Digital video editing’s stages

The Stages of Video Editing

Digital video editing's stages
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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

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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.


Rough Cut

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.

Fine Cut

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.

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