Editing is my jam. I remember the first real project I ever edited was freshman year of high school, where I was entrusted with the filming and editing of a 2 hour long Veteran’s Day Parade. We had two camera angles shooting the parade, and I was instructed to edit four hours total of footage into a two minute video in Adobe Premiere Pro that somehow hit all the best floats with lower third graphics as well. It was a nightmare, but I learned how to edit quickly and efficiently. (Somehow, the video turned out alright, too– I received an award and special thanks for my work.)
I’ve since switched to Avid Media Composer 7 after using it in my production class last semester for my four short films, and I love editing even more now that I’ve learned more about it.
How to Edit Your Web Series
Editing is the final rewrite, and you can change so much about your web series in this part of the process. If you don’t know how to edit, find someone who does, because a polished final product requires time and skill.
Here’s what I use for editing:
- Macbook Pro with Media Composer 7.
- External hard drive with 2 terabytes of space.
For Antidote 15, I ingested footage into an Avid project after each day of shooting. Then synced sound for all the clips of each episode, organized them into bins, and then assembled rough cuts. After the rough cuts, we assessed what we needed for pickups. Then we captured voiceover for what we needed. Bill and I talked about the score before he went off and composed each episode, and after the score is in place, I add any necessary foley, watch for continuity errors, do color correcting, send it out for feedback from my trusty crew, and then get it to a final cut.
Sometimes I break up marathon editing sessions with the 30/30 app, working on a particular task (like color correcting) for 30 minutes before breaking to do a bit of yoga or grab some tea so I don’t go crazy. With editing it’s key to write down tasks and tackle them one at a time.
So that’s my basic workflow. Most of what you learn about editing, you learn by doing. But there are some great tips I’ve learned:
- Cut to performance. Unlike most editing projects, editing a web series or a film project requires an editor who knows story. For example, who gets more screen time? Your lead actress or the guy who is poisoning her? The lead actress, since the audience is experiencing the story THROUGH her, and we need to see her reaction to what Clark is saying. One time I was cutting a final project that was written and directed by someone else, and when my professor saw my rough cut he said that I was cutting to the takes with good lighting, but not the takes with performance. We want to see the emotions on your characters faces so it supports the story, even if you have to choose a take with a better performance rather than a take with beautiful lighting.
- Use Z-Cuts for variety. I saw this kind of cut called a “Z cut” in a book I read a long time ago and while this may or may not be the right term I love it anyways. It’s when the audio of one clip begins in the previous clip, underneath the previous image. For example, in order to give Anita more screen time, I let a closeup of her continue on as the other character’s dialog went underneath as she was listening. It’s a small technique, but I find that it makes a cut far more professional and interesting. You don’t have to always have the camera on the character who is talking — sometimes it’s more interesting if you’re watching how the other character is reacting.
- Foley makes ALL the difference. Good sound effects can really bring atmosphere to a story. Either capture foley yourself or go to a database like Freesound.org.
I could go on and on about post-production, but I’ve got to do some actual editing for the next episode of Antidote 15.
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