"Editing feels almost like sculpting or a form of continuing the writing process."
- Sydney Pollack
Post-production is the stage after production. This is when the film is edited, the images are color corrected & graded and the sound is mixed, scored & enhanced.
Although this website focuses on cinematography, the well rounded filmmaker should know (at least) the basics of editing. Video Editing software is easier to use and more affordable than ever. Learning how to edit and how image sequences come together to form a compelling scene (and ultimately a complete film), will greatly improve your cinematography skills out in the field.
Through the post process, you will learn how to shoot in the field with editing in mind. Even if you are not the final editor on the film, we urge you to back up your footage, buy some editing software and learn how to cut scenes together.
On this page, we will learn:
1. The basic components of an editing system.
2. How to get started with Adobe Premiere Pro (a popular and easy to use non-linear editing program for mac or pc).
We will also meet Sean Stall and Jason Morris. Stall and Morris have been editing for decades and discuss the post production process.
THE COMPONENTS OF AN EDITING SYSTEM
An non-linear editing system can be built in many configurations. The most basic system would include:
1. A Mac or PC Computer ( with keyboard, mouse & monitor).
If you plan on editing 4K Video, we recommend Fast Processors (CPU), A fast Video/Graphics Card (GPU) and lots of RAM.
2. Editng Software
Popular Editing Software includes: Adobe Premiere Pro, Sony Vegas, Avid Media Composer and Final Cut Pro X.
A more advanced system would also include:
3. An External Hard Drive
Your editing system will perform better if your media lives on an external drive. We recommend Thunderbolt 2 drives. RAID ARRAYS are built with multiple drives and help protect your footage in case one of the drives go bad.
4. An Additional Video or Computer Monitor
It is recommended that you use your main monitor as the screen that shows your editing software and a second monitor that displays your video playback.
5. A Capture/Output Device
These devices add video inputs and outputs that you can feed to televisions, video monitors, audio monitors or decks.
6. An Audio Mixer
An Audio mixer allows you to raise or lower the levels of your audio outputs from your editing system to your audio monitors/speakers.
7. Audio Monitors/Speakers
It is important that you listen to your audio mix using proper audio monitors. Computer speakers are not always an accurate representation of the sound of your film. We also recommend getting a good pair of headphones.
8. Additional Software
There are a number of standalone programs and editing plug ins that can enhance the look of your footage. Although the editing software usually comes with many effects installed, additional effects are often needed (like film emulators and advanced color grading/color correction software).
9. Backup Drives
We recommend backing up all of your footage to at least 2 external drives. All hard drives will eventually fail and backing them up to multiple places is the best way to protect your valuable footage and project files.
GETTING STARTED WITH
ADOBE PREMIERE PRO
Just like cinematography, Editing is an art. It takes a lot of practice to be a good editor, but we thought we would show you just how easy it is to get started with one of the most popular editing programs on the market, Adobe Premiere Pro.
Here are some simple steps to get you started:
IMPORT YOUR FOOTAGE
1. Copy your footage/media to a hard drive. We recommend using a fast external drive (like a Thunderbolt 2 RAID). Putting the footage on your internal hard drive will work, but top performance may be impacted.
2. Launch Adobe Premiere Pro (located wherever your other applications are installed).
3. When the first window pops up, Click on NEW PROJECT.
4. When the next window pops up, You can:
a) Name your project (DO THIS EACH TIME YOU CREATE A NEW PROJECT)
b) Choose the location of where you want the project to be saved (YOU CAN LEAVE THIS ON THE DEFAULT SETTINGS FOR NOW)
c) Set your Scratch Disks (YOU CAN LEAVE THIS ON THE DEFAULT SETTINGS FOR NOW)
After naming your project, click OK.
5. Next, import your footage by going to FILE (top left side of the screen) and click on IMPORT.
6. Navigate to your footage (wherever you put it earlier), click on the folder or clips that you want to import and click IMPORT.
7. All of your media CLIPS are in a BIN in the PROJECT PANEL.
CREATE A TIMELINE
1. DOUBLE CLICK on the first clip you want to edit.
2. Your clip will load into the SOURCE MONITOR. The SOURCE MONITOR is where you will:
a) Play/Review your clip.
L on your keyboard will PLAY your clip.
K will PAUSE your clip.
J will REWIND your clip.
b) Pick where you want your clip to start and end -- known as picking your IN and OUT points.
I on your keyboard will mark an IN point.
O will mark an OUT point.
You can also use the PLAYBACK CONTROLS in the SOURCE MONITOR to Review your clip and mark in and out point.
3. After marking IN and OUT points on your clip, DRAG your clip from the SOURCE MONITOR to the TIMELINE. Adobe Premiere Pro will automattically create a sequence that matches the properties of your clip (frame rate, resolution, etc...). Your clip will be at the start of your TIMELINE.
Now that your first clip is at the beginning of the timeline, your clip now shows up in the PROGRAM MONITOR. This is because the PROGRAM MONITOR shows what is on your timeline. The TIMELINE is the place where you edit your clips together. It is different than the SOURCE MONITOR. The SOURCE MONITOR is strictly for reviewing clips and marking in and out points.
Your timeline is made up of VIDEO TRACKS and AUDIO TRACKS. If you recorded sound with your video, your video clips will have a video track and at least one audio track.
1. DOUBLE CLICK on the next clip you want to edit. It loads into the SOURCE MONITOR.
2. Just like before, REVIEW YOUR CLIP, MARK IN AND OUT POINTS and DRAG IT INTO YOUR TIMELINE. PLACE IT AFTER the first clip you added to the timeline. Congratulations, you just edited 2 clips together.
3. To REVIEW your edited TIMELINE, use the PLAYBACK CONTROLS in the RECORD MONITOR to navigate through your TIMELINE or use your J,K,L keyboard keys (REWIND, PAUSE & PLAY). A faster way to navigate through your timeline is to drag your mouse over the very top of the timeline. You can quickly move your mouse anywhere throughout the timeline. Drag your mouse to the front of the timeline and then press L on your keyboard to play it back in real time.
4. Continue adding more clips to your timeline. You can re-arrange clips on the timeline by just clicking on them and moving them around on the timeline. You can trim or expand the ins and outs of the clips by using your mouse to pull on the ends of the clips (drag them left and right to adjust their length).
ADJUSTING AUDIO LEVELS
You can raise or lower your audio levels many different ways in Adobe Premiere Pro. One easy way to do it is on the TIMELINE. RIGHT CLICK on the audio clip that you want to adjust in the TIMELINE. A long list of things you can adjust appears on the screen. Choose AUDIO GAIN. The AUDIO GAIN box appears. If you want to raise the audio level on this clip, put a number in the ADJUST GAIN BY box in place of 0 db (putting the number 2 in that box increases the audio gain by 2 db and the audio becomes louder). To lower the audio level, put a negative number in that box (-2 lowers the level by -2db).
Use the AUDIO METERS to the right of the TIMELINE to see where your audio levels are hitting. Usually (depending where your video will air), you want your levels to go no higher than -12db (see graphic on right).
EXPORT YOUR VIDEO
To export your video when you are finished editing:
1. mark an in and out on the timeline to let Premiere know where you want your video to start and end.
2. CLICK on FILE (top left of your screen), choose EXPORT, then MEDIA.
3. An EXPORT SETTINGS box pops up. Adobe Premiere Pro has created may presets that make exporting easy. For example, to make a 4K file for YOUTUBE, change the FORMAT to H.264 and then CLICK on PRESET and choose YOUTUBE 2160p 4K.
4. Click on the OUTPUT NAME in BLUE text and rename your output file and let Premiere know where you want to save the file.
5. Finally, press EXPORT and your YOUTUBE friendly file will be made.
SAVE YOUR PROJECT
Don't forget to SAVE your project often. Even the best editing systems crash from time to time.
We just touched on the basics of getting started in Adobe Premiere Pro. Adobe has several tutorials on their site that will teach you more. Remeber, there are many different ways to edit in Premiere. If you are a beginner, the best way to learn is just to jump in and start practicing.
We truly believe that the best Cinematographers are the ones that have some editing experience.
Sean Stall, Editor & Motion Graphics Artist
1. Tell us about yourself and the types of projects you work on.
I am a Video Editor, Motion Graphics Artist and the owner and Lead Artist of Ironik and The Loft. My Production/Post Production career is going on 28 years now. I work on everything from National Commercials to Sports Features, Documentaries and Network Promos.
2. As an editor, what are you looking for from a cinematographer?
I am looking for continuity, matching timecode (on multi-camera shoots) and dialed in cameras -- every editors dream! Otherwise, I am looking for great lighting and engaging angles.
3. What's your basic editing process?
Acquire assets, ingest into any number of applications/platforms, set up a basic workflow between editorial and motion graphics, deliver as requested by client.
4. What's your approach on cutting an impactful scene or piece?
Building up tempo, slow reveals, payoff at the end. Keep away from being predictable.
5. What's your basic gear package?
Multiple PC workstations hosting Adobe, Avid and a myriad of other motion graphics, plugins and third party applications.
6. Any advice for someone that wants to become a professional editor?
Reinvent yourself every couple of years, stay up to date on technology trends, keep networking and work in as many mediums as possible. Don't get stale by becoming a factory line worker.
Jason Morris, Editor
1. Tell us about yourself and the types of projects you work on.
I graduated from film school in 1995. Since then, I've been an Editor and Camera Operator. I've shot everything from independent films to rocket launches. I spend most of my days now editing for clients like ESPN and ABC. I've won 2 National Emmy Awards as a member of a popular tv sports show and 8 feature stories I have edited, were nominated for National Emmy Awards.
2. Who or what influenced or influences your work?
I've always loved films. In my college days, I would go and see 4 movies in a row in the theater. I love indie and foreign films. I also love big pop corn movies. There is nothing more satisfying to me than a well told story.
3. What's your approach to collaborating with a film director or a TV producer?
Director and Producers are all different. As a Camera Operator, I like to do a lot of Pre-production work. That incudes creating shot lists and storyboards. I also love visiting all of the locations before the shoot and working out all of the potentail issues (from sound to lighting). I've found that the more planning you do, the better everything goes on the shoot.
As an Editor, sometimes I just get all of the raw materials and just start editing based on the script. Later, the Director or Producer comes in and we make tweaks. Other times, it's a collaboration with the Producer or Director sitting right behind me the entire time. The creative synergy can be quite energizing. Working with someone for the first time can be a little awkward, but once you get a feel for what they like and they begin to trust your instincts, it becomes a fun collaboration.
4. What's your basic approach to editng a scene?
I like to work very fast in the beginning by going with my gut instinct and putting together shot sequences that flow and have the most emotional impact. Once I have a scene put together, I go back and fine tune it. When the project is completely assembled, you fine tune it again and make sure that is works as a whole. Don't be afraid to leave things on the cutting room floor. In the end, if it doesn't serve the story, lose it. You have to trust the intelligence of your audience.
5. How do you handle the pressure on set?
As a Camera Operator, you develop a procedure over the years. This procedure is very important. You know what you have to do before the camera rolls, so keep things moving. If you have a crew to work with, delegate the work to be more efficient. Problems will arise, but filmaking is problem solving. Don't be afraid to collaborate. There's nothing more satisfying then creating something good (and occasionally great), even if it's a lot of hard work. Each project becomes your baby.
6. What is some of your favorite gear to work with and why?
As an editor, I like using Adobe Premiere Pro for the simple fact that it is fast and easy to use. Just import your digital media in real time and go. I also enjoy using Avid Media Composer. It has a steeper learning curve, but it's super stable to work with when a client is sitting behind you.
As a Camera Operator, I love using the Blackmagic Design Cameras that can shoot RAW (when I have a good amount of time to work on a project). This is because RAW is very powerful to grade, but is more time consuming in post. On projects that are quick turn araound, the Sony cameras have nice film gamma settings that have a great right out of the box look.
7. What advice would you give to a filmmaker just starting out in the business?
The people that make it in this business are the ones that work hard to learn the craft, have great attitudes and love what they do. If I never got paid to do another edit or shoot another project in my life, I would still do it on my spare time! How many people can say that they love thier job that much?
COPYRIGHT 2016 J. MORRIS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.