What is an Editor, and What is Their Essential Job Duty on set?
The editor is responsible for working through sometimes seemingly countless hours of footage in order to select the best takes and then link them together into a workable film. This takes time, sometimes multiple times longer than it does to film. The editor is the technician that draws out the true emotions of the story, building suspense, humor or inherent joy that keeps the audience captivated and ready for the next scene.
Film editing is often referred to as an invisible art because editors work behind the scenes to create a seamless finished project that most of us don’t think twice about.
We never realize how much of a heavy, labor intensive role the film editor has on the production, but the reality is–they have their hands actively working on every element of the entire process. The editor takes great care to seamlessly splice together the film footage that we come to love.
The editor comes in during post-production to effectively join together the various shots to make up the scenes that portray a finished movie.
Film editors usually work very closely with the director to ensure that his or her creative vision is realized with the editing of the shots and scenes.
Before films were digital, film editing literally required the editor to “cut” the film and piece it back together. The editor would carefully take long strips of film, precisely cutting them and sticking them back together with tape and glue to create rolls that would effectively become the movies and shows that you and I watch on the screen.
The editor is supported by staff assistants, assistant editors, and reports to the director and supervisor. They are generally hired during pre-production so that there is plenty of time for him to get to understand the true creative direction of the film.
They will discuss the creative vision with the director and work closely to fully understand the script and any changes or additions that are made along the way. The film editor may offer suggestions as to unnecessary scenes or elements of the script that should be cut.
Film editors collaborate with the principal of photography and the director as well as the cinematographer to provide insight into shots or scenes that should be added, camera angles to consider, or adjustments to the script that could make the storyline come together.
Editors are generally not present during production itself. However, they do report daily to review dailies and to begin putting together a rough cut of the story in the cutting room.
Editors have a very important role of sorting through shots and working off detailed notes from the director and script supervisor as the shots are taken out of logistical order rather than storyline order.
The editor pieces shots together and establishes continuity with the support of the script supervisor and continuity director. This requires rather technical editing to ensure any mistakes that took place during photographer are accounted for and that poor performances are hidden.
Once the film wraps, the editor will continue working closely with the director to review the rough cut and notes associated with it. They will then begin to work on the final cut.
Editing works closely with visual effects, sound editing, dubbing and various other post-production services and techniques to ensure the finishing touches of the film are in place.
Editors must work closely with several members of the film crew and should have strong communication skills. Interpersonal skills and a creative vision are also a must.
Every editor should have a strong understanding of photography, lighting, and sound in order to properly process through various forms of film and stock to produce the best footage.
Film editors must also possess the following skills:
- Ability to understand linear and non-linear editing processes.
- Ability to work closely with various members of film crew.
- Strong communication.
- Exceptional creative ability.
- Expertise in editing digital footage.
- Final cut expertise.
- Understanding of various film exposure processes.