What Makes a Great Video Editor?

Indeed. What does make a great video editor? I ask myself this question in the hopes of one day becoming one. Granted, you need to know the software. But there’s more to it than that. A great video editor is more than just a button pusher; they’re a storyteller, a listener, a problem solver and and an artist all in one. Let’s explore!

A great video editor needs to be a storyteller, which means you must understand the elements to that story. If you’re telling a narrative, what is the plot? Who are your characters? What is the conflict of your story? The same applies for a documentary; who are the subjects you will use to help tell the story. What message are you trying to convey? These are questions you need to ask before you begin your edit. Once answered, you will have a much easier time piecing together your footage.

A great video editor needs to be a listener. At 522, we’re often approached by clients with a specific concept in mind, and others that have a vague idea, but know they definitely want a video. As an editor, you need to hear them out and execute their vision. Get some background that will help lay the foundation for your video. The best way to do this is by asking questions. This might even help steer the client in a particular direction by introducing ideas they may not have considered. Then, as they’re reviewing the rough cut, you need to listen and incorporate their changes. They may not break it down in terms of swapping out a shot or lengthening a clip. Sometimes changes can be more conceptual and you need to be able to interpret what they’re telling you.

A great video editor needs to be a problem solver. Generally, this tends to be more of a technical issue. No program is without its little quirks. My personal favorite was Final Cut Pro’s “General Error”. You know, nothing specific as to what the problem is. Just…general. Other problems might arise because of your project settings or an external hard drive issue. The most common problems are usually a result of user error. That’s right, YOU! But chances are someone else has made the same mistake and wrote about it somewhere. Researching digital media forums like creativecow.net can help you troubleshoot many of the issues you might encounter with your program.

Make no mistake about it; video editing is an art. And like any other medium, editors are influenced by those that came before them. But no two are the same. Every editor develops their own style, their own technique and their own method. If you watch a series of videos cut by the same editor you’ll pick up on similarities between them, despite being their own unique videos. At the end of the day, the art of video editing is derived from the editors ability to illicit an emotional response from the viewer. Perhaps a video is stylized a certain way or incorporates visual effects to excite the viewer. Both of these techniques can be very effective in enhancing your video. When they’re overused they can become distracting, drawing the viewer away from the story. Personally, I like to keep things simple, putting more consideration into the pacing and structure of the video.

So what are some of your favorite videos? What can you identify about their editing style that makes them so effective? Perhaps there is something you might have done differently. Think about it.

Resources

Creating a video doesn't have to be complicated. Here are a few resources to help you along the way.

  • New to Video?

    A first timer's guide to
    producing video.

    Get the Book
  • How Much is
    a Video Worth?

    A complete guide to
    calculating the ROI of video.

    Get the Book
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