To be an editor

I've recently started an acting class (more on that soon), and as it's a beginners class the attendees generally aren't in the industry. One or two would like to write or direct, but generally people are within other careers.

I've been honest and told them what I do. Here's a conversation I had last week after class with a small group:


Them: so what do you edit?
Me: Animation, mostly, at the moment. I have a short film or two coming up on the side.
Them: So where do you go after that? What is it you want to be?
Me: An editor.
Them: No, I mean, would you like to direct?
Me: Nope. I love editing.
Them: But... you already edit. What do you do next?
Me: Edit more. Edit better.


I'm not denying that there are editors out there who have always had their hearts set on directing. After enough sets of bad dailies I have sometimes wanted to make a film under the impression I at least knew a lot of what not to do.... perhaps that's why I'm doing well in animation editing where I have input over the way the framing works, the timing of lines, and the way we actively expect lines to be re-recorded to change performance.

Perhaps it's the lack of perceived credit/ glamour in the eyes of the public that puts the job down? I'd imagine most people on the street would find it very difficult to name any editor. Ask them about directors, and the job becomes much easier. It's true, our sector of the industry does seem to get marginalised (I remember commenting on Twitter one time when I noticed the editorial department credits of a feature film listed below on-set catering) and ACE and MPEG are actively campaigning for greater festival recognition of editors (see for more information). Editors are traditionally seen as the quiet workers behind the scenes, and that's how a lot like it. But the lack of recognition for the job as a craft, and to want to always learn how to do your job better, does sometimes grate.

A Common Problem

Just about anyone who's used Avid before will know that all support queries and error message searches lead back to the Avid Community forum.

This is sometimes all you need to be able to fix your problem (even if the answer usually involves hours of work attempting to find a single corrupted audio file). More often, however, this occurs:


from xkcd

For those of you unfamiliar with xkcd (why? how?!) a great feature is the image alt text, accessible by hovering over the image on their website - or via an app on iOS. And it was the alt text which really made me think of the Avid Community:


"All long help threads should have a sticky globally-editable post at the top saying 'DEAR PEOPLE FROM THE FUTURE: Here's what we've figured out so far ...'"


Beautiful advice, and also potentially circumnavigating the existing dilema of whether to dredge up a 3 year old thread, start a new thread even though nobody knew the answer last time, or just try to get on with it yourself since nobody knew last time - and if they did figure it out then they're not the sort of person to update the old thread in which nobody else seems to have had the same problem over the last 3 years.

Employment and lifestyle choices of a freelancer

It's becoming more difficult these days to find people who have had the same job their whole lives since leaving formal education, but tv/ film freelancers go some way beyond that. Has anyone tried recently to fill in a "previous work" section on an application form (e.g. voluntary work)? That can become a lengthy process. Same when it comes to previous addreses - I've moved for my current job, I'd probably move again (after what I'm assuming will be a move back to London in early 2012), I'd like to work in other countries... and people who haven't had close experience of this sort of lifestyle just don't understand.
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Inheriting Final Cut Pro 7 projects

I find myself in an interesting situation.

I am currently looking at a documentary project which has been started on by another editor, with a view to give feedback and possibly take some days to work on it myself. The work done so far has been in Final Cut Pro 7.

My current FCP system is 6 (Studio 2). I have had no real need until now to upgrade to Studio 3/ FCP7. Firstly I couldn't afford it, and then I was in a long-term contract (well, 1 2/3 years counts as long term in this business) elsewhere - by which point they brought out a new "update".

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The future's 3D?

I'm beginning to understand the appeal a bit more now that I've been able to view things such as football and rugby matches in 3D, and now that people are becoming more familiar with the techniques to correctly shoot for 3D.

I'm not bothered about the new technologies and terminologies so much. I generally enjoy the challenges and opportunities to see how new methodologies can be used in storytelling. It's the creative implications that this could have for editors, as well as the cast and crew of any given production, that concerns me.

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