Inside The Edit Reviewed
I’ve reviewed Inside The Edit several times on this blog and I’ve recommended it as an integral part of my Alternative Film School for Film Editors because it is an incredible resource for any one looking to learn the art, craft, psychology and technique of documentary film editing.
Inside the Edit have also been kind enough to extend the readers of this blog a discount on the course, via the promo code JONNYELWYN20, which saves you 20% on the entire cost of the course on annual and lifetime subscriptions, or 20% off the cost of your first month’s subscription.
Part of what makes it a cut above (excuse the pun) other film editing courses online is the depth of the content and the high level of expertise Paddy Bird has in the edit suite.
The ramblings of a Youtube edit jockey this ain’t.
In this post I thought I’d take another look at some of the later, more advanced tutorials, and share a few thoughts on why this course is an excellent investment for experienced editors looking to learn more about their craft, even if they’ve been in the game for a while.
What is Inside The Edit?
As a quick recap before we dive in, Inside the Edit is the brain child, and labour of love of editor Paddy Bird, whose credits include working for some of the US and UK’s biggest channels.
Paddy has worked on multiple seasons of many of the world’s most renowned format shows including X Factor, Big Brother, Wife Swap and Secret Millionaire while at the same time editing numerous high-end political, historical and observational documentaries. – Inside The Edit, Paddy Bird bio
Inside the Edit is an online video editing course that pairs detailed editing tutorials with 35 hours of follow along documentary rushes to help you absorb and apply the necessary skills required to edit compelling narratives.
Along with those 35 hours of rushes for the documentary, Cities At Dawn, you also get access to the directors notes, script, footage logs and creative tasks for each tutorial chapter to help keep you on track.
The course bills itself as 100% creative, eschewing the technical ‘push this button’ material found in other courses, in favour of storytelling principles, editing insights and methods for dramatically improving the quality of everything you edit there after.
It’s not a course for those hoping to learn without doing, and you’ll definitely only get out of what it what you put in, but it’s incredible value for money, especially when you consider the alternatives of in-person training and overpriced student film schools.
If you’re serious about learning film editing, you should seriously consider Inside The Edit.
You can read my initial review of Inside The Edit here, which includes many of the free tutorials they’ve released so far.
You can also read more about Inside the Edit in my follow up post, featuring more free tutorials here too.
You can also check out my detailed blue-print for creating an Alternative Film School for Film Editors, which includes a ton of free resources too, here.
Inside The Edit – Lessons From the Advanced Tutorials
Although Inside The Edit has been around for a few years now, the reason a continuing subscription (or life-time membership) is worth having is that new content is added to the site on a regular basis, such as things like Metamorphosis and Outside The Edit.
The course and it’s homework is so often so involved and meticulously executed that you won’t get through everything in a month, or three, anyway, even if you tried. This self-paced learning also helps if you’re working through this on the side too.
In this portion of the post I want to pull out three quick lessons from the later chapters of Inside The Edit which cover topics such as:
- 7. Pace and Timing
- 8. Cutting Actuality
- 9. Intercutting
- 10. Creating Professional Sync
- 11. Embracing Problems
The Value of The Early Days
The only way to learn editing is to cut, and to cut a lot.
You just need to rack up a lot of mileage in the edit suite in order to start to develop your editing instincts and find your creative voice. I remember early on in my editing career a director empowering me with self-belief when it came to trusting my instincts on what to cut out and what to keep in, when he told me “If you don’t find it interesting, why would anyone else?“
Up until that point I’d been pretty shy about asserting my own creative authority on where to take a project. That he trusted me to decide helped me trust myself to decide.
If you’re still in the trenches of the early days of your career and working on less than perfect footage, then take heart from Paddy has to share about the value of these early days in Chapter 11 of the course which focuses on ’embracing problems’:
We should embrace bad footage, problems, errors, low-quality sync and imagery. They force us to edit our way out of a corner. They accelerate our creative abilities and they teach us a huge amount about the realities of scene construction.
We learn as much from failures and sometimes more, than from successes. We store them up and accumulate a vast mental directory of possible corrections, styles and genres.
So although the old adage of ‘you can’t polish a turd’ still stands true, you can at least learn to roll it in sparkles. And that is invaluable.
Taking things that didn’t work at the time of filming and reconstructing them into something that does is unbelievably rewarding. But above all makes us stand out as creative editors.
One of the things that I really love about the course and it’s design is that it’s really not in a hurry.
It’s thoughtful, meticulous but ultimately very easy to follow as result, especially when breaking down complex editing concepts, such as how to control and refine the pacing of your edit.
It sounds like a simple thing to do; explain that every genre has it’s own pacing and every scene within an edit has it’s own particular pace and that managing a tempo arc across a sequence of scenes is required to make the show really shine.
But when you break it down into step by step components you realise that it’s actually very difficult, and you really can spend nearly four and half hours talking about it across 9 unique lessons in the 7th Chapter of the course. This is what I mean about Inside The Edit’s unparalleled depth. It also requires a similar investment on the part of the editor too.
But where else are you going to learn these kind of detailed editing concepts, for a few hundred quid?
Anyway, the ability to learn to control time within an edit is one of the biggest differences I see between junior editors and experienced artists.
The emotional impact of a film, whatever type of film it may be, relies on engaging an audience by avoiding sluggish boredom yet allowing crucial moments to breathe and really land with the viewer to create a lasting impression.
Part of the problem with improving your editing abilities, especially if you’re self taught or just starting out, is that you don’t know what you don’t know. This is also true of semi-experienced editors, in that they know enough to be create something, but not enough to know what they need to work on to get better.
You need a way to see your work with fresh eyes and ears in order to see the flaws in it, so you can fix them.
Most often you can get this kind of feedback from more experienced producers and directors, but if they don’t have your growth and development at heart, they might not be in a ‘nurturing mood’ to take you through it in detail.
This is one of the ways in which Inside The Edit’s thoughtful pacing and methodology really shines.
For example, in the chapter on controlling time, part of those four and half hours is spent watching rough cuts, analysing their problem areas and re-watching the improved edits. This all takes time, but its worth it.
This analysis is brought to life through things like the timeline highlighter graphics (see gif above) which help you track what’s going on in the timeline and the viewer. But it’s also a way to watch a rough cut through the eyes of a far more experienced editor who can point out the pitfalls to stop you falling into them, time and again.
What Intercutting is really about
In the chapter on intercutting, you can actually learn a whole lot more about one of the essential elements of editing, and the source of it’s immense power; putting one thing next to another.
This sounds incredibly simplistic but if you think about something like the Kuleshov effect (explained above by Sven Pape of This Guy Edits), then you start to see that cutting between two sets of material can create drastically different results.
Paddy dedicates a whole chapter of the course to the discipline of intercutting, looking at various scenarios and the key concepts to consider at play in each scenario.
He therefore breaks down five different groups of intercutting possibilities, for example intercutting between interview material and B-roll, or interviews and actuality, to name two. At the end of the first tutorial in the chapter, he introduces three words that are at the heart of what this aspect of editing is all about:
- Juxtaposition – Two things been seen or placed close together with contrasting effect
- Comparison – A consideration of the similarities or dissimilarities between two things or people
- Contrast – The state of being strikingly different from something else in close association
It’s important to give a decent amount of thought to these words and their effects when you’re choosing which material to intercut between.
What does it say to the viewer when you put those two particular shots together? And is it the right thing to say for purpose of the scene?
Can you create a more surprising or engaging response by cutting to something else?
This bring us to what intercutting is really about; structure.
As an editor you’re bringing two separate narrative elements together to build one seamless result in the mind of the audience.
This means you need to be in control of the narrative elements and the type of material they are. So, does the interview soundbite, it’s content, emotion and pace work with the B-roll footage it’s intercutting with and it’s content, emotion, pace?
The most obvious way to see this at work, is when it doesn’t work well.
Young editors often just wallpaper B-roll over the cuts in interview material, with no real regard to when they come out of the soundbite, or why we’re now looking at the thing we’re looking at. The rationale was only; I just need to hide the jump cut.
When intercutting is well crafted and constructed the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 2+2 starts to equal 5, in the mind of the audience.
I could bang on about this for a while, but you’re better off just working through the chapter yourself!