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What is Editing?
Lucy Harris
What is Editing?

Digital or non-linear editing refers to the process where material is transferred from it’s original format into digital files that the computer can “read’’. One obvious advantage is that the original material does not get damaged. Also once the footage is digitized into the computer, it no longer needs to be played in a linear way. One can access the footage at any point with a mouse click, without having to play/fast forward/rewind. This process is the basis for the term ‘non-linear’ editing. This can potentially speed up the editing process, but there is also the danger of ‘missing’ shots, because one is not watching/spinning through all of the footage so regularly.

Digital editing also allows one to work on different versions of the same film (as footage and sequences are easily ‘duplicated.’) So early versions of the film can be saved and viewed and different versions of the film can be worked on concurrently.

‘Non-linear’ also refers to working on multiple tracks in a ‘vertical’ way, so layering images and sounds becomes possible at any stage of the edit. This also applies to adding effects, importing still images and manipulating material.

In a digital editing environment there are potentially a huge palette of tools available to work with at any stage of the edit. However this can be distracting early on, and make for a confusing working process. In a conventional edit, effects are usually added towards the end-stages. It’s also easy to be seduced by digital effects, without recognising that they are standardised and have a limited range (so what may seem exciting when you are working on your own, will look very different when viewed alongside other films obviously using the same ‘effects’).

If used well, digital effects can aid and make beautiful films, but can also act as a constraint to your creative/working process.

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