5 Things a Good Video Editor Knows

November 12, 2019

Thinking about becoming a video editor? Does a demanding schedule of creative work excite you? How do you know if you have what it takes to be a good one? What does it take to be in #PostProduction life? 

Let’s get into 5 things a good video editor knows.

  1. How to detach & reattach personal emotions toward an edit

As a creative, it’s easy to become emotionally invested in your work, and that usually makes it better. Passionate, dedicated people produce great work, no matter the profession. When you put your creative energy into an edit, you begin to care about the feel of each transition, the music selection, the rise and fall of a visual narrative arc. You’ve chosen shots that resonate with you, that you believe will resonate with the client.  Before you know it, it’s time to send a draft to your client…

…And, they don’t feel the same way. For whatever reason, they’re unenthused with your creative choices. They would prefer a different feel. And, emotionally invested as you are, that can easily feel like a personal attack or at least a professional defeat. 

But, you are a professional. And, ultimately your video is not meant to fulfill your creative needs, but those of your client. Knowing how and when to direct your personal emotions and creative energy can make or break an edit. You have to be emotionally disciplined. 

Nick from New Girl says, "I'm on a real rollercoaster of emotions right now."

2. When to take *smart* risks & when to play it safe 

When we hear “risk-taker,” we usually think of sky-divers or finance guys who throw millions of dollars at a start-up.  But, good editors need this skill as well. Because let’s face it, sometimes clients don’t really know what they want. Or what they imagined the final product to look like just isn’t cutting it. 

And, that is totally understandable. Creativity is a process, and sometimes we need a little trial and error {within reason, of course} to fully understand the best way to frame a message. 

Good editors know how and when to anticipate this unique need. And, they also know when to defer to explicit client direction. One part daredevil, two parts customer service. 

Captain Kirk says, "It's a risk I'll have to take."

3. How to blend feedback & video needs with your artistic direction

If you’re a good editor, you didn’t become one by always following the rules or doing exactly what you were told. You took some creative risks. You put your own spin on things. But, you also listened to your clients and took advice from the experts. 

Like anything else, it’s a balance of accepting criticism, taking suggestions with a grain of salt, and making sure that your edit supports the goal of the video. 

You have to remember that the client hired you for a reason. You are the subject matter expert. That doesn’t mean you’re infallible, but it does mean your opinion and artistic direction is quite valuable. So, don’t underestimate yourself.

May I offer you some feedback, ready for some feedback

4. How to recognize what isn’t working & take the initiative to change it

On certain projects, we put hours into a particularly sticky transition. We’re trying to make a square fit into a circle.  Deep down, we know it’s not working. But, we’ve already put in so much time, and we don’t want to waste that. 

Reality check: you have to know when to cut your losses.  Sometimes it simply isn’t working. Having the courage and capacity to backtrack or even scrap and start again will ultimately save time in many situations. 

Having the courage to admit your idea wasn’t working also helps you mature as a professional. Shocker, sometimes you are wrong! Taking the initiative to start anew with something fresh and energetic shows your client that you aren’t afraid of the process, and you’re committed to working hard for the sake of their video. 

Some say a waste of time, others say an incredible waste of time

5. How to be calm under pressure 

There’s countless articles across the internet detailing “how to” do this sometimes impossible thing. It’s knowing how to multitask and prioritize and manage your time (and not be a total grinch about it), which is also easier said than done. 

When you’re faced with seemingly insurmountable deadlines, you have to keep a cool demeanor and approach your work in a way that generates the same caliber of work as when you don’t have 5 deadlines due next Tuesday.

Remaining calm under pressure also means knowing how to cater to your mental and physical well-being while doing your job well. If listening to music mellows you out, then play your favorite album. If you need a cup of hot tea to smooth out your nerves, then stock up on chamomile. 

I've got a lot of things on my mind


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