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A Guide To Becoming A Freelance Video Editor

Technology has progressed leaps and bounds in the last twenty years. Advancements in software and hardware has made the use of digital technology easier to use and people all over the world are taking advantage. Freelance video editors are popping up at an increased rate and the path to becoming a freelance video editor is extremely doable for many.

The attention to detail and hours working alone attract many unique and willing-to-work individuals to the role; if you’ve always wanted to be a video editor, follow these four tips for an easier path to achieving your dream job.

  • Know the role of a video editor and your place in the production process
  • Practice every day and improve your skills frequently
  • Expand your business and hire other qualified creators

Understand Your Role In The Landscape

Your job as a video editor is to assemble the video which has already been shot by the production team. Don’t overstep your boundaries by augmenting the footage to a ridiculous or personal degree. Instead, work and collaborate with the director to ensure his vision is reached. At this stage, the video has already been filmed but has not yet been assembled. Your job as a video editor will be to take the clips given to you by the production team and assemble them into a coherent narrative.

Depending on the product, you’ll be essential to capturing the correct tone and atmosphere of the project and might even be responsible for correcting the color and audio of the files depending on the size of the production. The larger the production, the more footage you’ll be responsible for watching and editing together; a blockbuster film or complex television show will sometimes shoot hundreds of hours of footage, only to be edited down to a few hours.

Don’t Undersell Your Worth

The key to any freelancing occupation is to know how much you’re wroth in the grand scheme of things. Do your fair share of research to determine what you’ll charge for jobs you work and how you stack up to others in the industry. As you gain more experience and work on bigger and better projects you’ll be able to increase your price, but this requires time and patience. The average pay for film and video editors can range anywhere from $26,560 to $110,790.

This is a massive disparity, but it accurately reflects the disparity in production scale and skill required to work on any given project. For example, a local church might request a video to hype up a summer program or weekly event. Though all editing requires attention to detail and precise timing, this particular project may only require a few clips used and a minimal amount of space of your timeline. However, Hollywood productions require editors to think more creatively and craft a flawless product, combing through hundreds of hours of footage and using thirty-five or forty bars in their timeline.

Learn And Practice Every Day

There are many video editing software packages to choose from, and while it’s not necessary to know all of them inside and out, it is important to choose one and master it. Any video editor should know their chosen editing system inside and out. Whether you choose Premiere Pro, Final Cut, Avid, or another software, you should be well-versed in the product and know many of the shortcuts to save on time and energy. Experimenting with different tools and using a wide variety of cuts and effects will equip you to handle any task asked of you no matter how advanced the project.

On top of the technical challenge, you’ll need to know the essence of the edit – how to create a satisfying flow of events without distracting from the narrative cohesion of your project. Even the shortest, simplest videos are trying to tell a story and your job is to arrange that story in a clear, concise way. Picture the final product in your mind and consult with your director, then start to bring one unified vision to the forefront. Communication skills are also paramount, as you’ll need to please yourself while making sure your vision matches up with the director’s.

Expand Your Business

Down the road, when you know full-well what you’re worth and you’ve developed your skills to be the best video editor you can be, you may want to consider expanding your enterprise. To do this, you’ll need to hire outside help and trust your new employees with small projects and tasks, such as collecting stock footage or filming the outside world for any potential future uses. Stock footage is ultra-convenient for video editors because it’s designed to be easily spliced into footage and improve the overall production quality of a product.

Owners of businesses which have truly grown and expanded find that they rarely work the job they started with. Many successful small business owners find themselves delegating tasks to employees and pitching to clients. If you make it this far, don’t feel bad about having little time to edit; instead, soak in your success and continue to grow your successful business.


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