Editing for the beginner

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Let’s start with the basic tools you’ll encounter when editing, and the layout of editing software.

Once you’ve filmed all your footage, you can import all your movie files into your editing software’s library. 

Although the layout and tools available might change between editing software, the basic layout and tools remain the same. The library is usually in the top left corner, your preview window top middle, and your film's timeline at the bottom.

The task

To edit together a scene from the footage provided, or from a project you are working on that you already have footage for.

What you’ll need


Step 1: Once you have downloaded the folder of footage, save or move the video files into a project folder so they're all in the same place. Afterwards, import the video clips into your project library.

Cutting a rough cut

The word ‘cut’ can be confusing as it’s used in film in a variety of ways. A director might call ‘cut’ on set when they want the camera to stop filming and actors to stop acting. When it comes to editing we refer to every change between shots as a cut, and then we also use the term cut when referring to what stage a project is at.

So a rough cut is where you have put the video files into the order you’d like them, but you haven’t completed the scene or movie. When the editing process is over, and it's time to start on sound design, we call it a fine cut.

To create a rough cut you’ll need a the script for the project you're working on. We’ve provided a script for the  footage we’ve provided to help you edit the scene together. You can also watch the video below to see how it's done.

Step 2: Using a script, edit together a rough cut of The Deal. You'll notice you have several different shots that each cover the whole scene, so it's up to you how you edit the scene together using these shots.

Don’t worry at this stage about getting it perfect, just get them in the order you think works.

The script will help you put the scene together, but it won't tell you which shot to use for each action or line of dialogue. That part is up to you. But you should think carefully about what is happening in each moment, and which shot you think works best. Have a look at the page on shot types if you need a refresher on camera shots and their use.

As you bring a clip from the library into your timeline, you should be able to select in and out points, meaning, the section of the clip that you want to use. You don't have to bring the whole clip into your timeline if the clip is quite long.

Now, go to the start of your project and play it back. Make sure you’re happy with the order of the clips. When you're happy, move onto your fine cut.

Step 3: Now time to create a fine cut.

A fine cut is where you get your project to the point you’re happy with how all the footage has been cut together. This means you’ll need to get rid of all the unnecessary parts of your clips, for instance, there are lots of moments where the actors stop acting, the director yells out ‘action’ and ‘cut’, and also where you can see the clapper loader.

You can use your software’s trim tool to get rid of the parts of the clips you don’t want. Trimming is where you drag the start or the end of a clip backwards or forwards to hide the parts of the clip you don’t need.

When you make a fine cut, this is where you make decisions as an editor what you think works best. You might like some shots to hold for longer, and others to be shorter. Ultimately you want your scene to move smoothly from one shot to the next.

Keep going and make adjustments until you feel the scene is working.

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.

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. You can trim audio files like you do your video files so it ends or starts where you'd like it to.

Find out how you can bring down the volume of the music so it doesn’t drown out other the dialogue in the scene.

Congratulations, you've edited together a scene! You can move onto editing for the advanced if you'd like to learn more.

3.2 Editing for the advanced

More info

Back to Editing

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