Looking for an easy way to edit your film professionally?

First and foremost, I want to make it clear that this article is only for people who want to make a film or series of fiction or documentary. This is about optimizing the process of research and creative experimentation. If you are looking for a method to edit your last holiday movie (which is very good in itself), you may not find your happiness 

Anyway, I thought it was more than essential that I present you how to build the workflow of a professional cinema editing. Here is a summary of the 10 major steps that I spend when I take charge of editing a fiction or a documentary … Enjoy! 

1. Gather and check the script reports.
The very first step is obviously to gather all the reports of the script. On the set, the script (or the script, even if this job is known to welcome a lot of women) is the person responsible for the respect of the narrative continuity of the film (in English we speak about continuity girl). It notes on these reports all the technical and artistic assessments mentioned for each of the shots made on the film set.

The script is the best friend of the image editor, since it is precisely to build piece by piece the final continuity of the film. If you are on a project that includes a script, it is essential to gather all the reports it has been able to establish during production, even before starting the editing phase.

2. Gather and organize rushes
In professional jargon, we call rushes everything related to the image and audio equipment used to edit.

After recovering and collecting the script reports, you must obviously recover all that has been produced in the image and sound, to be able to edit. But you are not going to start directly because …

A good editor is an organized editor!

You will therefore take the time to make clean backups of all the materials in the production. When I say everything, it’s ALL that you have recovered! The image, audio, reports, scenario, … everything you need when you are in your bubble during the editing process.

3. Watch and listen to the rushes
There is often a fairly widespread confusion between the fact of “Derusher” (francization pretty disgusting, I agree  and the backup process. I have often heard the term “Derusher” to designate a simple backup of files. In reality, when we talk about “Derush”, it is more a question of viewing and listening to the image and audio material produced during the shooting.

I personally find that this phase is often a little neglected. I had the opportunity to see a lot of filmmakers get impatient to see the editing of their film finally finished. Faced with this impatience, they tend, in my opinion, to confuse creative efficiency with speed of execution. Two fundamentally incompatible principles. I also understand this impatience because I myself have been in this case for a very long time. Today I am convinced that to optimize its creative capacity during the editing phase, it is necessary to ask and take the time to assimilate what has been produced.

4. Take a step back.
After learning about the material produced during the filming, I encourage you to let go at least for a while 

Take a few days or weeks off and give yourself the opportunity to forget the project at least in part. Your unconscious will work in the background, while you enjoy a moment of respite.

This step seems all the more necessary if you have been directly involved in one way or another in the production of the film. You have to free yourself from the story of the shoot, to focus on the one you will actually be able to tell through your editing.

5. Perform a pre-assembly session.
The pre-assembly also seems to me a step largely underestimated in most cases. The big dilemma of this step is that it is not always necessary.

In my experience, I would say that the choice of whether or not to pre-assemble is a relatively binary choice. If the project is consistent and involves many creative decision makers, then there is a good chance that a pre-assembly is essential. If, on the other hand, the project is light enough and relies on only one or two decision-makers, pre-assembly can become a rather unnecessary step (or even a waste of time in some cases).

For my part, I use the Adobe Prelude software, which allows you to browse the rushes and place fairly detailed and detailed annotations that you can find later in Premiere Pro. I had already written an article about the making-of of a web series that I had participated in as an editor, and in which I had just used Prelude. The creative decision makers were four !! It would have been suicide not to go through a pre-assembly phase 

6. Organize your workspace.
We finally arrive in the editing software! Very cool ! That’s it we go up !

Not so fast!
We make a little tea and relax .

If you have properly organized your backups, the organization of your workspace in the editing software should not be very long. It’s all about optimizing your working comfort to make the film editing process easier.

In a software like Premiere Pro for example, you will be able to find what are called bins in English whose architecture does not necessarily correspond to that of the directories of your backups. It’s up to you to organize this space so you can find it quickly and easily.

Then you can also close all the panels you do not need, as well as any other software running in parallel. Today, video editing software has become more popular at a point where it has become normal to be able to open it as you open a word processor for example. But optimized cinema editing stations are usually stations entirely dedicated to the software.

7. Make audio synchronization
We are almost there ! 

Another last step usually very boring, but essential.

If you start editing your movie without synchronizing the audio beforehand, you may have to go back to find the connections between audio and picture jacks.

Today there are timecode synchronization systems or plugins like PluralEyes, which greatly facilitate the process. But I do not advise you to take the bad habit of starting to climb without sync.

So yes, it’s a very boring step!
But when done well, it frees up weight and further focus on the creative value of editing.

Note that in a full team, it is usually the assistant editor who takes care of all the backup and synchronization part, to allow the editor the opportunity to focus on his creative responsibilities.

8. Make a first version.
Eeenfin! That’s it ! We edit the movie 

The first version of a montage is called the bear, or the end-to-end or the rough montage. And to say that the name is rather well chosen, because in most cases, the first version of a montage is always disgusting and literally shit (to speak frankly! This is often a time when we say that the film may be missed and that all that preceded the post-production phase, was a big joke in the service of a monumental failure 

Do not worry, I think we all go there 

In my opinion, the key to not losing feet at this time, is to keep in mind that this is only a very first throw. Most of the time this raw version is also absolutely not worked on the audio (since it is necessary to validate and lock the image editing before switching to audio). With a still disgusting audio, any movie looks disgusting … even in a more advanced version of the montage .

9. Make a first debrief.
In my opinion, the first debriefing is one of the most decisive.
Especially if you are not the director of the film.

In my experience, I have observed that the first debriefs are naturally the richest ones and those that usually lead to the most significant changes. In general, assume that the more debriefing you do, the less radical changes will occur. This is not always true 100%, because there are always exceptions, but it is often the case.

To make an effective debrief, I advise you to take notes in advance and especially to prohibit any changes during debriefing! If you start editing live live editing in front of the director … you have not finished editing! Creative intent is a bottomless well! The role of an editor is precisely to have the perspective that the director does not have on the film. If you change the editing under the direct direction of the director … as much as the director takes your place!

10. Make a new version.
Once the debrief done, you just have to make a new version … a new debrief later … and then a new version … and so on until the editing is validated and locked.

When the image editing is locked, you can export the entire project so that the audio is properly processed. Several positions can intervene at this level. In some professional teams there are even specialized sound mixers.

But that’s another matter .

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