Once the shoot has been "wrapped" and the kit has been packed away that's usually the last a client will see of the production of their film. From then on out it's down to me, sat at my desk, headphones on typing and clicking away turning RAW footage into something you can't wait to share. But what does actually happen during the edit?
Backup, Backup, Backup, Backup
The most anxiety-inducing part of any production is realising that a whole day's worth of content is in the palm of your hands on a small piece of plastic and metal. The worry about having to call up a client and break the news that all the incredible content you captured, that once in a lifetime shot, the interview they nailed... has corrupted and been lost forever. So the first step in the editing process is backing up and then backing up again just for good measure!
Import and Prepare
Once I'm confident that life would really have to be out to get me if all the backups corrupted, it's time to import the footage, which basically means transferring it into the editing program, it will then do a bunch of fancy stuff in the background so that it can read it whilst I'm preparing the project. Preparing the project involves creating folders within folders within folders. One for audio, one for footage and sequences, exports, and assets. All of this just in case another editor needs to take over so they know exactly where everything is!
Cutting The Interview
We then get down to some actual editing! Depending on how much footage we've captured the process up to this point may have taken all morning. But now at least we know everything is organised and protected. Cutting down the interview is possibly the most long-winded stage of the process, which basically involves cutting out all those pesky "err"s, "um"s, and those nice chats we had between answers! This leaves us with just the good content, the stuff we want in your film.
Music and Structure
Once we have the interview content cut down we can then go and source the perfect music track that both carries the story and perfectly represents your brand. (This can either take for-ever or you strike lucky first time!). With music sourced, we can then use this to help structure your film. Using the rises and dips to pace out your content and build atmosphere, emotion, and anticipation. This is of course not the same for every edit, sometimes the music plays a smaller role or changes multiple times during the film's duration. Of course, some films have no interview content, in which case the track will carry the full weights of conveying a feeling and a tone for your video.
B-Roll sounds like a technical term but it's really any footage that isn't your interview content. (It comes from the days of actual rolls of film, where the editor would psychically cut between the A-Roll and B-Roll!) This for me is the most satisfying and "arty" stage of creating a film. This is where I get to pick out the best shots of products or moody walking, hands shaking or tears rolling down cheeks. This is where your film becomes your film and not just a nice interview.
Adding B-Roll is my favourite part of an edit, but grading the footage is a very close second. I shoot all my projects flat (very grey!) which means when we get to this stage I have much more control of how your film looks. For instance, if you're speaking to camera about a very sad, emotional topic then the film should reflect this, I bring in the blues and the feel is much darker and the opposite would be the same for a happier, more energetic film. It's another tool in my belt for invoking emotion and giving your film the best chance of engaging with your audience.
Ok, so a bit of a copout right at the end but once you've completed all the previous steps you actually do have a film! A good, well-paced, technically complete film. It's from here that I make it the best film it can be by adding everything else. From small touches of sound design (wind in the trees, footsteps on the tarmac, etc) to a little lens flare or replacing that ugly patch of mud in the field with some grass. These little touches are designed not to be noticed but can change the look and feel of a film incredibly.
So that.... I think is editing. But it does change hugely from project to project. This is a process and an art form I've been learning and building for a number of years and each year something new is added to the pipeline. So for now I hope this have given you a sense of what goes on once we've wrapped on set!
Have a project in mind that could use all this editing power!? Get in contact and let's make content your can't wait to share.