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Five Guidelines for Becoming a Video Editor

Due to the overwhelming amount of content on the web and on streaming services, content creators are more valued now than ever before. One of the most specialized roles in the process of creating content is that of video editor. Video editors usually work in relative isolation, focusing on their projects intently and dedicated to perfecting both the smallest details and largest concerns of the video project.

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 five tips for an easier path to achieving your dream job.

  • Learn your role in the broader process of video making
  • Research average salaries and gain experience to maximize your value
  • Enroll in a formal course to learn from experts in an academic setting

Know the Function of Editing in the Production Process

Video editing is the last step in the production process, after preproduction and production. 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.

Understand Your Value

The demand for video editors, and many other production roles, has risen in the past few years because of the avalanche of content both online and on more traditional media like film and television. The pace of demand shows no sign of stopping as more and more companies expand their content production branches and compete with each other to fill space on their platforms.

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.

Refine Your Skills

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.

Qualifications for Video Editing

A college degree is not absolutely required to become a professional editor, but many companies will ask for graduates in film or related subjects. The experience and knowledge of a film school is also useful to have in your back pocket throughout your career.

However, in video, as in most creative fields, your skill will speak louder than your formal education or degree. If you can consistently produce quality work on time, you’ll be far more likely to get a job than someone who struggles to meet deadlines or whose work may not reflect their experience and skill. Bringing you’re A-game to every project is crucial to impress both current and potential clients.

Try to gain experience wherever and however you can. Edit friends’ videos, offer to work for reduced pay at your local church or business, or even film some content of your own to edit together. There are no wrong ways to gain experience; the only mistake you can make early is not working on your craft to begin with.

Formal Experience and Training

Experience in the field is a crucial step in becoming a full-time, well compensated video editor. Learning while in the field is an excellent way to encounter many real-time, on-the-job problems while still having a safety net of others guiding you along and helping you solve problems both common and uncommon to the job.

While formal courses are not required to get started as an editor, they are highly recommended and can be instrumental in helping you land your first job in the industry.

Many colleges have film programs which focus almost exclusively on the production process; a large swath of your time and energy will be focused on editing both your own projects and assignments given to you. These same courses also exist online, perfect for those who don’t have the time or money to attend a two or four year university. Internships and apprenticeships are a must.

Many companies will happily hire you as an intern, helping you develop your skills while guiding you through their specific process and maybe even paying you to learn from them. You’ll probably perform a fair amount of work for free as you get started, but with patience, determination, and the proper work ethic, these gigs will start paying off.

Final Thoughts

Video editing requires a unique skill set and dedication to the craft. If you think working as a video editor sounds like a fun career choice, remember to know your role, know your worth, and know your route.

Keeping these things at the forefront of your mind will help propel you to a full-time career as a video editor.


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