Can you cut it? – The challenges facing the modern video editor

Can you cut it? – The challenges facing the modern video editor

Video editing, in its broadest sense, is the arranging of images and audio in such a way that it provokes an intended emotional response from the audience.

In his book, “In the Blink of an Eye”, (which has become a, sort of, film editor’s bible), legendary film editor Walter Murch settles on an even more honed definition, describing the editing process as, essentially, “cutting out the bad bits”. While this may no doubt sound like an oversimplification, there is a whole lot of truth to it. And, as Murch points out, the challenge comes from having to decide what actually constitutes a “bad bit”, because what doesn’t work for one project may be exactly what another needs.

The editing of a movie, documentary or advert, is the point at which all the preceding hard work comes together as a unified whole, bringing together the input of all crewmembers – director, camera and sound operators, actors/interviewees, music director – to create the ultimate vision. It’s where all the final calls are made, where the tone and meaning are established (the timing of a cut or choice of music can completely change the impact of a sequence) and it’s the point at which the project will become either a success or a failure.

In an advert, for example, pacing is key to building the narrative. Good editing is rhythm. It is style. It’s essentially a jigsaw puzzle with endless solutions, but only a few of those solutions have any worth (and that’s assuming that the quality of the pieces are any good in the first place). It’s difficult, no doubt about it, but when everything does come together, it’s worth it.

So – how does this all fit in with digital marketing?

The rise of video in the
digital age

Editing is important in the world of marketing because videos are important. The prevalence of video in product and brand promotion is not to be underestimated. Going digital has changed the face of editing and video production forever; the whole process is more efficient, non-linear, and, perhaps most importantly, cheaper. Thanks to the internet, the reach of a great video is almost limitless, making them a crucial element in any campaign.

The accessibility of good quality, yet affordable, video editing software and equipment has meant that even small agencies can keep up with the big league. Creativity is king, and an audience is willing to forgive low production costs if the idea connects with them on an emotional level or changes their view on a particular product or service. In fact, the popularity of the likes of YouTube and platforms such as Vine have meant that people are a lot more used to seeing amateurish, guerrilla-style filmmaking than they were a decade ago. We live in an age where a whole film can be shot on an iPhone and then released to critical acclaim and where an online vlogger can become more well-known and loved than many modern-day film actors.

Video has taken over the 21st century, and never before has it been so universally implemented.

The challenges facing a video editor in digital marketing

Within digital marketing, the principles of film editing remain exactly the same: you’re still arranging images in such an order so that you elicit the desired emotional response from your audience, but there are a few new challenges.

The omnipresence of social media has meant that it is now vital to effectively convey a strong message in as little time as possible. The multitude of media that the average person is exposed to each day makes them spoilt for choice, and the contest for their attention has never been tougher. As an editor, it’s your goal to determine the hook and to execute the idea in a way that is original yet stays true to the brand. Anyone familiar with video player platforms and free gaming will be very aware of the ‘skip’ button that becomes clickable after five seconds on most adverts. Therefore, hooking the viewer has become even more of a fine art, and it’s now crucial that the video editor gets it right.

Of course, editing is just the final step in a long, complicated process. The role of the editor relies on the hard work of all those involved in the film making process up to that point, and it’s this chain that makes video production such a collaborative process. But still, a good video editor can really make the difference between converting the viewer or losing them back to their game of Candycrush.

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