the larger the project, the more people are likely to be completing highly specialized tasks. Sometimes the producer is also the video editor… it just depends and they should be able to explain their process if you ask.

At some point, you’ll receive access to selects, a-roll and what ever else is available. If you’re making the decisions, then it’s helpful to use timecode when referring to specific segments of a video or clip so that your editor will absolutely know what you’re referring to. Timecode may be “burned” over the footage so you can refer to segments of a clip (you might also use timestamps from YouTube). It’s best to use timecode references whenever possible, but on smaller projects, it’s sometimes a moot point.

Key Takeaways:

  • Know who’s part of your post production team and what their roles are.
    • A single point of contact will reduce confusion.
  • Before going into the edit suite, have all your notes and questions prepared.
  • Take time to understand the process, what’s expected and make sure any concerns are expressed.
  • Try to provide all feedback in chunks during your review periods, sending an e-mail with new ideas every day may delay things.
  • Common review agreements allow for 1, 2 or more revisions. Make sure you know what’s been agreed to so there aren’t any surprises in your bill.
  • If you’re working in an edit suite and have questions, try to address the producer if one is present, the editor is concentrating and interruptions can be frustrating.
  • Bring the editor cookies. Just kidding, bring them something healthy to snack on.
  • Some projects take longer to edit than others, your producer should be clear about this up front.
  • Things that make post production take longer
    • The more footage that is captured, the longer archiving, logging, reviewing takes place.
      • There are systems in place to manage this, an efficient production team will have taken notes during production to make post production more organized.
      • Changes, revisions all add time that might push the final deadline forward. The sooner you bring it to the producer’s attention, the better.

Hopefully, this knowledge will help you work more productively with your video editor. Don’t forget to check out our other article in this series: How to work productively with your video producer.

Don’t Forget To Check Out Our Other Posts in This Series

How to Work Productively With Your Video Producer