Video editing refers to the sequential manipulation of video shots, to structure and present video for films and television shows, video advertisements. Video editing has been dramatically democratised in recent years by technology advancements in this domain, which have eased the procedure and techniques used to get the perfect video shot.
Post-production is the final stage of the video production process. Post-production can also be referred to as the ‘putting together’ stage—a final finishing of the video just filmed. It’s when all the content that has been envisioned and captured, is ready to be pieced together. All the elements of post-production need to work in tandem in order to make the video work as intended.
While directing and filming are the most essential parts of filmmaking, editing brings it all together in a visually-appealing and entertaining format. Picture the quick-cut transitions and comic editing style of any Edgar Wright movie, for example, The World’s End. The 2013 comedy sci-fi movie is one of the wittiest movies made with the shots edited exceptionally well, and thus, exuding a signature flair of a comedy movie. The frantic and overwhelming opening scene in City of God, also used editing and cutting techniques that one can make use of when putting together a quintessential impactful scene.
EASE OF EDITING
Once the province of expensive machines called video editors, video editing software is now available for personal computers and workstations, making it easier to cut or trim video segments, re-sequence clips, and add transitions and other special effects. Although augmentations in technology have helped catalyse effective and quicker editing, there are a few factors to key in, to make the procedure equally effective and worth the time and effort. There are different types of video editing meant to cater to different applications. Linear video editing uses video tape and is edited in a very linear way. Several video clips from different tapes are recorded to one single tape in the order that they will appear. Non-linear editing systems (NLE) allow video to be edited on computers with specialised software. This process is not destructive to the raw video footage and is done by using programs such as DaVinci Resolve, Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro.Offline editing is the process by which raw footage is copied from an original source, without affecting the original film stock or video tape. Once the editing is complete, the original media is then re-assembled in the online editing stage.
Online editing is the process of reassembling the edit to full resolution video after an offline edit has been performed. It is done in the final stage of a video production.Cloud-based editing is the process of utilising the internet to work with content remotely, collaboratively or of a time-critical nature such as editing of live sports events in real-time using video proxies (lower resolution copies) of original material.Vision mixing is used when working within live television and video production environments. A vision mixer is used to cut live feed coming from several cameras in real time.
THE BUILDING BLOCKS
Takes: The term ‘take’ can refer to shots of a subject which are filmed from various perspectives. But it can also refer to shots with slightly different details (such as the lighting or background elements). It is advisable to film the subjects from varied angles and using different arrangements. Filming several different takes gives the editor plenty of material to choose from later.
Scenes and sequences: Editing a movie is analogous to climbing up a structural diagram with a bottom-to-top approach. The takes from the raw material and knit together to form scenes together step by step, cut by cut. Cuts are transitions between shots. A scene consists of video material that belongs to a single location and time continuum, but doesn’t necessarily have to be shown in a seamless fashion. Scenes normally consist of several different shots.
An instance of dialogue, for example, will normally be shown using multiple shots that alternate between showing the speaker, the listener, and both together, while the audio tracks plays uncut. These elements are combined to form a dialogue scene. The transition between the last shot of the current scene and the first shot of the next scene is typically different—and more noticeable—than the transitions that take place between shots within a single scene.
Cuts and transitions: A cut causes the time, location and perspective of what’s happening in a movie, to change in an inconspicuous way. This is normally achieved by ‘continuity editing.’ One needs to decide where one shot ends, and the next begins—called a transition. Transitions take the viewer from one shot to the next,and in doing so, create a narrative context and a sense of anticipation in the viewer’s mind. The lengths of the shots give birth to a cinematic rhythm, which helps churn out the emotion in a story. A standard cut simply connects two frames, while a jump cut pushes forward in time.
A shot should be cut before the subject has left the frame, which essentially means, empty frames should be avoided. Scenes hould be narrative—an empty shot or completed action tells the viewer that the narrative arc is coming to a conclusion.
Montage: A montage is an editing technique that signifies the passage of time or helps to give an overall context to the story with quick cuts. For example, a quick precursor to an event or a post-report thereof, makes use of montages. It can be used for almost any transformation by any character(s), and is normally underscored by music. This technique was evident in the movie, Whiplash, in which the rhythm of the montage takes us perspective of the protagonist.
Shot reverse shot: Shot reverse shot is the most frequently used and most effective editing technique in the business.
Imagine a person on the street entering a building, approaching the door and opening it. Upon entering, a reverse shot cut is made to show the same person from the interior perspective as he or she closes the door behind them. Editing these two shots together creates the impression of a natural sequence of events. The interior space the person has entered—the one we see in the second shot—is indeed the same space behind the door the person entered in the first shot. Although, in reality the two space are most likely unrelated.
Cross dissolve: A cross dissolve uses overlapping layers or dissolves to show multiple stories or scenes happening at once, but shot at different times. By gradually shortening the scenes, suspense is generated, leading to a climactic point. Imagine a flight passenger talking to the person sitting in the adjacent seat. Meanwhile, a family drives to the airport. Both of these sequences can be stretched out and interwoven. Shortening the time between cuts creates a sense of increasing suspense. The most suitable example of this would be the movie, Apocalypse Now.
Fade in/out: This technique fades out one clip and fade in the other. This implies a passage of time—think: a night-to-day switch or someone falling asleep.
J and L cut: An L cut is used when you want to have audio from clip A continue when clip B comes in. The J cut is the opposite, where the audio from clip B comes in when we’re still seeing clip A. Pretty much every documentary interview you’ve ever seen uses J and L cuts throughout.
Cutting on action: A cut should be ideally made mid-action i.e. in the middle of an action. Say, for instance, if it’s a close-up shot of the protagonist lifting a cocktail glass and drinking from it, it is best to cut in the midst of the movement—here, when the subject is lifting the glass. This is because, the viewer is aware of the narrative arc and can anticipate the end-result of the movement, which is, the glass arriving at the subject’s mouth. This makes the cut less noticeable to the eye. The bathroom scene from Pulp Fiction is an example of pretty much every cut being on the action.
Invisible cut: This keeps the shot looking like one continuous take. Invisible cuts were used to nab Oscar Gold in the movie, Gravity. One can replicate this by filling the end of one frame with something black or low-lit (or of a similar colour in general) and blending it with the beginning of the next clip.
THE FINAL TOUCH
Cutting is followed by locking the sequence of picture, adding the sound or background score, addition of VFX wherever needed, and colour correction, amongst a plethora of other after-effects that are now more-evolved. At the end of it, it all depends on the video editor and the director. They can use the techniques they deem best suitable to get the required effect and evoke emotion. It is all about what goes with the style of the movie/ad and the subjective requirement of each scene.