Here are the 5 things you need to know to become a professional editor:
1. Know your resources:
When working with clients it is often the case that you wont be provided with all the elements you’ll need for the edit. And, when you’re starting out, finding footage, music and sound effects to use in your edits can be tricky; so its crucial to know how to access royalty/copyright free content.
As companies utilise social media more and more, the ‘share-ablity’ of content is paramount. Avoiding copyrighted media will help you avoid any issues when it comes time to share your final edit.
This is a good practice for new editors to get into before progressing to a stage where either every element in your project is provided to you or, you are in a position to pay for copyrighted media.
2. Analyse everything:
Eventually this will become second nature to you as an editor but until it does, you should make a conscious decision to analyse every film/tv show/YouTube video/trailer and any other media you watch, all from an editing perspective.
What did you like? What didn’t you like? What would you have done differently? How did they achieve that effect? Why did they choose to cut there?
By finding out what you don’t like, you can apply this to your own edits and know what to avoid doing.
3. Be adaptable:
Freelance editors will work on a variety of different projects throughout their careers- and many editors work on varying client projects in order to fund passion projects that they work on in their free time.
Being adaptable to work in different genres/styles/projects gives you greater opportunity to work with more clients, and will help you fund the projects that are close to your heart.
Adaptability is also applicable to editing software; while there are a small number of industry standard NLE systems (Non-Linear Editing) used by professionals- the software is always changing and enhancing to be the most widely used.
Keeping up with which software is currently most popular and ensuring that you have a good foundation of knowledge on a variety of these systems, will put you ahead of other freelance editors and, once again, give you the opportunity to work with more clients.
I explored some of these NLE systems and the future of editing in this research video.
4. Know your personality:
A career as a professional editor means long hours in an editing suite, on your own. It therefore makes sense that people who are more introverted and people who get their energy from being by themselves would be well suited to this job.
This however does not mean that extroverted people wouldn’t also be just as well suited; The difference would be that, if you find you get your energy from being surrounded by other people, then it is paramount your achieve this in your downtime.
Figuring out your personality will help you know how best to organise your workload and your free time to ensure you don’t burn out.
Like any other skill, becoming a professional editor takes practice. The beauty of editing just for your own personal practice, is that you can practice on anything; Download online videos, use old footage from past projects, even videos you’ve taken on your phone.
The content of these videos isn’t particularly important- it’s what you do with them. You can use these videos to help get you used to your editing software, try to recreate a transition that you saw in that TV show you were watching or play around with colour and music to change the genre of the video.
Practice and experimentation is never wasted time.
By Lori Smith