Post-Production : Looking for advice. by Elisha Escalante

Looking for advice.

I have 0 qualifications with editing but I really want to get into the business. I am currently looking into Postgrad courses but I would like to know if any of you guys actually needed a degree to pursue a job in editing? I am an amateur, I make them from a crappy laptop that crashes every 10 minutes, but I am saving for a computer right now to raise the quality of my videos. I have only had the chance to make fanvideos, one of them was actually played on Entertainment Tonight WORLD WIDE. But that does not mean I am good enough for a job prospect which is why I am asking for your advice :) Here is a recent one I did:

Tiffy Diamond

Hi Elisha! Great work! Taking courses is a good idea to introduce you to the world of editing. However, there are some wonderful online tutorials and videos you can watch to get started. You'll know more about if you want to get into editing if you work with a small production and really see how the process is. Maybe film something yourself or shadow some student filmmakers in the area. Editing is very time consuming but very rewarding. Just jump in!

Heath Vinyard

Great work on this. You have an eye for how things come together, and that's the most important part. My advice, definitely solve the computer issues and get some good software that's industry respected. For me, I love Adobe, but there are many other out there. With that, volunteer for some student or short film projects and work on those. Keep going until you have a solid reel and graduate up to paid work, either by project or working for a post prod house. You have the talent for sure. Now just need the experience.

Bianca Filoteo

Hi Elisha! I'm actor, but I actually taught myself how to edit using Final Cut Pro when a few of my actor friends and I created a web series - it was a total DIY project/experiment and we learned a lot from it. I actually ended up getting some freelance editing gigs (corporate videos) from that experience because I had something to show and found people who liked my style. Once you solve your computer issues, check out sites like or other sites that have tutorials on how to use Final Cut (or Adobe Premiere, or your editor of choice) and start applying what you learn. Maybe create videos on your own or do a few pro bono so you have a portfolio to show to get paid work. Hope that helps :)

Kathi Carey

My husband is one of the top demo reel editors in LA. He is completely self-taught. And I think he's one of the best editors, period, because he's had to take what other editors have put together and completely deconstruct it, using only the pieces that are available, and create scenes that feature the actor he's working with. He has done this hundreds of thousands of times over the years, so he's really, really good. And, btw, he doesn't just do reels. He does films and pilots and series as well (and has even won awards). So yes, you can totally teach yourself. But I think it takes an eye and a feel for rhythm (do you have music background?) and then you need to watch what other editors have done -- good ones and not-so-good ones -- to learn how to BE good. What to do and what NOT to do.

Mark ONeill

My favorite editor is ALSO self-taught. I think he has a degree in English Literature from Columbia. Look for his film on Ivy League football called The League.

Michael Olson

Mostly self taught. What I see in this video is the best requirement: feel the project. You know how to edit. And you feel it. Get appropriate software and a better computer. Mind you, I did a montage once of 130 shots in 30 seconds. VHS to VHS. Final Cut on an iMac helped me cut a 6 minute music video with 800 shots. Oh, and get noticed.

Lina Jones

Your editing looks nice keep up the good work.

Pamela McCarthy

Nice job!!

Tracee Beebe

I would say use your money to buy a Mac & FCP instead of getting a degree. And keep practicing! What you have here is really good, so the more work like that that you can show, the better :)

Darrin Smith

A lot of companies are switching to the Adobe editing system because Premiere and After Effects. I would say to go with those. Also, Macs are now pretty limited on what you can get in them for editing also for the price. Most companies are using HP's Z800 computers and it is what Adobe recommends. If you are shopping for computer and looking to save money, you can go with a PC that has Windows 8, a 3rd Generation i7 processor, a minimum of 16GB of RAM (Ideal for editing is 32gb), and an NVIDIA Quadro Card, I use the Quadro 4000. If you go to and type in Quadro 4000 for a search, a list of really nice computers come up that are already configured for editing and you will just have to worry about choosing your price range. And remember, whatever price you choose, is doubled and even tripled if you go with a MAC and could also be limited in some hardware components that the PC already has. Anyone who says "Go with a Mac" is a bit ignorant in understanding or how to know what the best editing systems are.

Michael Olson

I agree Darrin. And I'm using a Mac with Final Cut. I love my set up, but Final Cut seems to have dropped the ball with X and Premiere is picking up the business. I have a colleague who loves his Final Cut X, so for that bit of info, I say, go with what suits you and your budget. I guess my bottom line is, find out what pros are using and judge for yourself because they may need your skills with pacing and story. I put a lot of stock on story and pacing. The tools are only tools.

Bianca Filoteo

I actually like Final Cut X - it seemed intuitive to me. Granted, I wasn't using Final Cut Pro for that long and I watched tutorials on Final Cut X. But I do agree that it can be a personal preference. You gotta try them out and see which calls to you. I believe Final Cut X has a 30-day Free Trial, and Adobe Premiere does as well. I'd recommend test driving both to see how you respond to the interface

Brian Cooney

I would say... get to places and get to know people. Explore every connect option you can find. Do some work and post it. Even if it's free-bee. This will be your best asset. I hate to say it, even better than school. People want to know what you've done. Get the diploma/degree because you need to do that for personal reasons, seriously, but it really is word of mouth. I think that your degree could open some apprenticeships.... get you in the door , in some places, but try to get editing on a project or 2 that could boost your portfolio. You will make it if you stick at it and don't give up. Your skills will lead the way. Don't limit yourself to editing, but get proficient in motion gfx and animation (after effects, maya, etc) , you will be way more valuable if you have a full tool kit that represents you. - B

Elisha Escalante

Thank you all for your great advice! Looks like the best thing to do is not to even bother with getting a masters in editing and just doing it on the side at first. I plan on getting my new computer after Christmas, you know, hit the Christmas sale xD and then I will be able to work on a lot more things. Also I might be looking into filming my own things. Start off with maybe filming my own city and making a montage sorta thing but we will see about that. Again, Thank you all so much for you help! I appreciate it!

Shawn Boss

Very good edit. :)

Elisha Escalante

Thank you :D

Derrick Berry

From my experience and in talking with professionals (I'm an amateur-in-progress lol), they'd rather see my work is good than see a certificate of passing a course in editing. Do you have to take a post grad course to be from the example you've shown. Do you, set your own rules, learn the basics, and set trends instead of following two cents.

Karen Leabo

I was a copy editor for years and I don't have a post grad degree just a BA in communications. Just put yourself out there. If you're any good you 'll get work.

Gregory Baskin

Karen is correct. Your background is irrelevant, it's your product that counts.

Karen Leabo

I started out editing grad students' theses and dissertations. I also did some work for free. Once you do that, you have some previous work you can mention, and your clients might refer you to others. Good luck!

Leo Procopio

Speaking from my own experience, a freelance editor since the Jurassic period. I would suggest that you learn all editing software including Avid and fcp x. This would make you versatile and available for any job that came along.

Elisha Escalante

Thank you for the advice! Definitely going to start getting myself out there and getting some PROPER experience!

Mark Lloyd

I'm in almost the same position Elisha and have had tonnes of advice from other editors, it will be tough but stick at it, it doesn't matter where you learnt how to edit as long as you have the passion and talent to create great cuts. I'd say only 15% of editing is technical, the rest is talent. It takes a good editor to know which frames to cut. Keep at it and if you ever wanna collaborate on something, hit me up! Good luck!

Micheal Andrew Muro

Yep that is exactly right there is no way else to say it. It is up to you, but remember everyone is better at a different genre so once you find yours im sure it will be grate! And this video is awesome so I think you found it.

Simon © Simon

If I may... Build your own computer. I built my own, if you can read, snap together parts, and turn a screw driver. You are there. I built a B.A. computer for about 2k. US. I7 3770K processor, 2 SSD's, 3TB of HDD, Quadro 4000, 16gb of RAM It ROCKS! Oh use Win7 Pro Not Win8 Get 7Pro! If going the PC route. To much BG trash running on the 8 along with the backdoor built into it. My computer would be about 4500 if it had a badge on it from the big companies with sub par SSD's, Drives and cooling. BTW. Head over to Tom's Hardware and or PCpartpicker to learn. Plenty of support there. I edit with CS6- Because I like to cook from scratch and don't care for canned effects. See After Effects. On that note Digital Juice just released a canned pack of cool effects. You can apply them with most industry standard NLE. If you don't want to learn how to make real cool effects and the transitions out there are fine by you. I learned with Pinnacle, Corel and then went to AVID before deciding I want full control. On to the Master's....Hmmm... Gatekeepers are trained to look for BA's I have found. So plugging into a major studio or TV station, you may find a challenge showing your reel. FWIW. Editing is a self taught practice no matter if you take 600-800 hours of online classes as I have. You still have to take what you have learned and apply it tastefully and originally without 'freaking anyone out'. Funny though, I have spoken to people with degrees who swear by FCP and they only want to hire someone who knows FCP and knows MAC. Which are canned transitions, effects and so forth. Not anything wrong with them it is just that while watching things like the "Dome" on T.V I can see how they made effect in After Effects. So....There you go. Good luck. Now all of this is not absolute, you could marry the president of ABC and all bets are off. LOL!

Adrian Pedrin V.

my advice is passion, keep at it keep busy, and this is key, ALWAYS every new cut you do, improve! don't do the same thing over and over, look for editors who know their stuff and talk to them, learn from them and be humble and funny, that's what got me thru the door and gave me a shot to prove my self. I did not study Video Editing, in fact i didn't study anything and my resume includes acts like Rihanna, Britney Spears, Jlo and my favorite, the Cirque Du Soleil Michael Jackson show in Mandalay is possible you just have to want to learn more and more.

Darrin Smith

I was suppose to be home schooled after 5th grade but due to family circumstances I had none. I have had to figure everything out on my own. I working in the industry and have my own business as a DP. So, I did not need a degree, anymore... companies looks for talent in a demo reel, after that they look at what's on paper and usually it's your qualifications. My friend who edits the show "The Voice" has no degree. Look up Kevin Benson on IMDB and you will see what someone with no degree in editing has accomplished.

Teri Beth Royal

Nice editing work, Elisha! I may have a gig you'd be interested in. Not quite as dramatic as your sample clip but, a job's a job, right? Let me know if you're interested.

Elisha Escalante

Thanks! :D I am interested, just leave me a message here explaining what the project is and I will get back to you :)

Elisha Escalante

Thank you! Yes I am back at uni soon so I am going to take advantage of free books and take a bunch of books out on editing. It wont hurt to read up on some things I guess. I am the kinda person who doesn't like watching tutorials, I learnt how to do this all by myself. I don't like them because I think, if you watch someone do something then you are not gonna develop your own style and your own way of doing things, you wouldn't just be like the average person. I also like a good mess around with things, always have, never liked instructions when you get something new, I like to just mess with it to try and figure it out by myself....until I get no where and have to read instructions that is haha

Elisha Escalante

I didn't mean that if I did so happen to work with someone on their short film I wouldn't take their direction of what they wanted. I was talking about learning how to edit in the first place. I did it all by myself, no help from anyone. I was in no way saying I wouldn't edit something the way I was asked. I have had people on here tell me lots of times that film school is not needed. They say its all about the talent ect and tbh I dont have the money to spend on film school like a lot of people, I am already in a crap load of dept from student loans. A lot of people like me cant afford it so I doubt most of the editors in the business now come from a "trained by schools" background :) I have my own style now because these are my own ideas. I am not a pro so right now its all from my mind not from any director. That is what I was saying.

Adrian Pedrin V.

I did not go to film school, but i did find out that in ad agencies its no so much as your style they want as your ability to cut video fast and efficient, you will have a few times a day the client, the project manager, creative director, writer or the director with you, sometimes all of them at the same time and the will want changes, and fast, so its not about style there its about efficiency with the software. Concentrate on that, think of yourself as a mercenary. You can message me if you want and i can tell you the most used shortcuts in final cut and a little about how i have my keyboard set up.

Elisha Escalante

Yeah, I am very fast at putting my videos together because there is nothing more I hate then having something unfinished for weeks because it plays on my mind. Also when I start a video, I won't stop till its finished, I sleep and pee and thats about it lol So sometimes I can have these done in a day. I don't use final cut, I only have Sony Vegas at the moment, that does the job for me at the moment and if things come my way I can start thinking about getting final cut pro and other things. But right now I am just starting off and I would rather stick with what I am using at this moment in case I invest money I dont have into all this software and computers and nothing come from it :) I am getting a new computer though but I will always, no matter if I don't get into the business, do this as a hobby because I love it so much and I am so passionate about it :) But if I do so happen to get Final Cut I know where to come :) Thanks!

Joshua Garza

Hey crystal I'm josh I'm a screenwriter/director I'm a bit new to it though but it's us nice to meet you

Karen Goldfarb

Is anyone familiar with NCH software for editing? Just wondering if anyone has had any experiences with it? Just starting to make my own videos..or Any other suggestions.. I'm not quite ready for Final Cut..;)

Joe Trey

I would say to Karen and Elisha - don't fear Final Cut Pro X - I have been with Final Cut from the beginning and have fallen in and out and in love with it over the years. Regardless of if you pursue higher education - I highly recommend for training - in a day or 2 you can get the basics of the FCX down - turning your edit into art - as you know of course takes longer - I do not work for them - I just give them my money year after year - $300 for a full subscription is a steal in my opinion. You can also buy monthly for $30 and quit at any time. Some good starting point courses are Ashley Kennedy's series Final Cut Pro X Fundamentals - Norman Hollyn's The Art of Editing, and several courses on using Final Cut Pro for storytelling. I was a music major with a film major roommate. I have managed to make a few bucks over the years as an editor - even though I missed out on pursuing it in school. I hope this information helps you - take care - Joe

Karen Goldfarb

Thanks Joe! Would I have to have a Mac to use?

Joe Trey

Karen to use FCX yes - but if you simply want to learn more about editing - Lynda offers quite a bit on other platforms as well - Adobe Premiere is a good start as well - since it is Cross-Platform

Karen Goldfarb

Tks Joe.;)

Teri Beth Royal

Thanks for your interest! Sorry for my delay in responding. The gig involves some shooting and a lot of editing of video biographies of terminal patients who want to leave their life story to their children and future descendants. It's supported by a non-profit organization based in California. If you are interested, please call my cell at seven-one-four-two-two-two-four-five-nine-six and leave your name and contact number. I'll get back to you! Thanks!

Swan Harris

you can definitely self teach yourself. Personally I think, as an editor myself, the only way to get good at editing is actually editing.... ALOT. A bunch of hands on experience and you will develop the feel and the art of editing not just the technical side of it. Good Luck!

Swan Harris

oh and great job! seems like you already have a natural sense for it :)

Eric Brodeur

You don't need to attend school for editing. The advantage to school is they will teach you things you might not otherwise learn on your own. Another advantage is "built in" networking; you'll be spending lots of time with other filmmakers who will help each as time goes on. As Swan has said, you develop your skills by editing as much as possible. I recommend you decide what area you want to specialize in - television, features, documentaries - and pursue those opportunities. It will also determine what software you will want to learn (hint: generally speaking, movies and TV shows are edited in Avid...not Final Cut X or Premiere). IMO, as an editor, you develop the most when you work on other people's projects...not your own stuff.

Frank Nuñez

I'm currently working as an editor for a nationwide sport fishing show, "Sport Fishing With Dan Hernandez" and the only experience I had when I landed the job was short films I made myself and a few community college courses. As long as you have an eye for details and a knavk for storytelling/puzzle making (inside joke) you are more than capable of being a great editor.

Shannon Brady

most paid editing stuff comes when they can see a nice portfolio. School is nice if you're rich and can afford it.. I went to the University of Youtube and the Library ;)

Ayokunle Owu

Music is what I do.... download and share

Cary Gries

Editing is not about understanding technical mechanics. Editing comes from an innate understanding of pace, rhythm and an inner sense. However, these things can be taught as long as the student is open and passionate about the art of editing.

Danny McIvor

In most cities are amateur filmmaking groups. (try If you can hook up with one of them then you will have lots of opportunity to edit. Of all the skills a filmmaker has, whether he or she is a Director, Cinematographer or Screenwriter, a knowledge of editing is the most import skill to have in the toolbox. Once you know about editing you can do other film related jobs better and more easily. I don't think you need to go to school to learn it. Just do it as much as you can with the best equipment you can afford.

Janet Scott

That was spectacular .....I could see that as the opening to a Movie. Just had a creative thought on the theme for the MOVIE... well done.... Now I have to sit and write down some thoughts...

Brian Green

Yo Elisha, I just want to add my two cents in this post. I think you have the ability to be a good editor. Clearly you have a vision on how certain elements should come together as it relates to music and pacing. My suggestion would be (once you have a stronger system) ask for an apprenticeship at a production company local to you. If not that, take up some 3rd party freelance editing work if you can from as many different genres as you can handle. Cutting together a documentary is a bit different than cutting reality TV, than a music video, than a feature film and you get the point. And only the experience of doing them will teach you those things. You'll also want to test yourself as it relates to turn around time. Any company that you work for is going to want to know you can handle the time frames of the work load you may get so you'll want to practice on that. There plenty of other little subtle points in editing that I could go into but, to repeat the running trend here, you'll get those when you dive into it. I just suggest freelance work (for actors, start-up companies, etc.) because it'll give you a huge learning curve, more room for error and you may get a few extra bucks along the way. Good luck!

Geoff Mastro

Good work! Here are the dirty secrets... No you don't need a degree. Matter of fact do NOT spend any money on a course or program. I don't know what platforms you're editing on, but currently what you need to know is Avid Media Composer, FCP7 (not x so much) and rising quickly in independent use Adobe Premier which is now a pay by month program. All of these can be learned by tutorials on the product's sites themselves or youtube. It is hard to get gigs in editing. Most start out assisting, which like Bri said, hit every posthouse you can find looking for an assistant gig. To get editing gigs you need a reel, and it can't really be mashups. You need credits (imdb or at least original works on your reel) so, the best advice I got back in the day was "Edit everything you can get your hands on!" Try not to do for free, but you will have to do cheap to start. By the way, this way of building your career really hurts those of us who are working pros. It's harder and harder to get work while so many are doing it for so cheap, so be forewarned, when it comes time for you to start charging more because you have the experience, you might not be doling out the advice like I just did. Good lick! It's not steady work!!

Lisa Souza

Geoff - what a lovely gesture. Professionals like you who are willing to help new arrivals are rare and awesome birds. Thank you for sharing your experience with Elisha.

James David Sullivan

Trailer for the soon-to-be-released classic, "Professional Channel Surfing Finals"

James David Sullivan

@EE - you don't have one zero, you have 2; and they look like this: oo ;-) Best of luck - you already have what it takes!

Derek Nickell

Taking classes for the use of software, compression and delivery aspects is always good. But beyond the technical aspects of editing, which just about anyone can learn, you have to be able to tell a story and build emotion. Pacing and feeling is key to editing.

Georgia Hilton

you don't need a degree... you need talent... take some classes, shot some stuff and start learning. In the mean time get an intern gig with a local editor and start there... Once you can cut, then start putting a demo together with the help of a couple local shooter or something. Then find a couple student projects and start editing those... and work your way into editing for a living.

Jon Miles

You do not need a degree. Just get in where you fit in. In the meantime cut anything and everything you can get your hands on. Pick a software and master it. Learn how to color correct as well. Basics nothing to fancy.

Jonathan Lacocque

It seems like everyone has covered a lot here, but I'll just add one thing. Experience is everything. You don't need a degree so don't waste your money unless you may want to teach in the future - a degree is important for that and it's a far more steady job than many in our industry. Beyond doing as much work as possible (even for free with friends or for low-pay in between other jobs if you want), I'd also recommend finding a mentor. I never had one myself, but have seen through many, and from people who I've worked with, that it's far quicker and more rewarding than school. And if you find the right one it will be much less expensive! Not to mention you're learning real world issues as you cut along with seeing why an editor makes story-based decisions as she or he cuts. Best of luck to you!

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