Post-Production : Editing for a production company? by Tiffany Heller Wambach

Tiffany Heller Wambach

Editing for a production company?

So I am a self-taught editor on Premier. I really enjoy editing and think I have a good sensibility for it. BUT, like any software, there are tons of features in Premiere that I have no idea what they are even for. However, after talking to some other people who consider themselves "whizzes" they don't know any more than I do. So, I am wondering, what should a paid editor really know how to do? Are there classes or tutorials that might help me get there? Thanks!

Javier Luis González Rodríguez

Well, I think a good editor has to use the brain at first. Softwares are always changing, and there is always something new to learn, but you must try to known everything about the tool you use. As editor you are as craftsman: 50% artist 50% technician. When you're in a editing room, the client doesn't want to spend the time watching you wondering how to do what he wants. And practice everyday it's the only way to rules a soft. Sorry for my poor english. Javi Ge.

Georgia Hilton

between $25 and $50 / hour based on experience for a new editor without a lot of experience

Tiffany Heller Wambach

Thanks, all. So more specifically, I am wondering, is the editor supposed to be a whiz at color correction, sound equalization and after effects, or are those specialty areas?

Simon © Simon

Editing is an ever evolving aspect. I believe that being an editor also entails knowing what codec you are bringing in, what is going to be exported and what will the file need? IGE: Is the file headed over to 3d software or just After Effects. Is it straight thru edit to a Bluray export? That falls into Javi's line of thinking. It's important to stay up on the latest codecs as they come out. H.265 or Sony's XAVC-S. Will you need a converter or will your NLE handle it. Then there is the keeping up with how to make a transition, which starts to fall into an effects or CGI person. However it is expected to a point. I spend 6-7 hours a day every day except for Sundays I only do about 3 hours learning or practicing how to make something happen. So for this year alone I have logged 1500 hours doing 3D alone. I have 5 notebooks full of reference steps to pull off a CGI or edit trick. I cannot remember all steps and need a cheat sheet sometimes. That is when it starts to delve into forgetting more then some know... You know when you know your software, when you know it's limitations and then you will then learn other software to compliment the software you are working with. Then there is the realization that you will never know it all and there is always someone better then you, as well as knowing when to stop editing and call it done. ~ AND YES you should know sound mix too. Actors say without them there is no movie, editors say they weave the movie together and remove the actors imperfections and bloopers. The director says it cannot be done without direction....It is a culmination; as is your software. You are in PP, you ask about classes. Check out Classondemand where you can buy just the PP module cheap. The intructors are good as are the classes. I spent a year every day where I learned CS6 101,201,301 AE, P.S AI, and Media Encoder. Where I use all in one movie all the time. Because I know how. I use AI for vector art, P.S for blend modes, After Effects for effects and titles. Now I am in Blender for 3d like Cin 4d but free

Brian Steinmetz

Adobe offers certification courses, just like Apple. Might be worth the money to slap the certification seal on your resume. Just a thought.

Royce Allen Dudley

The professional editors I know who do well are hired for their story telling, project building abilities, not for technical knowledge... editing is not a technician job it's a creative job performed within a technical framework, as is cinematography and less so screenwriting- but that said, they all know their way around all platforms ( AVID, Premiere and less so now FCP ). They have a sense of grading and sound but neither of those would be their job at a production company unless it was very small market / low end. They may very well however need motion graphics abilities- and the ability to communicate with people who are doing MoGraph and sound and color- because they all have to deal with the editor's work, an editor doesn't work ina vacuum. Rates are another story - L.A. has the widest range, with many very skilled editors making as little as $200 a day, though I have 2 friends who break $200K annually, one in infomercials and one in reality. Lastly, self taught can get you in trouble. Big time. If you have to deal with other editors and / or delivery for distribution or broadcast and archiving, not having formal training in clerical protocols and technical minutiae is cautionary. But again it depends on market and who you are dealing with and what is expected... people who cut weddings or local commercials and web videos can probably wing it forever.

Shaun O'Banion

Tiffany - You don't need to be a whiz at color or sound, but a basic knowledge is helpful. You'll get there eventually. Just work at the technical and bring your point of view to the suite.

Simon © Simon

I disagree with self taught or a cert. 1. Self taught shows you have the 'know how' to dig up resources to make it happen. Where you also have access to more then one point of view, tips and tricks. Is it better to have 5 teachers or 1 ? 1 teacher brings 20 years to the table of teaching. Where usually the teacher stops learning once they have the creds. 5 teachers can bring 100 years of teaching and if you find younger teachers they will be the ones who are showing cutting edge stuff. Instead of hanging on to their laurels IE: " I worked on Jaws 1" I would rather have R Rodriguez and the likes then one old professor at a film school,.. who has done nothing. Like those who give major critics but have nothing posted of their own... Adobe certs (Not to be confused with A.C.E) are expensive and are re upped every year. It may be a requirement by someone who went and got one themselves and are the gatekeeper. However it is going to boil down to your reel, and sadly if you have a piece of paper called a degree. Plenty of PHD's sleeping on park benches... But if your reel sizzles (which takes access to good original footage) you are that much closer. FWIW. You may not know all the tools in PP at the moment, but if your reel shows the work, no one is going to ask if you know line 21 if you are doing movies instead of broadcast TV. You may be asked what scene would you need to weave your story better in editing... JJ Abrams' 2 Editors send him back out on set all the time for a re-shoot here and there. This is slipping off point. There are some good discussions and heavy hitters over at Creative COW forum, subb over there and you will get great interviews from those working on the latest stuff.

Simon © Simon

I would not go as far as monkeys, however it is a 'group thinking'. That sometimes is like a runaway train....There are some gatekeepers that put a high regard to certs and paper degrees. For good reason. Not that Statistics is needed in editing. I think being self taught makes one discover other things along the journey. Like taking the freeway opposed to the surface streets. Frwy is direct and faster where surface is a little longer; but usually affords the best places to eat. Personally, I did a combo, I am self taught finding classes online (as mentioned above) that were structured for UI and such. Then it was / is digging for videos and tuts by some real talented people. IGE: Kramer from Video Co-Pilot. Would be the 'dug up' tuts. Where he will show how to make demon faces in post without having to have makeup do it on set.

Georgia Hilton

Editors, need a solid understanding of what happens before and after their part of a project. From Ingest/ log and capture, LUTS, camera and lighting issues, Color Correction, audio sync and on to conforms, on-line, color correct, sound editorial, sound design, music and dialogue editing, broadcast and film delivery specs and more. Most middle of the road editors, don't have this knowledge base. I would say that most editors can edit (as one would hope) but begin to fall short in these other areas. To get ahead and be that GO-TO editor you need to not only understand all these areas, you need to be, at least, moderately good at them. Which means a lot of research, and learning with either book, video, classroom or internships. Today, more than ever, a good editor has to be good enough to handle the basics for all these areas in order to take on a project and assure delivery, especially low budget gigs, where there is less time, less money and certainly less staff.

Lonie Nichols

Tiffany, I get what your dilemma is. I've been using Premiere for years and years and yet I probably use no more than a quarter of its bells and whistles. And as someone who writes, directs, shoots and even acts on occasion in my own stuff, I think my best work is done in editing. That is, I can take a bad camera angle or framing and make it work, especially if I have multiple shots from the same scene to work with. So yes, it is important to know what mundane stuff the software is capable of, but in the end it is more important IMO that you have that creative bent that allows you to raise the quality of a shoot with your edit. THAT's what will get you a reputation that leads to paying clients.

Tiffany Heller Wambach

Thanks, all. This has been very informative. I really appreciate everyone sharing so much detail. : )

Ashley Tyler

I am also a self-taught editor. I use Sony Vegas Pro. I have been using it for five years now, I still have no idea what half the icons are for. In my opinion, In my opinion, you will probably not have to use half the icons for the simple editing of shots and scenes. However, do not waste your money on learning about it at some class, when there is You-tube just round the corner. I know it might sound a little strange to use You-tube if you call your self a professional editor, but it can take you through the basics like trimming a clip, or the more complicated things like layering multiple clips on one another. I have a lecturer at University, he specializes in editing, he still has no idea about half the icons that are on his program. My advise, do not waste your hard earned money on learning something you could learn for free. Nowadays, You-tube can teach you anything. (Just got get distracted by the cute animal movies)

Jon Miles

Georgia Hilton

a whiz? no... but you need to understand color and be able to do basic color matching, and assure your outputs meet various delivery requirements.

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