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The Editing Order in Video Production

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 3/5/2010

Learn a simple way to organize and itemize your editing process.

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    Done Filming

    Now that you have all the footage you need for your digital video film it is time to capture it onto your editing computer and get to work. Editing is really where the film comes together instead of just being a collage of scattered parts. To edit efficiently and quickly it is important to keep a proper editing order in mind.

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    Organize

    The first thing you should always do is catalogue and sync all of your footage. This had even more relevance back in the days of film stock, but it is still important today. Make sure that all your footage is properly captured, labeled, and placed in accessible bins in your editing file. Go through and make sure that the sound is synced to each video clip because this can be a problem with longer pieces of raw footage.

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    Make Choices

    The next step is to go through and find the best takes for each scene. This should be easy if you kept a Shot Log and other types of records when you were on set, but either way you need to review it closely. From here you can begin to eliminate the clips that you do not want to actually use in the film.

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    First Draft

    From here you do the rough edit, or the story edit. This is the first thing people think of when they consider editing, but really it is just the rough draft. Go through and arrange the clips as you like, focusing more on putting together the story with the best images and transitions you can find. Do not worry about effects or corrections quite yet.

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    Final Cut

    From here you can look over the film and begin preparing the final cut. This is where you trim some sections, alter others, add effects and transitions, and generally work out all of the kinks in the film. This can be considered a final draft, one that maintains the structure you developed in the first cut but really smoothes it out and makes it work even better.

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    Sound

    Once that has been completed you need to start thinking about music and audio effects. Here is where you gather the musical tracks you have been collecting, as well as all the artificial sound effects you have used and begin putting them in. While placing them carefully you can do all the corrections you will need to to make them fit perfectly.

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    Correction

    After this you should then focus on color and audio correction in the film. This can constitute both footage you acquired during filming, as well as things you put in later.

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    Final Mix

    After this is where the final mix gets done. Anything that seems out of place or needs to be altered is done in this final process. At the end of this it should look like a completed video.

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    Text

    The last editing thing you will need to do is to put in the titles, credits, and any other surface things that are not actually part of the film. Though this isn’t part of the story space or visual continuity, special care should be taken to make sure that the text does not interfere with the watchability of the video and that it helps maintain the tone.

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    Exporting

    Finally compressing or conforming the film to the proper format is need. This could be simply exporting to a QuickTime file, or going through a complicated compression process for DVD authoring.

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    Chaos

    Some people work better with a more personalized chaos, and may want to remove themselves from this order. That is fine, but for those new to editing it may streamline the whole process to keep the order in mind.