Private: Video Editor (music editor, assistant editor)

Video editors cut and assemble filmed footage into a cohesive finished product.

At the end of shooting, every film project is a staggering pile of footage. Each time a director yells "cut" on set, the camera stops recording, and the clip ends.  An editor is the person responsible for taking these pieces and stringing them together into something resembling a movie. Projects shot on analog film must be physically cut and assembled into a final reel,  which can then be played back in order. These days, the majority of projects are filmed digitally, meaning that the assembly process occurs in a digital workspace. Video editing is both artistic and technical, but the amount of freedom an editor has depends on the project. Narrative films often undergo changes between writing and shooting, but their structure is roughly determined by a predetermined story arc. In contrast, editors of documentary projects and unscripted work are more likely to make narrative choices and discoveries over the course of a project.

There are several distinct types of editors who focus on different pieces of the filmmaking process. Trailer editors select and cut together short sequences made up of footage from completed films to entice audiences into seeing them. Colorists painstakingly adjust the colors of each shot to match a particular scheme or mood. Music and sound editors are responsible for placing and layering songs and sound effects, as well adjusting dialogue and overall levels. Assistant editors may be responsible for anything from organizing and formatting files to creating full-length sequences and marking stand-out moments, depending on the level of support the editor they work with needs.

Video editing work may include...

  • Using software to cut, manipulate, and arrange footage
  • Working closely with directors to craft an arc
  • Processing and organizing raw footage
  • Creating, reviewing, and adjusting sequences
  • Incorporating and placing audio and video tracks

These days, it seems like everyone has a video editor. Commercials, social media ads, music videos, web content, feature films, and more can be put together using software that is becoming more and more accessible. However, getting paid to do editing work often requires some time working for a production company, post-production house, or ad agency. Many editors start as junior, assistant or apprentice editors, though some with demonstrable experience and an impressive reel may find editing work right off the bat.

Video editing requires an array of specific technical skills that can be hard to come by without formal training and access to resources.

While it's possible to learn editing independently, especially as user-friendly video apps and editing programs emerge, most of these are not industry standard. Those looking to develop their sense of timing can benefit from informal editing experience, but it may not prepare them to deal with files, uploads, or projects with numerous tracks. As a result, most filmmakers learn the craft in school, where they may work to edit their own footage or the student films of their classmates. Learning to organize video files is a complex skill that takes time to master, and many editors learn tricks of the trade on the job after entering the workforce.

If you're a digital wizard interested in how things fit together best, think about pursuing a career in video editing.

The Editors Guild - IATSE Local 700 is a national labor organization and branch of IATSE representing post-production professionals.

American Cinema Editors aims to advance the art and science of the film editing profession.