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What is Editing?
Lucy Harris
What is Editing?

“keeping physical in the digital domain”
It is very easy to get sucked into only working in the computer/monitor “space” or the steenbeck screen, and not allow access to enough other visual references in the edit suite. Stepping back/away from the seduction of the screen to work out the structure of your film can be done in many ways

My approach is to encourage bringing your own creative processes into the editing environment rather than attempting to adopt a new set of ‘rules’ or foreign way of working. Otherwise it can easily feel as if the ‘tool’ is dictating and changing your own natural working process.

So if you usually make a lot of ‘lists’, then ‘logging’ your footage by shot description may be a natural progression. Or you maybe someone who makes a lot of visual sketches, thumbnail drawings, collages, diagrams. This process needn’t only happen at the start of your edit, when you are logging the material. It can run alongside and aid the whole process. For example sheets of film stills can remind you of lateral/vertical connections between shots, which can be missed whilst cutting, as one is naturally working in a more linear way.

I’ve found it useful to work with a combination of drawn and printed thumbnails that I can make notes on and have stuck on the walls near my edit suite.
At various stages I also write large clear thematic headings to remind me of what direction I want the film to go in. These headings can be as abstract or as narrative as the film is. Some editors work with almost astrological diagrams of the structure of their edit pasted on the walls around them in the edit suite.

When working digitally, it’s also good to make the space you’re editing in suited to your own way of working. This can extend to customising the software that you’re working on. For example, most high end non-linear editing software has easily accessible options to choose how to view clips and the timeline. This can make a huge difference to your experience of editing. I worked with a stills photographer who was struggling with video editing for the first time. However, as soon as we displayed her clips as thumbnails, and she could see them as a set of still images, and re order them in her bins/folder, she began to feel in control of the edit suite and started to be able to make creative decisions.

Displaying clips as thumbnails in the bins/folders is also an easy way of printing your clips as a set of stills. These can then be used however you like – cut them up, /re-order them or draw on them). It keeps the digital and physical working together…

Logging notes for ‘Sideways’ (16mm film Lucy Harris)
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