Reel Opportunities

Editor

Also known as: Picture Editor

What is an Editor?
What does an Editor do?

An Editor is in charge of “cutting” and assembling the raw footage of the film into a cohesive final product. Films tend not to be shot in the order in which the story unfolds, so Editors might be working on scenes from the end of the film before the beginning is even filmed.

Their job is to take scenes in non-story order, analyze every shot (which sometimes means hundreds of hours of footage), and meticulously select and assemble the takes that will achieve the desired emotional and thematic impact of a film.

In pre-production, Editors work closely with the Director to decide how to make the most of the script. Once filming starts, they look at the dailies each day, checking technical standards and the emerging sense of story and performance and editing it into a series of scenes. By the time the film wraps, Editors will have spent hours reworking scenes and cutting them together to create a rough assembly.

During post-production, the Editor and Director will work closely to refine the assembly edit into a Director’s cut, which must be approved by Producers, until they achieve the final cut, (also known as “picture lock”). After that, the music and sound are added to the mix, a process that Editors will oversee.

When it comes to Editors in the animation realm, the planning process is more labor intensive as no footage is produced that hasn’t been precisely planned. In live-action, Editors work with existing footage in post-production, choosing between a variety of shots. In animation, the whole film, including each of its scenes and their order, is planned out beforehand. So essentially, in animation, the editing happens first.

What's an Editor good at?
  • Storytelling

    Understand how to use pictures, rhythm, pace and tension to tell a tale

  • Visual awareness

    Have a good eye, know what look fits the style of the film

  • Using edit software

    Be adept with tools like Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premier, Final Cut and Lightworks

  • Communication

    Work well with the director, and share the process with the edit assistants and the script supervisor

  • Attention to detail

    Be patient, show attention to detail and good organizational skills, often under pressure

Who does an Editor work with?

Assistant Editor
Assistant Editors take charge of the day-to-day running of the cutting room, leaving the editor free to concentrate on editing the film. Their primary task is to communicate with other departments, like production, camera and sound. They check camera sheets when the rushes arrive and note any technical problems. Sometimes the editor asks the first assistant to do an assembly cut.

Second assistant editor, third assistant editor and edit assistants
First assistant editors might be helped by several assistants, depending on the size of the production. The assistants label files and do simple cutting, editing and sound syncing. They read oscilloscopes and audio meters, TV and video signals, are familiar with technical specifications for different broadcasters, and understand compression.

Sound Editor
Sound Editors are responsible for all sound post-production. They are the picture Editor’s main point of contact for everything concerning the production soundtracks.

ADR Recordist
The ADR Recordists have a close working relationship with the picture Editors due to script changes and replacement dialogue with the actors.

Colourist
Colourists contribute to the mood and look of a film by defining its colors. They work with the director and director of photography to decide the palette.

How do I become an Editor?

The traditional route to becoming an Editor is to start as a Production Assistant and go on to become an assistant editor. It’s common to work as an Assistant Editor in lower budget productions before moving into feature films.
Here are some more tips:

Educational Requirements: A program in Media or Film studies, concentrating on post-production, is useful. Experience using editing software is key, as is working on small projects to build your portfolio.

Get an internship: Internships are jobs with training, so they’re a great opportunity to earn while you learn. Before taking any apprenticeship, check what you’ll be learning with your prospective employer and college, so you can be sure it will be giving you the skills you want.

Edit: Make videos. Set up a YouTube channel showing off your work.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Professional Organizations Associated With This Role

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