Most people don’t really think about a film/video editor or what it is they actually do. A talented editor can save a bad shoot, and a mediocre editor can destroy a compelling narrative. The true handiwork of a gifted editor is invisible, but the power of their stitches have a big impact emotionally. Their decisions about pacing, music, sound design, shot, and cut style choices—everything—draw you into a story and can lead you down a dark alley or yellow brick road to surprise or shock you, confuse you, educate you, make you laugh or cry.
Before desktop computers hit the scene in the early 1990’s, editors were considered wizards cutting television commercials and movies on crazy looking machines called Moviolas, Steenbecks and Kems/flatbeds. The post-production process was linear–one change and you had to start all over again. Every step of the post-production process (develop, print, sync, screen) took much more time than it does today. Back then, creativity cooked at a different temperature to boil.
The AVID and a number of other desktop edit platforms revolutionized the post process. Technology gave the editor more control to move the rough cut along faster and closer to where the final edit would land. The days of waiting for dailies and opticals were over. The “decision” based workflow was replaced by the “choice” based workflow, and we’ve never looked back.
Perhaps because the process is called post-production and the editor’s contribution comes after the shoot, the editor is still considered somewhat of a second class creative, after the director. But the next time you find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat watching an action movie or crying at one of those puppy and Clydesdale commercials, you can bet that an editor had a big hand in taking you on that emotional roller coaster ride.
Click below to watch 3 commercials, which were shot sublimely and edited to perfection.