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Field Production Basics

Release status: new

Description Crash course in editing
Author(s) David Keto (dketoTalk)
Email David Keto
Location U Wyo CES C&T
Ag 33
Phone 766-5695



This page is designed to introduce the basics of video editing. It is important to remember that although editing is the last step in the video production process it is where your story actually comes together. You should try to think about how you might edit your film throughout the pre-production and production process, this will make editing easier and it will ensure you get the proper footage to make the film you want to make.

If you haven’t shot a particular sequence or interview you can’t make it magically appear during editing.

Essential Requirements


Computer with appropriate editing software and adequate memory, storage space and speed, camera with footage on it, proper cables to connect camera and computer (recommend firewire [aka 1394] or usb).


Learning resources information

How To

Thinking of editing as a puzzle you are putting together to create a coherent story can be useful. Try to keep the big picture of your film in mind and gather details that will support this picture. Refer to your treatment throughout the editing process, but remember to be flexible.

The first step is to gather all the content you plan to use; download the footage from the camera to the computer, collect and organize still images you plan to incorporate, find all the audio including music you might need, gather graphics and documents.

Try to keep a well organized folder structure that makes sense to you. You will be dealing with a large number of individual files that need to remain organized in a consistent structure for your editing program to understand.

Download the video files from your camera to your computer, organize them, and import them into your editing program. Next you should watch the footage, make some notes about good shots, and transcribe the interviews.

Interview transcription means typing out the interviews word for word with the associated time in the video where the statements occur. While it can be time consuming interview transcripts allow you to edit on paper and make edits based very specifically on how long a particular statement might take. A transcript also helps if you are working on a video as a group so that group members don’t need the video clips to make edits and suggestions.

Once you’ve looked at the footage and perhaps made transcripts its time to begin editing.

Think of the editing process as a hierarchical building process. Individual shots are the building blocks, they are built into sequences, then sections and up to a complete video. Each level should give you an opportunity to tell a story and convey information, be conscious of this building process and make sure that each level fits your goals for the video.

The first cut or rough cut should be large chunks/sequences that serve as an outline or framework for your story. As the term editing implies you will go through many iterations. With each successive rough cut you should add b-roll (supporting images) and begin to tell your story in more detail. Once you have a version of the film that contains all the images, stills, and audio you hope to use get some feedback, see if the movie makes sense to others and fulfills the purpose you intended.

If you are satisfied with your rough cut move to fine cutting. At this step you should be looking at nuances, timing, and the feel of your film. Make small cuts or additions and smooth the edges of your film. Once you have a complete fine cut you are at picture lock. The timing and imagery shouldn’t be changed.

From here you will put on the finishing touches; record final narration, add titles, add additional graphics, mix and balance the audio, add music and credits. It’s a good idea to have someone look at the film again just to be sure everything is coming together.

Once you have a final cut be sure to output your movie so everyone can enjoy it. Consider using youtube or DVD as your primary distribution, but be sure to tailor distribution to your intended audience.

Reading List

Key Web links

Video Tutorials