Video editing

The Video Edit

It’s an interesting question – where is the video made – on the shoot, or in the edit studio? The logical answer is both -  you can’t do without the raw material, and you can’t do without some degree of organizing, decision-making, adding, subtracting, polishing etc. But the balance of time needed on both disciplines varies greatly between projects. When discussing projects with clients, what we’re going to shoot and how, there sometimes comes the statement ‘And then you’ve got all the editing to do.’ And often, without wanting to denigrate the importance of this step, I can say ‘Yes, but it’s not rocket science’ (and as an Astrophysics graduate – I speak from a position of strength!). Looking at a project which is essentially a short single-take piece to camera, the hard work is not in the video editing, it is in the preparation. If the client has their message right, and is aware that cutting and pasting is not an option if they want the video to look slick, then it’s a matter of selecting the best Take. If the sound, lighting and framing are right, how much hard work is there to do? Shooting an event promo is a different kettle of fish. Yes, there is more work in the edit, creating the right flow to the images and matching them to the soundtrack, but for me the hard work is to avoid over-shooting. When there are an almost limitless number of shots available on the day, being selective is the challenge. I know from experience that shooting 3 hours of footage for a 3 minute promo is making a rod for my own back in the edit suite as there’s usually so much good stuff that has to be thrown away. Sometimes I can keep the raw material down to 15 minutes and that is a much slicker process. One of the difficulties with this is setting an expectation with the client that I don’t always need to be behind the lens all day to create a good video that fulfills the brief. As a sideline, I used to shoot weddings, and we evolved to a good place in terms of shooting to edit. I once subcontracted for another wedding videographer who expected to shoot about 10-12 hours of footage across 2 cameras. We used shoot about half that. When a bride asks if she can see all the stuff we left out of the DVD, we tell her the truth – there isn’t much. Editing is not a process of making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear – or it shouldn’t be. It’s about making a silk purse out of carefully chosen pieces of silk.