Brushing Up on Editing

Tl;dr - I've always considered myself to be a mediocre editor, at best. Now, I'm on a mission to fix that.
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Table of Contents

A Functional Editor

During the past 15 years of working in the industry in various capacities, I always found myself avoiding editing.

That is, unless I was editing something of my own…

The thought of receiving a hard drive full of someone’s footage that I’ve never seen before has always seemed exceedingly daunting. Scrubbing through hours and hours of footage, logging, organizing, and doing all the real work that goes into editing was not in the cards for me.

I was (and currently am), at best, a functional editor.

I could get the job done and most of the time, people were okay with the results.

Not me.

I know the intense skill that goes into crafting beautiful edits and I’ve seen great editing. So I know that my work to this point is a D-.

Time for a Change

Now, with more experience under my belt in the industry as a whole, and a deeper understanding of the various elements of post-production, I’m deciding to face my fears and tackle editing from square one.

Instead of letting my ego get in the way, as it often does, I’m coming at this endeavor as if I know nothing about editing at all.

The first thing I did was start with an Adobe Premiere Pro Quickstart course by Film Editing Pro.

This course covered all the basics – how to set up a project, customize the work area, use hotkeys, and do a basic edit for a promo video.

You can see my cut of the promo video below:

Play Video

Even though I’ve been editing in Premiere Pro for years now, I still learned a good amount from this course. (More than I was even anticipating)

So far so good. Step one, completed. Now what?

Moving into Narrative

The first course was a primer, to get myself used to the basic stuff that Adobe Premiere has to offer. 

The second course – Secrets of Creative Editing – took those basics to the next level by applying them in a more intensive, narrative project.

The first part of the course is primarily theory, and watching the presenters demonstrate how they achieve certain effects. It’s not until the end when you dive into a real edit.

The project I cut together was a short scene from a short film called “We Have To Go” and during the edit I was able to employ many things that were discussed and utilized in the first course, but in much more depth.

I also got to try my hand at some sound design with foley, and sweeting the shots with color grading and some creative lens effects.

For the grade, I utilized one of my favorite applications – FilmConvert.

For the lens effects, I utilized Lens Distortion’s unique offerings of flares.

You can see the final product below:

Play Video

What's Next?

My road map for post-production mastery is long, but for the time being I am sticking with editing. The next project I’m going to complete is a short action film.

From there I will move onto learning about editing music and scoring films.

Then, I’m venturing into the exciting world of trailer editing.

After that, I have a long list of places I want to go, including sound mixing and mastering, color grading, and VFX.

But Why?

If you finished reading this, hey, thanks! I appreciate you.

But you may be asking yourself, “why is he doing this at his ripe old age of 33?”

The truth is, I am addicted to learning.

I want to know everything, and I want to try anything that has to do with filmmaking.

I love it. It’s fun!

And ultimately, I aim to use these skills to elevate my own projects to new heights. I don’t have the funds to just throw money at all of my problems on set, so I want to know how to fix them myself.

No, I don’t want to do EVERYTHING on a set. But I think it’s important to at least have a general idea of how things are done, so you can be the best filmmaker you can be. After all, it’s all connected.

Being a good editor will make me a stronger writer, a better director, and help me improve my cinematography.

The art of filmmaking is the combination of many art forms. I intend to be the best filmmaker I can be.

What are you doing to become a better filmmaker? Let me know in the comments below.

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Alex Darke
Alex Darke
Alex is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker located in Los Angeles, who has spent the past 7 years working with the legendary broadcaster Larry King and shooting thousands of episodes of television as a camera operator and director of photography. He owns the motion picture production company Gilded Cinema and co-hosts the No-Budget Filmmaking Podcast.
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  • I just hit the same exact point in my career as well, I just shot two short films and like you, have been happy with my final product but there is that really big nagging voice in the back of your brain saying “I bet really good editors would do this in 1/3 of the time.” Time to take the time for a better foundation! Good post.

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