Behind the Scenes at SVG: Editing

Non-Linear Editing in its original form.

Non-Linear Editing in its purest form.

“You make three films. There’s the film you write, the film you shoot, and the film you edit.”

-Ancient Filmmaking Proverb

Shooting a video or film is unglamorous. It is an inherently structered, regimented, slow, and tedious process. On set you aren’t creating, just following the instructions laid out in the script: a shot from this angle, a line from that actor. The real creative inspiration comes from the writers, while questions of structure, pace, and taste go to the editors.

Imagine: the writer finds the diamond, the director digs it up, and the editor cuts to find the natural beauty. It’s much the same for social video marketing as it is for film.

We shot our own video commercial a few weeks back. You can read about the shoot here. On set we worked to cover the angles and actions laid out in the script. Apart from lighting, however, there was very little creative energy. Putting the pieces of the puzzle we shot together in the editing room, however, proved to be great creative fun.

The first thing I noticed, after the painful transcoding and backing up process, is how many things we shot that didn’t work. Sometimes it’s continuity, sound, framing, performance, etc. Most of the time it’s pacing, especially in a marketing video. You only have a couple minutes to hook your viewer and tell a story; beyond that you bore them, especially in the age of countless kitten video distractions. I started with a three minute cut and struggled to trim it to a taught two minutes two seconds at a time. the cuts always seemed to be my favorite shots. They just didn’t fit when I reduced the piece to it’s essential parts.

Perhaps I’ll come up with a 3 minute “Directors Cut Special Edition.” Then again, the edited film is better than the ones I wrote and shot. The boundary of running time helped.

This is why SVG shoots so much footage for our clients. We want to bring many pieces to the editing room so we can use only the best and most essential ones in our final cut. We spent two days shooting at the Al Huda Society and boiled the footage down to two minutes. Don’t be surprised when something we shoot for your company doesn’t make the cut.

With Non-Linear Editing technology powerful enough to do almost anything, the artistic choices an editor has are nearly limitless. (If you want to see that power used poorly check out this behind the scenes video of the first Star Wars prequel.) Then there is sound editing, mixing, and visual effects. You can do anything you want nowadays, but it’s often best to stay within boundaries.

That’s why production companies like SVG exist: To collaborate with clients on branding and content, go through the process of shooting, and craft everything into a cohesive, snappy social video.  That’s in addition to technical editing expertise with encoding for the web, uploading with a CMS, printing DVD’s, and so on. We have the experience and expertise to quickly turnaround a final cut.

I’ve hardly scratched the surface here, but I thought I’d share some of our experience editing at SVG.

UPDATE: Watch our new Videomercial on Youtube.