“What makes a movie a movie, is the editing.” — Zach Staenberg, Editor of the Matrix trilogy
Video and film editing is becoming an increasingly sought out profession, today. With the pandemic reiterating the importance of on-screen entertainment, it is without a doubt that the industry forms an integral part of our daily lives. From motion pictures, television shows, news broadcasts, documentaries, sporting events to music videos, vlogs and influencer content on social media, video editing takes on many forms.
While it is noted that the editing of a video can make or break it, it is also bound to go unnoticed by a layman. With hours of work going behind every small project and the very slight credit that it brings with itself, it has rightfully earned its nickname—‘the silent art’.
Evolution of Film and Video Editing
The era of film-making was kickstarted with the invention of the Cinematographie by the earliest filmmakers in history, the Lumiere brothers of France (1895). Auguste and Louis Lumiere’s invention was a step forward from the Kinetograph, by Thomas Edison and William Dickson (1890) and produced clearer and stronger images.
The initial stages of editing- ‘cutting and sticking’, consisted of physically cutting still images and inserting them into the Kinetograph. Animated cartoons were made by compiling several hundreds of individual drawings and projecting them on a screen. The first cartoon film to be created was ‘Fantasmagorie’, a French cartoon made with seven hundred images by Emile Cohl.
With the development of cameras, lighting and sound technologies, professionals across the world began incorporating different techniques into their work. Analogue editing, a technique that involves cutting and organizing film negatives, took over the world before finally paving the way to digital editing.
With the onset of computers, video editing has become a much simpler affair. Video clips are shot, imported into a software, cut and reorganized to form a film. Special graphics or CGI effects are added to enhance the film experience.
Qualifications and Skills required
Editors are creative, hardworking individuals with an aptitude for cinematography. They are highly motivated and usually work long hours to produce the simplest of video clips. Editors have an eye for detail and are efficient communicators who can work well in a team of specialists from different areas like production, sound, lighting and direction. Video editors are well versed with software like Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, Blender, Final Cut Pro and Cyberlink PowerDirector.
To become a professional video and film editor, one requires a bachelor’s degree in Film and Media, Cinematography or Communications. The degree program accustoms one to the process of editing from the initial stages up to post-production while also allowing one to explore the various facets of the art of filmmaking.
Top universities offering courses in the area include:
- American Film Institute, USA (AFI)
- Academy of Performing Arts’ Film and TV School, Czech Republic (FAMU)
- La Fémis, France
- Beijing Film Academy, China
- London Film School, UK
- National Film and Television School, UK (NFTS)
- CalArts School of Film and Video, USA
- Los Angeles Film School, USA
While most companies and film giants usually employ degree-holding professionals with at least a few years of experience, newer organizations have been known to rope in ambitious, talented individuals who do not hold a college degree in the field.
What Does The Job Entail for a film & video editor?
Film and video editors are responsible for creating and refining the final version of the motion picture. Editors will acquire and select the best video clips after examining the differences in aspects like light, composition, quality and acting. After a cohesive study of the storyline, characters and the director’s vision of the plot, the editor will put together the most appropriate version of the reels with sound effects, voices, music and special effects. One is required to work in collaboration with other professionals like directors, sound and light technicians, actors, costume designers, makeup artists, set designers and producers. A major portion of the work is done behind a computer screen, working with multiple software.
Scope and Prospects in the film & video editing Industry
With the rise of OTT platforms and influencer-based social media content, there is bound to be an increasing demand for talented video and film editors. Statistics predict that the overall employment for video editors is projected to grow twenty-two percent from 2019 to 2029, a steep rise compared to other professions.
The top countries to pursue film and video editing as a career are:
- USA: Average base salary $59,280 (USD)/year
- Canada: Average base salary $61,432 (CAD)/year
- Australia: Average base salary $66,020 (AUD)/year
- UK: Average base salary £32,193 (GBP)/year
- UAE: Average base salary 124,064 د.إ. (AED)/year
Online Courses to learn film & video editing
Diving head-first into a professional degree program can be a daunting experience. Familiarizing yourself with the working of the industry beforehand can be an easier alternative.
Here are some online courses that can expand your knowledge in the field!
- Mastering Final Cut Pro, offered by Learnquest (Coursera)
- The Complete Video Production Bootcamp, offered by Phil Ebiner, William Carnahan, Sam Shimizu-Jones and Video School (Udemy)
- Premiere Pro CC for Beginners: Video Editing in Premiere, offered by Phil Ebiner and Video School (Udemy)
With a whole lot of creativity, an eye for detail and ingenuity, film and video editing is a promising career with bountiful opportunities to explore and grow.
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Coursera. Mastering Final Cut Pro. [online]. Available at: https://www.coursera.org/learn/mastering-final-cut-pro [Accessed 12 August 2021].
Udemy. The Complete Video Production Bootcamp. [online]. Available at: https://www.udemy.com/course/video-production-bootcamp/?ranMID=39197&ranEAID=bt30QTxEyjA&ranSiteID=bt30QTxEyjA-508an_dKQoaxnBNpoP156g&LSNPUBID=bt30QTxEyjA&utm_source=aff-campaign&utm_medium=udemyads [Accessed 12 August 2021].
Udemy. Premiere Pro CC for Beginners: Video Editing in Premiere. [online]. Available at: https://www.udemy.com/course/video-production-bootcamp/?ranMID=39197&ranEAID=bt30QTxEyjA&ranSiteID=bt30QTxEyjA-508an_dKQoaxnBNpoP156g&LSNPUBID=bt30QTxEyjA&utm_source=aff-campaign&utm_medium=udemyads [Accessed 12 August 2021].