Simple Editing Tips That Will Help You Edit Like a Pro
Editing is a complicated art form, but these tips should help you strengthen your skills.
What do you struggle with most as an editor? Do you have a hard time finding the right place to cut? Do you spend way too much time on a project? Can you not seem to create good pacing and rhythm in your edits? If you said yes to any of these (or if you just want to learn something new), editor Sven Pape of This Guy Edits shares seven really helpful tips that could get your out of your editorial funk and back on the right path. Check it out below:
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Here’s a quick rundown of all of the tips Pape mentioned in the video:
- Don’t cut, build: There is no right or wrong way to edit a film, but if you’re unhappy with your own process, you might want to consider the philosophy of “building” your edit rather than “trimming” it down. This method saves time and precious energy because you’re not spending it cutting away entire shots from your fat timeline. Instead, you’re spending that energy building your timeline with your best shots, which you can go in and fine tune later.
- Audio/Visual Scissors: Make sure your visuals match your audio. What does that mean? Well, like Pape says, if you’re talking about a flamingo, show a flamingo. If you’re cutting a scene in which a detective is interrogating a suspect, don’t cut to an insert of the detective stirring coffee if they’re talking about the murder weapon; cut to the murder weapon.
- Cut like you party: Basically, come late, leave early. You’ll want to cut your clips a little thinner than you might think at first, essentially coming in several frames late and cutting several frames early. This will help create tension and keep your audience from becoming bored.
- Look here: Cut like you’re saying, “Hey! Look here! This is important!”
- Use misdirection: On the other hand, you can leave it up to your audience to ascertain what’s going on in the scene by cutting to a wide shot during highly emotional exposition or a reverse shot that obscures a character’s face and emotions.
- Watch the eyes: A character’s eyes can tell a lot about what’s going on in a scene, which means that they will inform a lot of your editing decisions. Pay close attention to when a character blinks, too. Oscar-winning editor Walter Murch says that he cuts a frame before a blink because it’s a natural cutting point that works on a subconscious level.
- Trust your gut: In the end, you’ve got to trust your gut. Granted, your gut will be more capable of making split editorial decisions the more experience you have, but if you’re attuned to the natural rhythm and flow of your project, you’ll almost have a sixth sense of when and where to cut. (Pro tip: Murch uses an exercise to strengthen his gut for editing. He turns all audio off, plays a shot, and then pauses it where he feels it should be cut. He repeats the process until he begins to stop on the same frame every time. That is where he cuts.)
Do you have your own editing tips you’d like to share? Head down to the comments!