The biggest challenge of a video editor is to make the editing unnoticeable. cutting on the action is one way to do that. That is why it’s the first thing they will teach you in each video editing course out there. In this post, I will teach you everything you need to know about cutting on action from the shooting stage and to the editing.
Cutting on the action definition
Cutting on the action is a cut that is done in the middle of an action. The shot changes to a different angle when the character that the viewer has most focus on is in a middle of an action.
The advantages of cutting on action
As a video editor, your first job when cutting is to look for the action. This is a great technique to create an unnoticeable cut because the audience is too distracted by the action to notice the cut. Cutting on the action also helps to draw the audience into the story. For example, you can have a character typing on the computer and while he types, we cut to his fingers. Another advantage to the Cut on action is that it’s the perfect seamless continuity technique. Even if you’ll shoot each angle in a different location, it is most likely that the audience won’t notice that.
Planning the cut on action in shooting
It is the director and the cinematographer’s job to make sure the two shots are shot in a way that will be easy to connect the shots. On our typing example, the actor will have to do the action twice at each angle and at both times, he’ll have to type the same way. The most important element to pay attention to is that the two shots will be shot with a direction distance of at least 30 – degree from each other. Sometimes you can do cut on the action without changing direction, but it requires the right plannings.
The most important element to pay attention to is that the two shots will be shot with a direction distance of at least 30 – degree from each other. Sometimes you can do cut on the action without changing direction, but it requires the right planning.
When to do the cut
Some video editors like to debate about when it’s the right time to cut- at the beginning of an action, the middle or towards the end. Some claim that if you cut in the beginning of a cut, then you leave the viewer with a long shot until the next cut. Others will claim that cutting towards the end of the action will be too late and the viewer will already be bored.
I wouldn’t suggest to limit yourself with any rules about it. Simply try different cuts and see when it work best. With time, you’ll develop the sense that will help you understand the right timing for the cut, but basically, you should find a spot where the action looks the same at both shots.
Many independent films want to save money and sometimes there is simply not enough time (or money) to send the movie to a professional colorist, so the video editor will be asked to do some color corrections on the film. That is why in this post I will guide you through all the steps to create an image with perfect colors. It is not a color correction tutorial or a “How to make cinematic color correction post”, but it will teach you all the basics you need to learn about color grading.
The color correction workflow stage(also known as color grading workflow) is at the end of the film video editing of the film and it’s purpose is to change the color in the images. Color correction helps the film director to get the artistic look he is having trouble to get on the locations. For example, controlling the viewer’s eyes with colors. Sometimes the reason for color correction is the bad lighting, bad exposure, bad white balance on the locations, simply matching the colors between the shots, and sometimes it will be old footage that simply requires color correction.
What equipment is best for color correction
Before we go into the color correction workflow, let’s start with the equipment you’ll need. There are many color correction software out there. Some are very expensive and some of them are free. Even though it is recommended to do color correction with the right equipment, All of the big 3 editing software: Avid, Premier, and Final Cut offer a variety of great tools for color correction and as a video editor you will be asked to use them. You can also use the DaVinci Resolve software which is more complicated, but much more professional and some video editors even use After Effects for color correction (Personally, I recommend using After Effects only for small clips). Avid has also a plugin called Symphony, which is also a great tool for color correction and you can do the secondary color correction, which means painting specific areas in the image. If you want to be a professional colorist, I would recommend learning the DaVinci Resolve software, but to start with the Avid color tools or the Avid Symphony and then to turn to the DaVinci Resolve only for deeper and complicated color changes.
You also need to have a good monitor. One that is suit for color correction.
1st step in color correction workflow – understand what you see
Your first step is to understand the colors in the image – what are the problems you are facing? Is there a problem with the general tone of the image?
When you deal with colors on an image, you can’t rely only on your eyes. Use scope tools like RGB parade or waveforms.
Using the scopes
When working on color correction, don’t trust your eyes. Scopes are the only way you can really understand the colors in the movie. With the scopes tools, you can balance the blacks and whites and the red, green and blue colors.
The Histogram scope, for example, displays you the brights levels of the image. So you can check if there are parts in your image that are too dark or overexposed. The waveform also is a popular scope in color correction for balancing the lights. In Final Cut, you have the option to see Zebra patterns imposed on the image as a warning for areas that are too bright. Learn your software tools to understand the colors in the image.
The RGB scope shows you the amount of blue, green and red colors in your image. Before you start working on the colors, try to visualize the picture in the graph. Try to understand what each piece of the graph is representing in the picture. Now your job is to fix what looks wrong.
Use the vector scope to understand the science of colors. The vectorscope shows you opposite colors and what are the colors that build other colors. For example, if you have too much yellow, you can see in the vector that it. With the scopes tools, you can balance the blacks and whites and to balance between the red, green and blue.
Remember, when doing color correction you must have a professional monitor. Making the color look good in the scopes won’t promise a good picture.
The stage of color correction is done only after the video editing is final. When you send the finished video to the sound design you can send it also to color correction.
2nd step in color correction workflow – Make the color consistent
A lot of times the lighting in a scene will change with every change of camera angle. So your first job is to make sure all the colors in each scene are consistent. Only after you feel you did a good job on that part, you can move on to understand what kind of ‘look’ the film should have
3rd step in color correction workflow – Setting up the color theme
After you went through these 2 steps. start thinking about the general color for the film. Remember- color correction is also about telling your story with colors, and expressing the mood and the feelings of the scene. Cold colors will express sadness while warm colors can express happiness.
In this digital video editing lesson, We’ll talk about digital video editing for a comedy. In comedy, the digital video editing has an important role. A joke can fail or succeed by changing one frame or two, so understanding and learning the art of digital video editing in a comedy is very important.
What kind of comedy is it?
The type of comedy you work on will have a lot of influence on the video editing. This is why your first job as a video editor will be to find out what kind of comedy it is. For example, in character-based comedies like Charlie Chaplin, the Marx Brothers, Austin Powers, Peter Sellers and so on, the editor will have to meet certain expectations from the audience regarding the comic character. In this cases, if the comic character is doing a good job, you shouldn’t do too much editing.
In Satires, the humor can be vastly exaggerated and one of the editor’s decision will be when to stop the joke. If the joke is at the expense of the other, the video editor will highlight the brutality of what happened to the victim up to a certain limit, when it is no longer funny.
If the joke is at the expense of the other, the video editor will highlight the brutality of what happened to the victim up to a certain limit, when it is no longer funny.
Make sure you completely understand the type of comedy you are editing and what is it purpose. Is it to make the main comic character look very funny or crazy or is it the situations that need the focus.
Timing in digital video editing for a Comedy
In verbal comedies such as sitcoms, the video editor can’t do a lot but using his timing sense. The timing sense is an important tool the video editor must develop when working on a comedy. The editor should keep asking himself, how long can we pull that joke on? When do I raise the rhythm of the editing? And when to put the punchline?
In sitcoms timing will also be to decide how long the crowed laughter is going to last.
The only way to decide what’s the right timing for each joke is to simply try. There are many ways to show each joke so be patient and don’t be an afraid to keep trying new ideas.
Get involved in production
I recommend visiting the shooting set when you can. It will help you to get into the atmosphere of the humor in the film and you can also give the director notes that will help in the editing room. Visiting the set might be hard in feature films, but can work great on sketches, short films or even sitcoms.
Make sure the everything is clear
When the audience is confused, he won’t be relaxed enough to laugh at the jokes. Many directors like to show unusual camera angles – personally, I thing that is the kind of thing that interrupt the comedy. In a case like this, you should have a talk with the director and to understand what id more important for him? To show these great camera angles or that audience will laugh?
The main tip you need to understand here is that the more realistic your situation is going to be presented (even when it far fetched from reality), the easier it will be for the audience to relate and to laugh at it.
Reaction shot – the #1 tool for digital video editing for a comedy
The reaction shot is a very important tool of the comedic editing. It is a shot that shows how the characters in the situation react to the situation. I recommend looking for the good re- action shots in the going through the rushes stage. The reaction shot allows the audience to relate to the characters and express what they are feeling, but can’t express it. It also gives time for the audience to laugh before the joke continues.
In this example, Dr. Evil talk about his childhood life. The reaction shots show us how the other characters are starting to understand that he is crazy and the more they realize it, the more we are on the same level and the scene becomes funnier.
If you want to edit a comedy, I really recommend watching lots of comedies and understand what is it that the video editor does, that makes the joke work.
Learning the video terms can be a little dull sometimes, but it’s very important to understand the tools you are using as a cinematographer, director and video editor. Not knowing them will not only hurt your film but also will make you look bad in front of other peers in the industry. You can be very creative, but if you don’t know the basic digital video terminology, you might look unprofessional.
You don’t need to be afraid from the technical terms, they’re pretty easy to understand, but there are too many of them. In this cinematography lesson, I’m not going to go through all of the video glossaries, but I am going to explain the terms in great detail. If you’ll want to find out more about these stuff I recommend reading The Filmmaker’s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age. This book is kind of known as the bible of filmmaking. It talks about more than just technical terms, but it focuses on the technical parts just enough to set you on your way.
So let’s get started:
A term that started to be more important for cameramen these days. Aspect ratio indicates the size of the picture by stating the relationship of the width and the height size. It will be presented with two number separated with a colon. The first one will indicate the width of the frame and the second number will indicate the height of the frame. In the aspect ratio 16:9 the 16 is relating to the width and the 9 is to the height,
but it is important to remember that the number is not declaring the size of the frame only the relationship of the with the height, so the aspect ratio 16:9 can be also represented as 8:4.5.
The Aspect ratio term used to be a simple term since they were only two – 4:3 and 1.85:1. The four to three ratio and the 1.33:1 are known as standard definition (SD) and the 4:3 is known mainly the way most of the old TV shows were shot. The 1.85:1 has the widescreen look and could only be achieved by a film.
The digital age brought different kinds of new aspect ratios, but the most important one is the 16:9 ratio wich belongs to all high definition formats (HD) and this is the ratio all TV and filmmakers are using more often this days, since it’s the only way to get the widescreen film look. And of course, the is the 4K ratio, wich is 1.9:1
The aspect ratio is very important for video editors as they define the project in these settings
When shooting your video, you must take under consideration that showing your video in a different aspect ratio medium may cause loosing parts of the frame or showing parts, you didn’t want the audience to see. This is the reason that sometimes when you watch on a 4:3 TV set a film that was shot in a 1.85:1 ratio, you can see the boom mike at the upper side of the frame. If you don’t want to lose parts of the frame simply shoot within the “Safe Zone” of your camera.
A shot is built from frames. Frame rates, also known as FPS (Frame Per Second) is the term that indicates how many frames are shot in each second. When films first started it was 16 frames per second. Since then the frame rate has risen up a lot. Today there are 8 types of frame rates to shoot at.
Choosing the one you want to shoot at got to do a lot with the kind of look you want your film to have and how your film is going to be shown.
HD videos can go up to 60 fps, but in the SD world, the most used frame rate in America even today is the 24 fps. Other parts of the world use 25 fps for television and 24fps for a film.
The frame rate can determine how slow or fast a camera will shoot. This means that if you shoot in a lower frame rate the shot will be fast forward.
The frame rate is very important for video editors as they define the project in these settings.
When shooting make sure the frame rate isn’t changing or you will have a lot of problems at the editing room, unless there it is very important for your film to do that.
Each picture of the frame is built from small pixels, which are like little dots. The image resolution is usually defined by the number of Pixels in the picture and described by the number of horizontal and vertical pixels. NTSC frames are composed define as 720X480 which means the width is 720 and the length is 480.
PAL videos are 720X576
Full HD is 1920X1080.
The bigger the image resolution is the “heavier” the file will be.
When video editing, changing the resolution by scaling the video will hurt the picture. If you shot at 720X576, you can’t turn it into HD
You should already know that light is the main tool the camera uses to create a picture. The light is bouncing on the photographed object and into the camera’s lens. The amount of light entering the lens, will set the amount of information we’ll get, but also the mood of the shot.
This amount of light is defined by the exposure. If you bring too much light into the camera’s lens, you will overexpose the shot. If there’ll be not enough light, you will underexpose it.
You can control the amount of light that enters your camera with the shutter speed and the iris (aperture) settings. Increasing the shutter will bring more light in. Usually, you will want it in the middle- not too bright and not too dark.
Some cinematographer uses a light meter to measure the intensity of the light, but if you don’t have one, the best way to set the exposure is to get as close as you can to the object, you want to shoot. Then you move backwards into the shot you planned while setting the exposure through the way it showed you at the close-up
So that’s about it. If you want me to write more articles like this, please let me know. As I said in the home page, I would like to focus more on the creative stuff, but some of you emailed me and asked me to talk about some digital video terminology, so I did.
If you want to become an expert in video editing, editing a documentary film will be a great start. The documentary films have brought a lot of innovations to the film editing industry. You can read about some of them in the Documentary Filmmaking History post, but the main one is Vertov’s film “The Man with a Movie Camera” which shows a lot of manipulations with camera and editing. The are no strict rules when it come to documentary and this kind of freedom can be great, but also castrating. A large amount of footage and the endless possibilities of editing can be scary, so here are some tips to make sense out of it.
Editing The Documentary Structure
There are a few general structures that documentary films usually use: The “talking heads” – which is a movie that is made entirely out of interviews. “The Personal Story”- Where the filmmaker is telling us something personal about him,
The Narrator films– which are films that are being guided with a voice over and “The Day in A Life” films– which is a movie that follow a character or a group of people throughout the day (it can be more than 1 day). You can start with these basic structures and develop your style from there.
The big difference between fiction and documentary films is that in a documentary film the structure needs to be invented in the editing room, so you might want to play around a little with the structure before you go into fine edits. That’s include deciding what’s going in and what is going out. You can read all about structure in my post on Script Structure, but basically, you need a story that develops. It starts at one point and ends at another. As an editor, you have to make sure that the starting and the end point are clear to the audience in the whole story and in each and every scene. For example, if locations are changing, you need to make sure it is understood.
When you work on the structure of the film, you have to understand and even feel the social and political ideas of the director and his vision for the film. That is an important tip because if you won’t understand his vision, you’ll end up just being his tool that does only what he sais. Once you understand all that, your eyes become the director’s greatest tool. It is also advised that you’ll get to know the story and the script (if there is one) before the shooting. If it is possible I would even advise you to visit the set and maybe get to know the characters a little.
Don’t get stuck on the first draft for too long. Everything will change later on. Right now you purpose is just to understand the story and start getting ideas about how to tell it.
Editing The documentary Film Takes a Long Time
It is very hard to plan how long a documentary editing is going to last. Not only that building the structure takes time, but most of the times the editing stops because the director understands he needs to get out to shoot some more footage. One of the biggest challenges of the video editor is to know when to stop working on a scene. In video editing and Documentaries especially the number of times, you can fix a scene is countless. Knowing when to stop work on a scene is an ability you’ll get with the experience. Sometimes it’s best to let the scene rest for a few days and then come back to it, but trust me! When you’ll look at the scene again in one year, later on, it will look a lot better then how you think it is right now.
The problem with documentaries films is that usually, they are working with a low budget and they can’t afford too many hours, so you better learn how to work quickly and efficiently.
Digitizing/Capturing and Importing for Editing The Documentary Film
Since you will probably be working with a large amount of footage, it is important to be organized. That is why when you capture or import the files, you have to give them a name right away. The name should describe the file in one or two words. You should also write the scene it belongs to and the take number, So if we are having an interview with James the dog and the file we are naming are the second take and it belongs to the first scene, it will look something like this: James_1_2 or James_Int_1_2 (The Int stands for interview)
You have to know the footage very well. Watch every single shot of the footage. don’t be lazy. Each shot is important since you can never tell which one will add to a good cut. Watch also the outtakes, sometimes there are great treasures there. While you do that, you can start thinking about the general structure of te film and what it is about.
Many video editors like to import or capture the footage in low resolution to save space on their hard drive and when the movie is done, they re-capture or re-import the footage of the final sequence in a higher resolution.
I also advise you to organize the files on your hard drive in a way you can easily find everything. That is an important tip, especially when working with the premier, or Avid AMA where the software is working with the original files by linking to them. Keeping the files organize will help you to prevent cases where the files in the editing software appear offline.
Organizing the Files for Editing The Documentary Film
Each video editor has it’s own way to organize the material. It can be by scenes or by characters. You can make a bin for interviews, a bin for dialogs or maybe even divide the bins by locations. It’s all depend on your film. It is recommended to have a folder for B-roll footage. B-roll footage is visuals without anyone talking to them. Each one of them should have a short name that describes what happening in the shot in general. Organisation the footage is very important in video editing especially on a documentary film where you usually get a lot of different types of footage.
Personally, I like to import or capture the footage into bins with the names of the tapes or cards that they are taken from and after that to copy all the clips to the new organized way I decided to go with. Knowing where the clip is coming from is very important for the whole process of the editing and I promise you, you will find yourself asking in what day was that clip shot at. Oh, and one more tip- You might want to have the clips in frame view, so you can find them quickly.
Know Some Basic Color Correction Techniques
I think every video editor should know basic tricks with color correction especially when working with a documentary. The problem with documentary films is that there isn’t always time to set white balance and lighting so the footage can come out very flat. You will be expected to fix at least small errors of color
Editing the Documentary Interviews
When having a movie with lots of interviews it is better to start with editing the narrative through the interviews. Then you can start playing with the clips and their order. Try different things. Don’t think about structure yet, only the story.
Many documentaries films are known as Talking-head films. It means they are built mainly or entirely from interviews. The trick the video editor uses, so it won’t be boring, is to cut away from the talking head to the more interesting footage. The B-roll visuals should be connected in some way to what the talking head is talking about at that moment, but don’t repeat with the visual what the interviewee is saying. The visual should be loyal to the premise of what the interviewee is saying and not to his specific words. If he is saying “I was very sad” showing him crying as visual will be to say the same thing twice and that is boring too. Try to find footage that enhance what the interviewee is saying.
On your editing software, insert the B-roll shot on a different layer from the interviews layer.
The B-roll should be edited by the rhythm of the speech as if the speech is music.
The great thing about covering the talking head is tat I can delete all the coughing, pauses and “umms” of the interviewee.
If you have a lot of interviews footage it can be a good idea to ask the producer a script of all the interviews. It will be a lot more easy and fast to read the script then watching all the material. The Media Composer has a way to connect the interview clips to the written transcript, so it’s very recommended to use it if you know how.
Editing The Documentary Sound
You might think that sound design is something that is needed only in narrative films, but that is wrong. The documentary films have a lot of sound errors that you might need to improve. Personally, when it comes to documentary films, as an editor, I like to do it myself and not to send it to sound design. One of the main problems I run into as a video editor in documentary films is that since all the characters are attached to microphones, there are no background noises and I need to add them myself.
On the other hand, sometimes there might bee too much background noise that needs to be clear so we can hear the dialogs.
The biggest work with a sound you’ll have is fixing the coughing and pausing of the interviewees and of the voice overs. Sometimes you’ll need to take one sentence from one interview and attach it to another from a completely different interview.
Finding a system to organised your video editing files should be the first thing you do after opening your video editor software. It doesn’t matter what video editing software you are using – movie maker, Avid or Premier, every video editor knows that organising video and footage should be done even before capturing or importing the material.
Finding the strategy to organised your clips will make you work a lot better and faster. If you are working on very small projects right now, you might not see the need for organized files, but you should build the habit of organized work, so you won’t be in shock when big projects will come along.
Here are some organizing tips to get started:
Working With Tapes & SD cards
If you are working with tapes, you should start by giving them names (actually, it was the cinematographer’s job, but it’s your job to make sure he did it and that the names are clear enough for you). These tapes (or SD cards) are what you are getting from the field, so it’s very important to give them the attention they need. When you will start capturing the tapes, you will write the name of each tape you are recording on, so later on when you will need to re-capture everything (maybe to capture again in better quality or maybe just because the media files got lost), you will not have a problem.
Managing & organizing the clips
The clips will be named after the scene’s number, the shot’s number and the take’s number, so it can be something like 05-06-03, which means scene 5 – shot 6 – take 3. Keep the names short.
If you already know the material, most video editing software (like Avid) will give you the option to color the clips in a different color like green for good takes and red color for bad takes. Now I’m going to make a folder called RAW MATERIALS and to put all the bins inside it.
Now you need to decide how you want to capture/Import the materials into the bins. Personally, I like to organize the bins first by the days of shooting. For example, If I have 3 tapes on shooting day 1, they will all be placed in the “Day 1” bin. All the tapes of the next shooting day will be placed on the “Day 2” bin and etc.
After I will finish all the capturing/importing, I’ll usually make another folder called “Editor” or “Work” and then I’ll copy all of the clips to new bins which will be organized by scenes. Later on, you’ll also have to make a bin for graphics, audio and everything else that is not your video files. If you want, you can also make a bin for bloopers or behind the scenes shots.
Another tip is to give numbers to your folders, for example, 01_Media, 02_Audio,03_GFX and etc. That way the video editing software will organize the folders in the order you want them to be. It is also recommended to have a bin called Master or Current Edit, and to put in it the last version of the edited sequence.
No matter what strategy, you choose, you must be consistent with it. If something doesn’t work for you, you can change it, but make sure you are changing all the material. I would love to hear how you are managing you video & footage in your video editing software, so you can answer me in the comment section.
The art of editing is divided into 2 schools – those who claim video editing should be noticed and those who claim the complete opposite. Most film today try their best to keep continuity going and to draw less attention to the editing as possible.
Making the continuity possible is, first of all, the production’s job, but if they failed to do so, it is the editor that will have to fix it. In this article, I will introduce you to some awesome continuity editing techniques.
continuity editing the definition
Films are rarely shot in the order of the script. Even inside the scene the order of the shooting is determent by locations limitations, actor’s schedule etc. (you can read about the factors of production schedule here) continuity is a system the filmmakers use to keep things consistent between two shots that will be edited together. The elements that usually can break continuity are such as lighting, character’s movements, sounds, backgrounds and object placements, It’s something that is very hard to pay attention to and even in blockbuster films you can see mistakes like that.
Continuity in lighting means that the colors in the frames are the same in every shot. Sometimes the director might shoot a dialog where the close-ups in it were shot in two different places. I mean each character were shot in a different place. The element that can break our continuity here is most likely to be exposure and lighting of the shots – They should be the same. The editor’s job is to do whatever it takes, to help them look as if they are talking to each other. In this case, the editor might need to do some color correction to fix the continuity problem. That is usually done by the extremely skilled colorist.
Continuity in objects
Here is an example of a very common mistake, when one of the characters is smoking a cigar and the size of the cigar changes on the different take (first it’s long, then it’s short and then long again).
Or let’s say an actor is holding a glass on the right hand and on the next take he is holding it in the left hand. In this case, there isn’t much the editor can do to fix it but simply choosing a different shot, but if the best take is the one that the actor is holding the glass on the different hand, I would say – use that. If the actorr performance is good enough, the discontinuity would not be noticed. In the movie Pulp fiction, there is a scene where John Travolta needs to stick a needle in Uma Thurman’s chest. On the close up of the chest, there is a red mark, but when she gets up with the needle in her chest, the red mark is gone. The scene is so full of energy and actors give such a great performance that it is not noticeable.
continuity editing techniques
The first thing you need to do before editing a scene is to go through all of the material and see if there are shot that might cause a problem. See also if there is are a solution you can give them. For example, if a character is facing right and on the next shot it is facing left, you can fix it with a flop effect (an effect that changes a direction of the frame). If there is a discontinuity in the action of the actor or in an object in the scene, a good solution can also be putting the third shot in between the problematic two if it’s possible.
Make it a ritual before starting to edit a scene to look for discontinuity possibilities and when you finish editing the scene, look for it again.
After all of that, I recommend watching Jean-Luc Goddard’s film, Band -a- part, Where he introduce to the world of cinema a new kind of editing possibilities by creating obvious jump cuts and discontinuity. He did that for political reasons to claim, that when you watch a movie, you should be aware that it is just a movie, so you won’t be manipulated so easy. Today jump cuts can appear in the mainstream films, but only if it serves the premise of the film.
The digital video editing process is divided into several stages. Many people considered this part as a very simple one (simply plug shots together like Lego), but this is a mistake that hurts lots of beginners filmmakers. Digital video editing is one of the most important steps in the film production. It is basically writing the final script of the film.
so here are all the stages, you need to go through when getting into the editing room:
Watching the raw material
All of the digital video editing processes starts with watching the materials from beginning to the end. This is usually done by the director, and the video editor and sometimes the producer too. While watching they will decide what the video editor should and shouldn’t sample and they will also start to have an idea as for how the film should look like. Many productions have a thing called “Dailies” which is a meeting of all the lead production members to watch the raw material of what they shot that day. Some video editor like to participate on that, so they won’t have to watch all of it together at once. Sometimes you might get notes about the shootings.
It is advisable to watch the material by the order it was shot since it can help you to see how the scenes were developed and to understand the director mindset. At this point, you should start to have an idea as for how the film should look like. Pay attention to the shots and performances that are really doing something for you and write them down.
The next digital video editing step will be a sampling all of the selected materials. Which means capturing the material into the editing software. If you still live in the 90’s and your materials were taken from Mini DV tapes, it is customary to capture the materials with a special video for this kind of tapes. You can also capture from a mini-DV camera, but is not recommended for the camera to agree with that ;-). The sampling operation is made simpler when working with files, although sometimes your editing program will ask you to convert the files before starting.
Organize your material
The video editor has to deal with a large amount of raw material. Usually, he will make one minute of film from every few hours of material, so it’s very important to work in an orderly and organized manner. The sampling stage is the stage to organize your material. The organization of the material is very important and will help you to analyze your material and to work more effective. You can read more about it at my post on Organizing Video & Footage in Your Video Editing Software
Connecting the best raw material segments together into one very long movie without any real editing. The video editor can work with a shooting script or a storyboard as a guideline. It is also possible to insert clips that you are unsure about them. The aim is mainly to arrange the raw materials in the chronicle order of the film while reducing them as much as possible. When you’ll finish the assembly, you might find that the pace of every scene is very different from each other. At this point it’s OK.
In most cases, you will want to start from the beginning of the film, but sometimes it might work best to start from the middle and then connect all the scenes together.
The rough cut stage is when you start thinking about the story. The director and the editor are required to make large artistic decisions for the film and to built the foundation of the director’s vision. The rough cut is shown to the producer and everyone that can contribute to the shaping of the overall editing. The cuts are still not perfect, but the general idea of how the film is going to look like is presented.
At this point, the film has been shortened to a final length. The director and the video editor have been tightening all the cuts, the dialogs, the pace of the film and so on. It’s still not the final cut completely, there are still some scenes that might be deleted, but it is the closest you can get to final cut, before sending it to sound design and color correction. After these stages there are several additional steps that the film has to go through in order to reach perfection:
1. sound design– Today video editors can perform many repairs to the film’s sound, but they are still limited, so you should send the film to sound designers for best results. 2. Color-correction -The basic color corrections is increasing the contrast of the black and white colors and highlighting the image or change the dominant colors in the movie. As long as you need basic things, the video editor can help you, but it is a profession by itself and should go to someone who specializes in color correction and also has the right equipment for it.
Personally, I recommend that the video editor should also be at least in one meeting of the pre- production stage. That way he can prevent choices that might make trouble when coming to the editing room, and explain what he needs to create the atmosphere the film director needs.
When you ask experienced video editors, how they know when to cut a shot, they will answer, that they just feel it. There is some truth in that, but here are some tips that will help you to “feel” the right time to cut a shot.
These are very technical and simple tips, that will make your editing a lot better, and will lessen the amount of what is known as “Jump cut” – when 2 shots are not cutting smoothly.
So here we go:
Know your digital video editing software
Become familiar with your video editing software. Know it’s tricks! The goal is not only to know how to cut the shots together but to do it in an easy and fast way and to be able to solve any problem you encounter with the footage you get. Knowledge of the editing software tools will help you do just that.
You can read more about continuity in the article – Continuity editing. but for now, what you need to know is that I’m talking about continuity between the shot and the one after it. For example lets say we connect a shot where the character lit a candle and then on the next shot he is holding the candle when it’s already half melted. This may jump to the eye of the viewer. Now: It may look like something that you can’t fix as an editor. They should have paid more attention in the shooting, right? Well…wrong. As a video editor, you will be expected to fix stuff like that and sometimes there are ways to do that. In our example, if you must connect the whole candle shot with the shot where the candle has been melted, try to push as many shots between them as possible, maybe some extreme close-ups on the faces or the hands so that the-the viewer will forget the size of the original candle. Sometimes it will be the small changes that the viewer will not notice right away, but he will feel something is wrong and won’t know why. take a look at the first clip of this Mistakes In Movies – Pulp Fiction mix uploaded by UnusualVisual.
A great trick in digital video editing to soften the cuts is cut in action, but it should be planned during shooting. Cut in action means to cut a shot in the middle of an action, and to continue the action in a different angle. If a character gets up from the chair, we can shoot him starts to get up from a long shot angle and then continues on another angle maybe a closer one. For this to work the character has to perform the action at any angle in the same manner and the two angles should be at a difference angle of at least 30 degrees in their direction.
The 30 degrees Law
I’ve talked about it in the article Basic camera angles & movements in film, but I’ll repeat it here quick. do not try to connect two different angles If their positions are less than 30 degrees from one another, it will not work. Even if it’s from Close-Up to Longshot. They just look too much alike.
Let The Character in
another nice trick is to start on an empty frame and let the character enter into the frame. Also, if there is a character in the frame that walks out, you should let her out completely until you move to the next shot
Cutting in the middle of camera movement
If for example the camera Tilts UP or turned in a Pan, let her finish the movement and even wait for half a second after she finishes. Do not cut it in the middle of the movement! The same when entering a shot with camera movement. You should start it about half a second before the start of the camera movement.
Finish the action
Let the actor finish the action before cutting to the next shot. Unless you make what is called “cut in action” (we’ll talk about it soon). When we cut in the middle of an operation, we feel that something is wrong with the connection of the shots. That is because usually the actor doesn’t do the action exactly the same way in the two takes taken from the two different shots.
Look at the actor’s eyes
The next tip required some emotion in it. It’s not a law you can follow blinly without feeling it yourself. This is a tip I got from a book called In The Blink Of An Eye, a very recommended book by Walter Murch, an academy award winning film editor. The trick here is simply to look at the actor’s eye to understand when he finished to deliver his emotion. This kinkind of cutting by bits. When you see the actor change his eye direction or maybe even blink, it can be a good time to cut. You’ll be amazed as to how emotions can be expressed by simply blinking.
Now this is the most important rule:
Provide more information
A shot always has to provide more Information. if the next shot will not provide any new information, so why did you cut to it? The video editor should always ask himself, what the audience need to see right now and what will he want to see next?
You’ll have to remember that these rules are for smooth classic video editing. sometimes that is not what the scene needs, but even when you want to to bring a jumpy atmosphere to the scene, You should know these rules so you can break them:
Please watch what we’ve talked about in this fight scene from Raging Bull:
It’s very important to understand that the way you choose to shoot can really affect your audience emotions. For example, the camera is panning through a room and suddenly stops on an object. At that point, the audience understands that there is something important about that object. Panning can also be used on two men talking and by that it will emphasize the contrast between them.
Each time your camera will change angle in the scene, it will change your audience attention, so you must know how to use the camera right.
Why knowing the camera angles and shots is important?
I know I promised that on this blog, I want to focus more on the creative part of filmmaking than the technical part, but knowing the camera angles and shots is very basic and will help us to communicate better on the next articles. The camera angles and shots are the basic language of the film production. Everybody in the production set will communicate using these shots names, so you absolutely must know them. The cameras angles are the best tool to tell a story without explaining too much.
Building relationship with camera angles
The camera angles you’ll choose will be a great tool to describe the relationships of the characters without words. POV shot (I will explain it later on) will tell the audience who is the important character in the scene (that will also be the character that get more screen time), If you’ll shoot one character closer and the other in a more open shot, the one that was shot closer will look and feel to the audience as the stronger one. Read the next shots angels I’m introducing here and you will understand what I’m saying.
so here it goes:
Long Shot(LS )
The shot shows all the body of the photographed object and some of its background. Usually, we use it the beginning of a scene, so the audience will understand where the scene is taking place. Sometimes, when the scene is long, we will use it to remind the audience where the scene is happening. This angle has no emotional strength. It simply gives us information.
A very intimate shot. What we see is only head and shoulders of photographed object. It provides a great sense of intimacy with the photographed object. This shot is used a lot in interviews and TV. In films we use it a lot on reaction shots or when we want to emphasize the drama.It is customary to put the photographed object in this shot just beyond the center of the frame, so the shot will not be too symmetrical. You should also leave some space on the side to which the character speaks or turns to. There is also a shot called Close Up which is little closer.
The advantages of this kind of shot are: They are easy to lighten and it’s also easy to connect them with other shots in the scene. This shot helps convey what the character feels with only very light expressions using mainly the eyes.
The disadvantages of this kind of shot are: Sometimes the shot has nothing to do with the spirit of the scene and can serve as a kind of invasion of subject’s privacy (especially in documentary cinema). The viewer may find himself uncomfortable when it happens.
The shot is very close to the object. For example, in a person shot, we might see only the face of the character or his hands. The feeling that the viewer gets is that what we see at the moment is very important, or with intense emotional weight. For example, a woman walking on the street at night. ECU on her eyes can convey to us a sense that she is scared.
A very popular shot angle. Also called “Waist shot”. Usually, it’s an angle that contains the top of the photographed object. It creates a sense of distance from the person that is being shot, but to such an extent that we can still see him and his body language clearly, with some level of intimacy. When you are using this kind of shot (and you are going to use it a lot), you must pay attention to the background. Also pay attention to the actor’s body posture and movements.
A shot that is being used a lot less today. Its primary use is when you want to connect the character to its location. It’s a hard shot when to edit with. especially because it reveals too much of the background. If for example we have a dialogue scene, we can see the second character in the shot of the other, and that can make it difficult for the continuity of the editing. The biggest advantage of the shot is that it allows the actor to use his body language.
The shot focuses on an object over the shoulder of another person whose face is directed to the same object. We will see the back of the shoulder and part of the head of the person who looks at the object. Directors use this shot a lot in dialogues since it is kind of a “shortcut” to see both characters at the same time.
Ok, so I understand this post is getting too long, but please bear with me and trust me, if you don’t know the jargon of the film industry, you will be in a lot of troubles. So just a few more to go and we’re done:
Point of view (POV)
The POV shot is a great film technique to make the viewer identify with your character. This is also a great way to create tense. In the POV shot, the camera transmits the point of view of an object in the scene. It basically takes the place of character that looks at something. If we are filming two people talking and we want to pass the point of view of one over the other, the camera will be in front of the photographed object in the place of the one we want to emulate his eyes. Usually, the photographed object will not look directly into the camera, but 30 degrees to the side. If the object looks directly into the camera, it’s like he is looking directly at the audience and thus breaks the magic of cinema. Of course, there are quite a few films that do this on purpose, but this should be a conscious decision.
On this shot the camera is positioned in a low angle, making the shot object look very big.