Resources on the Craft of Film Editing 2018

Resources on the Craft of Film Editing 2018

understanding film editing

It’s been a while since I’ve put together a round up of some great resources on the actual craft of film editing, so here is the first one for 2018.

There are, however some real gems in this previous post on the Understanding the Power of Film Editing, so be sure to check that out too, or the 245 posts tagged with ‘Craft’ in this list.

Michal Zak put nearly a year’s worth of work into creating this excellent video essay on the TV series Big Little Lies.

It’s exceptionally well edited, thought-through and very insightful. And even if you’ve never seen the show (which I haven’t) it’s absolutely worth the 14 minute run-time.

Just some of the topics Michal covers include:

  • Establishing Shots
  • Scene Transitions
  • Perspective
  • Empathy

Hopefully he’ll have the time to create some more video like this one!

Alan Edward Bell, A.C.E on Film Editing

Editor Alan Edward Bell, A.C.E. shares his journey into film editing (Red Sparrow, The Hunger Games, The Amazing Spider-Man, 500 Days of Summer) as well as some really valuable thoughts on film editing and developing your career as a film editor, in this interview from the team behind Master The Workflow, an online course for feature film assistant editors, which I’ve previously reviewed here.

A specific piece of gear that I came across thanks to Alan is the Logitech G-13 programmable keyboard which he uses strapped to the side of a Wacom Cintiq tablet. I take an in-depth look at it in this review.

If you’re wanting to break into assistant film editing and learn on the job just like Alan, then these two recent posts are worth a read:

If you want to learn more from Alan check out these previous posts:

If you want to learn Fusion for yourself check out this post on Getting Started with Fusion in Resolve 15.

Alan recently put together this ‘open-letter’ video to the makers of film editing software, asking them for a few useful paradigm shifts instead of more bells and whistles.

In the video Alan asks for better tools around visual organisation, project annotations, inter-links and much more.

We can only hope that some of these features find their way into the NLE editing software of the (not too distant) future.

Learning from Top Film & TV Editors

I originally included this talk from the Luma Forge Faster, Together stage at NAB 2018 in this round up of the best talks and presentations for post production professionals, but it seemed apt to include it here too.

Steve Hullfish, author of The Art of The Cut and master film editor interviewer, for’s Art of the Cut web series shares what he has absorbed from talking to 150 of the world’s best editors over the past few years. All condensed into 15 minutes!

Be confident but leave your ego at home. Bad ideas can lead to good ideas. Be careful not to let your ego get in the way of that process. Deciding what stays and goes needs to be (an inclusive) process.

Check out my full review of Steve’s brilliant paperback book based on the initial series of interviews, which is an essential read for any film editor looking to learn from some of the best!

In this excellent episode of This Guy Edits (subscribe!) Sven spends a day with TV editor Josh Beal (House of Cards, Counterpart, Bloodline and more) in his edit suite at Starz to see what it takes to cut a big TV show.

At 21 minutes it’s a longer watch than most This Guy Edit’s videos, but well worth the time. Sven and Josh cover things like:

  • The editor’s role
  • Storytelling techniques
  • The workflow on a TV show
  • The responsibility of the Assistant Editor
  • How to become a TV Editor

Interestingly Josh also did a talk at the Luma Forge booth, essentially about being open to trying new things in order to succeed, which I also included in my round up of NAB talks here.

Now comes the part where I combine both Steve Hullfish and Sven Pape by referencing part of an on-going series (The Science of Editing) from This Guy Edits, which makes the excellent work of Dr. Karen Pearlman, author of Cutting Rhythms, much more accessible.

Steve was so inspired by this video that he put together a huge essay bringing together quotes from numerous editors he has interviewed over the years, for his Art of The Cut series, to add their insights to the five-fold process that every film editor go through, as explained in the video above, to which Steve also adds a sixth:

  1. Watching
  2. Sorting
  3. Remembering
  4. Selecting
  5. Composing
  6. Patience

Both the video and written essay are well worth your time!

With nearly every scene you make changes as a result of watching the whole thing together. – Steven Sprung

Sven shared his thoughts on the 6 things that will make your editing better, at the LumaForge Faster Together booth, using clips from some recent films as illustrative examples.

His one rule for editors would be: Always tell a story, but the 6 things he discusses in his presentation are:

  1. Have a strong beginning (hook)
  2. Have a point of view
  3. Use breath to shape emotion
  4. Drama is entertaining, information is boring
  5. Contrast magnifies
  6. Empathy is stronger than symathy

If you’ve ever wanted to sit over the shoulder of an editor as they go about their editorial business then this is your lucky day.

Editor Josh Short recently posted this 40 minute video of himself editing in Adobe Premiere Pro.

It’s definitely a recommended watch for younger editors as you’ll see how he stays organised, follows a logical workflow and takes care of the details along the way.

Editing Tips from Feature Film Editor Vashi Nedomansky

Vashi Nedomansky is an excellent editor to follow on Twitter, as he’s always taking a fresh approach to looking at the craft of film editing as well as sharing his own insights on it in creative ways. One of his particular areas of interest are split diopter shots.

In these tweets Vashi shares some excellent advice for any editor to take on. He’s also created some great video essays…

This is the latest essay focusing on a ‘oner’ in Jaws and the five techniques that he feels make it work well. Sometimes knowing not to cut is the most important thing.

Jaws is definitely one of my favourite films and I’ve previously included other video essays on it in these previous posts:

One of Vashi’s latest creative projects is using DaVinci Resolve’s scene detection tool to split out every single shot in a feature film into a stunning visual mosaic.

So far he’s done this for films such as Chinatown, The Shining, Jaws, Lawrence of Arabia and several others, which you can download from his site here.

The Jaws composite image is 17,800 x 7,800 pixels and comprised of 37 individual panels.

Aside from being top-notch editing geekery, these provide a really interesting opportunity to be able to see a feature film progress in storyboard form, through the visual grouping of scenes and the progression of colour and light over its entire duration.

I’ve previously interviewed Vashi at length, as well as covered how he uses Premiere Pro to edit feature films several times and much more.

To see every post (27!) that features Vashi on this blog, hit this link.

Film Editing Inspiration

If you need some inspiration for some new editing techniques, then this video from YouTuber JR Alli is packed full of them.

There’s a fair amount of speed ramps, J cuts, sound effects and composites going on. Definitely one to download and move through frame-by-frame in a few places!

If you’ve seen any great editing lately send me a link, or hit the comments, I’m always on the look out for well cut stuff!

I really enjoyed this episode of Thomas Flight’s YouTube channel which covers a topic that’s so ordinary it becomes fascinating when you break down good and bad examples as Thomas so brilliantly does. The topic is that of editing an interview.

I also really liked the visual way in which he broke down the contribution of each shot/cut to the overall flow. I highly recommend subscribing to Thomas’ channel here!

Sight Sound and Story 2018 – Full Panels

It’s pretty rare for Sight Sound and Story to put their full panels online, in fact this is the first time I’ve seen it happen (?), so if you’ve never seen or heard of this event before you’re in a for a real treat.

In this conversation Bobbie O’Steen, author of some great books on film editing (which I’ve previously reviewed here) discusses editor Kevin Tent, ACE’s career trajectory and several of his most iconic projects, especially when working with director Alexandre Payne.

Kevin’s credits include; Election, Girl, Interrupted, Blow, About Schmidt, Sideways, The Golden Compass, The Descendants, Nebraska, Downsizing and many more.

You can also check out nicely edited nuggets from previous years, stretching all the way back to 2013, on their YouTube channel here.

In this panel from the same event Michael Berenbaum, ACE interviews two successful editors Naomi Geraghty (Billions, Bloodline, Treme) and Lynne Willingham, ACE (Breaking Bad, Ray Donovan, The X-Files)

Naomi also has some great feature film credits including; In America, Hotel Rwanda, Reservation Road and several others.

Lynne has won a prime time Emmy for her Breaking Bad pilot and the season 2 finale ABQ.

It’s a great discussion and well worth your time, to hear how these editors have navigated the business and handled the challenge of cutting top TV shows.

In this last panel Garret Savage chats with a trio of editors on tackling the free-moving monster of documentary editing, which requires it’s own unique skillset and workflow.

The editors are: Bryan Chang (Brasslands, Narco Cultura, A Year in Space), Matthew Hamachek (The Fourth Estate, Cartel Land, Amanda Knox, If a Tree Falls) and Ann Collins (Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, Swim Team, The Heart of The Matter)

In many ways if you want to advance your editing chops, tackling a documentary narrative is a great thing to wrestle with.

Sound Design Layer-by-Layer Breakdowns

If you’ve ever wanted to learn what it takes to create specific sounds and sound design effects then this series of videos from Mike James Gallagher of In Depth Sound Design is a great place to start.

In each short episode Mike takes one sound effect or scene from a major Hollywood movie and breaks down, layer by layer, what’s involved in creating the final effect, which is an ‘eye-opening’ experience.

Having watched a few, my favourite episodes are those that finish with a snippet of commentary from the sound designer involved (often sourced from the DVD commentary), and so here are few to get you started:

How to create a realistic club sound effect with 15 different stems in The Social Network.

A car chase sound design deconstructed in the Bourne Identity.

Inception’s exploding cafe scene explained from the point of view of sound design.

Seven’s creepy sound design dissected.


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