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Professional Video Editor

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James NavarroProfessional Video Editor
by on Sep 30, 2009 at 8:30:18 am

Hello, I am new to Creative Cow but have stumbled upon the website before for FCP tutorials. I have been interested in becoming a professional video editor, but have not taken any formal classes to obtain real training. So, I have FC Studio and have been editing videos for people. I can put videos and pictures together okay, but nothing really special. I wish to advance and get better, but classes are limited where I live or very expensive.
I was interested in any kind of advice in pursuing this profession such as what programs to learn, was anybody self taught and what steps did they take, how many years did it take to become a professional, what a typical day for a video editor is like, the jobs that are performed, salary, etc. Any kind of advice and feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time and help!

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Mark SuszkoRe: Professional Video Editor
by on Sep 30, 2009 at 3:06:02 pm

James, is your friend; browse their used books and videos. I would suggest if you never got any formal Tv training, pick up a used copy of a college TV textbook, any edition of Zettl is good, I think. Just to build a bit of a foundation, understand. Then move on to editing-specific books. The editing books by Walter Murch are a popular favorite, but by no means the only ones.

The COW has a ton of free tutorial materials and links. You can also find some at Video University as well as the DJTV section of Digitaljuice. These are all free.

Learn to watch TV and movies critically. Watch the DVD with the sound off, and make notes on the angles used and when and how the editor chose to switch them. Attempt to guess which camera will switch when. Watch soap operas with the sound off, just look at how the sots are framed and the timing of the cuts, look for the rythms in it. Do the same thing with talk shows.

Those are all free things that will help you, but you have to do more, you have to do things hands-on. Take what you're learning from these resources and make up some projects to practice the techniques with. It doesn't need to be fancy at all, simple home camcorder footage or scraps of things taken off Tv will do, just get some raw material together and start working with it. Nobody will ever see this but you. Shoot two people talking and re-cut it. Practice things like L-cuts, cuts where the video or sound changes independently with a time offset. Practice the art of montage, taking two separate images and juxtaposign their order to derive a new, third meaning from them. Practice simple frame-matching between a wide shot of soemthign and a close-up of it.

The more you do, the better you get. I suggest you do a few month's of this, up to a year of this before you take a paid class. The short classes are mostly to teach you what button does what, but not WHY. The WHY and HOW are what people actually pay us money for, anybody can just push buttons.

Best wishes and good luck.

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James NavarroRe: Professional Video Editor
by on Sep 30, 2009 at 6:28:49 pm

Mark! Thank you very much for your feedback, I appreciate it so much. It's been difficult to find guidance, now I have a plan and idea where to start. Thank you again!

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Emre Tufekci S.O.A.Re: Professional Video Editor
by on Sep 30, 2009 at 7:36:44 pm

Best source for learning online:

$25 a month, but enough material to keep you busy for a decade.

Emre Tufekci

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Ron LindeboomRe: Professional Video Editor
by on Sep 30, 2009 at 9:07:48 pm

[Mark Suszko] "Learn to watch TV and movies critically. Watch the DVD with the sound off..."

And when you get really good at it, try watching with both the sound and the picture turned off.

Now that's what really separates the men from the boys.


Ron Lindeboom

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Mark SuszkoRe: Professional Video Editor
by on Sep 30, 2009 at 10:12:13 pm

Ah, the zen method, Ron, yes, but that's only for Ph.D.'s you know.

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Richard HerdRe: Professional Video Editor
by on Sep 30, 2009 at 10:15:25 pm

[Ron Lindeboom] "try watching with both the sound and the picture turned off." That's called writing!

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Stephen SmithRe: Professional Video Editor
by on Oct 1, 2009 at 9:13:37 pm

I think a great thing to do, would be to do an internship at a production company that does similar work to what you would like to do. You will pick up some real world skills and more importunely, you would make some good contacts. Also, you would learn if this is what you really want to do. Making a movie for fun in your backyard is different then working on a set for 12 hours 6 days a week. Or then creating a video for a client who has strong options and doesn't give you full rain over creativity... and the list goes on. Me personally, I think I have the best job in the word. Best of luck in your pursuit.

Stephen Smith
Utah Video Productions

Check out the Graphics Demo Reel I did.

Check out my Motion Tutorials

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