Editing for the advanced

Scroll to content


In this unit we’re going to extend some of your editing skills, and focus on some different ways to condense time using different editing techniques. It's helpful if you've already gone through the lesson on editing for the beginner.

The task

To edit a fine cut of a short scene that features a range of editing techniques, and is complete with music and sound effects.

What you'll need

  • Editing software, try and familiarise yourself with the software before starting this task
  • A script. It can be hard to put a scene together without one. Use the one provided.
  • Footage to edit. You can download the zipped folder at the bottom of the page. If you've completed editing for the beginner you should already have package 1, so download The Deal footage package 2. If you don't have The Deal footage package 1 you'll need to download that also. The downloadable packages are quite large, so allow time to download or see if the folders can be shared with your class some other way.


Step 1: Make sure you save the video files needed into a project folder and then set about making a rough cut. Read through the editing for the beginner page again if you're unsure about what a rough cut is. Remember with a rough cut, you are simply getting the clips in the order you want. Seeing as though you have a variety of shots to choose from, think carefully about which shots you think work best each moment, action, and line of dialogue

Step 2: Creating a fine cut.

When you create your fine cut, as well as trimming out all the parts of the clips you don't need, try to create flow from each shot to the next. When you trim one clip, depending on whether you're trimming the start or end of that clip, you should see either the last frame from the previous clip or the first frame from the next in your preview window as well. This is a great way of matching up your clips and making sure they flow. 

You can also split clips in your timeline and insert another clip somewhere within the clip. Depending on what software you’re using, this tool is called the blade or split tool. This is great if you want to keep using a shot or clip even after showing the audience something else. This approach can be used to get someone’s reaction to something another character is saying, before coming back to a main point of action.

Before you complete your fine cut, read the section below on quick cuts and jumps so you can experiment with pace and timing with your edit.

Condensing time: quick cuts and jump cuts

One of the simple yet magic things about editing is you can condense time through different editing techniques. We can take a scene or an action that might take a little while, and speed it up by shortening the clips in our scene.

When it’s done really fast we call it quick cutting, but condensing time in a film doesn’t always appear to be quick, it can just be less slow. Either way, you’re condensing your clips to leave just the parts of action you do want.

For example in the footage you have for The Deal, there are several shots where the character of Sarah puts her briefcase on the table, opens it, pulls out a pen and pad, writes in the pad, puts the pen away, puts the pad on the table, and pushes it towards Claire. All together in real time, Sarah’s actions in this part take around 35 seconds!

We can condense the time it takes for her to do this by using the different camera shots we have of this action, and cutting them quite short so we just see the main actions.

Jump cuts are used with footage in which the camera shot holds for a long time and a character moves around in that space. It can help show a passing of time, like a character waiting for someone and getting very bored. Instead of showing them waiting for ten minutes we could use jump cuts and show them in different positions looking restless. We still get the idea they’ve been waiting for a long time, and are tired of waiting, without having to show them waiting the entire time. Jump cuts are also used to make people disappear or reappear (or teleport) within a shot.

Watch this video about jump cuts on Vimeo to see the technique in action.

Step 3: Condensing time

Try making the middle section of the scene (Sarah producing her briefcase, writing something down, passing it to Claire) go a little quicker. You can do this by quick cutting, or jump cuts. If you're quick cutting, we suggest using a variety of shots available to you so you can cut around the actions you don't want. If you're jump cutting; try picking one or maybe two shots and cut out all the unnecessary movements around the main movements. This way Sarah will appear to jump between movements.

Remember to be careful when condensing time too much; sometimes letting a shot hold for longer can help create suspense or build anticipation.

Using music

Music can add so much to a film, it can bring energy, create suspense, all kinds of things. Ultimately though, music adds to the feel and tone of the film and help elicit certain emotions out of your audience.

Along with your video files, you’ll find an audio track in the folder you downloaded. Make sure this is in your library for use. Bring the music into your timeline and place it where you’d like it to start.

Like your video clips, you can trim the music file once in your timeline. You can also fade the music in or out and adjust the volume of your music so it’s loud and obvious in some parts, and quieter in others. Think about the feeling you want to create, and how music and its volume can help create that feeling.

Step 4: Bring the piece of music into your library then place it into your timeline underneath your footage. Position the music where you’d like it, time if needed, and adjust the volume of the music so it doesn't drown out any dialogue.

Find out other ways you can manipulate audio files like music in your editing software, for example, see if you can fade in or fade out the music so it doesn’t start or end abruptly.


How did you go? Which time condensing technique did you prefer? Did you prefer the scene when it was sped up, or did it take some suspense out of the scene?

Congratulations on completing editing for the advanced. Keen to try out some more editing techniques? Follow the editing - extension link below. 

3.3 Editing extension

More info

Back to Editing

Back to Film It main page