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Where the story takes shape, whether it be linear or flashbacks or something else entirely. The director has the eye for the story but the editor makes that story understandable and adds the finishing touches, combining the footage, sound, effects and animation. 


The process of arranging shots of required length in order for the story

colour grading

Taking the footage and matching the colour sources to create a seamless product 


Editing jargon most commonly used


People will notice if something doesn't flow within a film (costume, prop placement etc) 



An 'invisible art', editing is the arrangement of sound, audio mixing, computer generated effects and soundtrack creations. All these elements are combined once film production has finished to create a seamless story.

Always shoot with the edit in mind. Film with different sized shots. Film cutaways. 

Many film editors are faced with hours of footage to go through, but spare a thought for the editor of Apocalypse Now (1979) Walter Murch, was was handed a 95:1 ratio (for every 1 minute of used film 95 minutes were unused, meaning 242 hours of footage for the eventual 153 minute film were looked through and "left on the cutting room floor". 

Edwin S. Porter first introduced editing techniques in the form of Ellipsis and Cross Cutting. 

"Ellipsis is the assumption that the viewer will be able to piece together parts of an ongoing story without seeing a part or hearing words, and the omission makes no difference to the story. Or it can be used for example to create mystery.

Cross cutting or parallel editing shows what happens in two locations at the same time, and cuts between these two stories only, which usually interweave and result in a climactic ending for the scene".

There are many keywords in editing:


Video and film edited by the Editor


Dialogue (production sound) edited


All recorded 

  •  Music tracks

  • Composed songs

  • Sound effects

Mixed into ‘stems’ - married to the picture


Computer - graphics/visual effects digitally added



  • The best cuts are the ones you don’t see, the best sound mixes are the ones you don’t notice. 

  • The audience should remain behind the storyteller and not overtake them.

  • The length of a shot edit must allow for the information in that shot to be viewed. Slower paced shots have fewer cuts and flow more, faster paced shots has shorter shots and more cuts.

  • Don’t use all shots just because you have them. Pace and rhythm are more important. A story needs peaks and troughs, slow and fast parts, anticipation and variety to keep it flowing.

  • Structure comes before fine tuning cuts, so lay that out first. When something is not used it is said to go on the cutting room floor, don’t be scared to lose shots. 

  • Scene cards can really help with a visual reference to structure. Move these around on the wall in front of you and save time in an edit

Editing Steps

Film: Rarely used these days. Film on 8 or 16mm, cut the tape and splice together with film equipment like a steenbeck. Film can be telecined (digitised - scanned to a digital format) to work with electronic editing software.

Digital: Much more common. Shoot on a video camera, digitise the footage. 

An Editor reads the script and watches the rushes and creates an Edit Decision List (EDL). They then have an enormous amount of creative control in making the film story look better by editing it together. If you have an editor in place before shooting begins, they can advise on shots to get to help tell your story, and consult on any post production issues that could arise.

A feature edit takes around 8-10 weeks. As with many creative products there are various draft stages: from the first Rough Cut to the final Answer Print. The two elements must be agreed before it is finished, the visual picture lock and the sound lock.

For a musical score, the tips are to hire musicians to create your own original score, that you then have the rights to. Licensed music would need the rights purchasing. Public domain music costs money and is not always great. CD pre-cleared music is not of high quality to match the video quality of today’s cameras. The best way to secure music is to create your own for the production. Or folks like Moby help students out be providing free music

Re-Recording/Mix The layering of all the sounds (ADR, dialogue, music, foley) creates depth and the sound mix. Hence the cue sheets from before help with these multiple numbers of tracks.

M&E is the name of the sound track with only music and effects on it. This is used when a foriegn nation needs a copy of your film they can dub their own dialogue over.

Titles come after the edit for the answer print. Six to eight opening card titles and one rear title crawl are needed, which are added to the master track containing everything.

Digital Cinema Package or DCP For delivery the final copy of the film is encoded and put onto a hard drive to play in cinemas.

A dialogue script is needed for foreign markets as it will be set to timecode so that a dubbing artist or subtitler can place their dialogue in the correct places.

A campaign image is the one image that shows off your film. It contains titles and credits and is used by distributors and film festivals to sell your film.

A trailer of around 90-120 seconds sets the atmosphere and mood for your film and helps with placing it within a festival program or with decisions about distribution.

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colour grading


Colour correction is the preparation of footage or imagery to improve the appearance for viewing on different devices. Once performed using filters on film when copying the footage, today it is a mainly digital process using software like DaVinci Resolve. Vectorscopes and waveforms are used to correct the look of film footage, but there are no set rules. For example, The Matrix Trilogy (SciFi) has a heavy green tint, Wes Anderson prefers an orange tint to his films, The Sixth Sense and Schindler's List use red to highlight fear and a character respectively. Monster's Inc uses blue to show sad times in the film. 


Colour grading is an important process to match up the colour evenly throughout a production. With LUTs available in camera and many shooting in RAW this gives more creativity in post, e.g. red for horror, green for sci fi. Many directors create a mood board to show the visual direction before a production. A moodboard is a a collage of images that inspire your film and to aim towards.

The 3 important aspects for colour grading are:

  1. Hue – the colour

  2. Saturation – the colour intensity

  3. Value – how dark or light a colour is

Pinterest is a great way to collect ideas for a moodboard... where you can create a collection of ideas and a colour palette to work towards for a creative look.

If you want to learn more about film colours before digital the website has a timeline and examples from films like Jaws (1975) and Alien (1079)

Studiobinder offer a great free pdf download that explains in depth about colour in film, available here:



This is a huge part of delivering a good film... making sure actors, props, set design and costumes all add up in the editing process, by filming it correctly in the first place. If an actor waves with their right hand in a wide shot they must use that same hand to wave again in a close up shot for example.


There are 4 main parts to continuity:

  • Acting continuity

  • Props Continuity

  • Costume Continuity

  • 180 Line

Actors should replace any costumes they are wearing if they remove anything for a break for example. Hair and makeup should stay the same until all camera angles have been shot. Any props used should be used in exactly the same manner for every shot. 

The 180 line rule stresses that the cameras must all be placed on one side of an imaginary line, in the case of an interview this would be on one side (but the opposite sides) of the actors looking at each other. This stops the viewer feeling like they are switching sides of the action. 


Since the move from film to digital, the role of a Digital Image Transfer or DIT is an ever changing one. A Data Wrangler takes care of the cards and downloading the digital footage. A DIT is more advanced, they work throughout pre-production, liaising with the cinematographer to create a Colour Decision List (CDL) and the Look Up Tables (LUTs) so that the colours with work across the digital equipment and displays. They work with and maintain the entire digital imaging process.

Some DITs have a DIT cart, an advanced setup including card readers, vector-scopes, computers, colour balanced monitors, RAID drives etc. This is usually set up in a tent so that they can have a dark space to watch the footage, and they can also check for errors like lens glare and out of focus shots.  

The files are logged and transcoded to the file types requested, with uncompressed files sent to the editors and compressed H.264 files for the dailies which are viewed on handheld devices. 

Andy Shipsides from AbelCine ( has a great video web series on the set up of a high end DIT cart here:

For more budget filmmakers it is worth looking into backups for your files. Of course, when film turned to digital it was easy to just film everything, but now the quality hikes result in huge data files, it can be difficult to store this much data, especially for documentaries. For example the 360 degree videos in the Videos tab of this website require that original footage is stored, along with the stitched footage and the final edit, which is around 60GB for one 15 minute video at 5.7K and 170mbps bitrate for the highest quality.


When working with big files it is essential to log and back up your work as you will be reusing your camera cards regularly during a shoot. Hard drives are a must (although they need to be assessed at future points to see that they still with with modern equipment and potentially upgraded) and a cloud based option like Dropbox or pCloud are a good idea. These do cost but are a cost that need factoring into a shoot, and may make filmmakers think more about their shots rather than filming everything (also think of the Editor and all the footage they would end up with to trawl through!).



5.1 – a six-channel surround sound audio system (comprising three front speakers, two rear speakers and a subwoofer). Currently the most commonly used audio configuration domestically and commercially


​A/B editing – the process of combining two or more sources of footage with transition effects

AIFF – Audio Interchange File Format, developed by Apple and used on iOS systems.

Alpha channel – A channel used in graphics software for saving additional information to define transparent areas used for superimpositions and keying. Used in techniques such as animation. Also known as alpha mask


​Analogue – An older, lower resolution video and/or audio source which, when holding material to be edited using current technology, must be digitised. Degradation is common when duplicating analogue material from one generation to another

Animate – The action of moving and/or manipulating a graphic or object (such as a slide, a photo with caption or a title) or to transition between frames

Anamorphic – Shooting or storing widescreen video on media with a non-widescreen native aspect ratio. Widescreen pictures are ‘squeezed’ horizontally and stored in a 4:3 shape. The squeezed or distorted image is later ‘stretched’ by an anamorphic projection lens (such as a DVD player) to recreate the original aspect ratio for display on a viewing screen

Anti-alias – smoothing out or removing jagged edges (also known as a ‘stair-step’ appearance) or motion between points within graphic elements, such as titles and 3D objects

Aspect ratio – the shape of a picture or frame (‘ratio’ refers to the ratio of the width of the image to its height). Common aspect ratios are 4:3 (former standard television aspect ratio, also known as 1.33:1) and 16:9 (widescreen). Others include 2.35:1, which results in a ‘letterbox’ effect

Assemble edit/assembly edit – one of the stages of editing, also known as the ‘rough cut’ or ‘editor’s cut’, in which shots are assembled sequentially in a strictly linear fashion

Attenuate – to reduce volume

Audio Effects palette – a feature within Adobe Premiere that presents a list of available audio effects, sorted according to type, that can be customised

Audio lag - A split edit which is used to extend a clip’s audio over the beginning of the video clip that follows (so that the first clip’s audio cuts after the video)

Audio lead –A split edit which lays the start of a clip’s audio over the end of the preceding clip’s video. Used as a lead-in to the visual transition

Audio Mixer window – a feature within Adobe Premiere that monitors and controls the volume level and balance of multiple audio tracks

Audio waveform – Graphical representation of an audio clip’s signal levels

AVI – Audio Video Interleaved (or Audio Video Interleave), a multimedia container format (ie contains both audio and video data) introduced by Microsoft




​Balance – Distribution of two audio channels

Bandpass effects – Audio effects intended to remove ‘noise’ (ie, specific frequencies that manifest as hisses and hums) from audio clips

Batch capture – caching or ingesting a group of clips in a single, automated action rather than capturing them individually

Bin window – The window, within Adobe Premiere, that’s used to import and organise source clips

Bit stream – Video/audio data that has been compressed and/or is transmitted from one device to another

Blue screen – Also known as green screen: a special effects technique in which a background with a specific colour, typically within a studio, that is matched with a chroma key  so that it can be ‘replaced’ with another video layer


Caption –Text that identifies a location or person

CBR – Constant Bit Rate, the compression rate at which each unit of input material is always compressed to the same output size. Useful for streaming multimedia content on limited capacity channels

Channel – the components of a clip, be it audio (eg, left and right channels) or video (eg, alpha channel)

Chroma key – A special effects procedure. See Blue screen, above

Chrominance – The element of a video signal that conveys colour, typically split into two components: U = B′ − Y′ (blue − luma) and V = R′ − Y′ (red − luma)

Codec – short for compressor/decompressor. Technology for compressing (encoding) and decompressing (decoding) data, codecs can be implemented in software, hardware or both

Commands palette – A small floating window within Adobe Premiere containing a customisable list of preset commands

Composite video – A video signal that combines brightness and colour

Component video – A video signal that comprises three separate components

Compositing – Superimposing, or overlaying, multiple layers of digital video (each may move independently), a facility found in painting, drawing and graphics applications

Compress – to reduce the size of a digital file. Data/content that has been compressed must be decompressed for playback. Compression systems include MPEG, JPEG and DV

Continuity – The  logical progression of recorded or edited events which requires attention to on-screen items such as costume, props and sets

Crawl – A scrolling line of text usually at the bottom of the screen. Also known as a ticker

Cross-fade –A smooth transition during which one clip fades out as the following one fades in

Cut –An instant transition between clips, the most basic edit

Cutaway –A shot of something related to the principal action, often used to hide another edit


Data rate – The speed at which data is transferred between devices. Also known as bit rate

Decompress – to restore a digital file to its original size

Deinterlace – the process of correcting interlaced video in which each frame contains alternating pairs of lines from two separate fields. The error manifests as a visible ‘shuddering’ of the picture when viewed. De-interlacing uses every other line from one field and interpolates new in-between lines without tearing

Delay – An audio effect that causes a sound to echo

Dissolve – A transition, similar to the cross-fade, in which a clip gradually fades into the next

Dolby Digital – The standard audio format on DVDs, HD TV and digital cable and satellite transmission

DPP – the Digital Production Partnership, an initiative formed by public service broadcasters based in the UK and Ireland, which seeks to standardise television’s technical delivery requirements

Dub – To duplicate a file or other piece of content, traditionally from a master tape to another tape

Duration – the length, or running time, of a clip or production

DVE – Digital Video Effect(s): the modification of a picture (eg by ‘squeezing’ from one side), often used at the conclusion of a programme by broadcasters to reveal (advertise) a menu or other item that may be following or broadcast at a later time or date

Dynamic range – the difference between the quietest and loudest sounds in a clip or production. Can be decreased (compressed) or expanded.


Edit – The post-production process of rearranging, adding and/or removing audio and/or video clips in a predetermined sequence

Effect– A device used to enhance, alter, improve, distort or otherwise amend a pre-existing clip

Editline – The editor’s current editing point in the Timeline, as displayed in the Monitor window and used for inserts and deletes

Export – The process of saving a piece of work to an external device or as a file to be used on another device


Fade – A gradual transition from a clip to or from a black or white full-frame

Field – For interlaced video sources, a full frame is constructed from alternating odd and even lines from two video fields captured at slightly different times

FPS – Frames per second: the number of frames that are shown on a screen per second.  PAL and SECAM video are delivered to the screen at 25 FPS, NTSC video at 30 FPS. Cinema films run at 24 FPS

Frames – Individual video images that comprise a moving sequence

Frame rate –Playback speed

Four-point edit – A method of setting in-points and out-points to control where and how frames are inserted into a timeline

Freeze frame – A technique in which a particular frame of video is held, for example at the end of a sitcom, where the action is ‘frozen’ just after delivery of the final punchline


Gain – Volume of the audio output

Gamma – A setting used to adjust the brightness of the mid-tones of an image

Gang – To adjust multiple audio tracks simultaneously (as in the Premiere Audio Mixer window)

Garbage matte – A mask used in a keying operation to remove unwanted objects within a frame

Generation loss – Degradation in the quality of video and/or audio due to duplication from an original analogue recording

Gradient – The gradual change from one colour or level of intensity to another


History palette – Another feature of Adobe Premiere that’s presented in a floating window, the history palette displays the editor’s latest actions. The ‘undo’ feature returns a clip or file to a previous state

Hz – Hertz, a measurement used for audio sampling




Import – A method used to bring media files into a current working platform or application

In-point – The starting point of a clip, marked by a specific timecode

Info palette – Another feature of Adobe Premiere that’s presented in a floating window, the info palette displays that displays information about a selected clip or transition.

Insert edit – An edit where the some or all of the original video and audio are replaced with new footage

Interlaced video –Frames of video that consist of alternating lines taken from two separate fields captured at slightly different times (which are then interlaced or interleaved into the alternating odd and even lines of the full video frame).

Interpolate – Creating smooth transitions for video effects by creating gradual steps between multiple keyframes




Jog – The practice of spooling slowly through footage or a clip

Jump cut – An abrupt, sudden and/or unnatural transition between two shots which feature the same subject




Key – To specify a region of an image or video clip to be used as a mask for transparency (in order to make part of the scene transparent or semitransparent and composite it with other superimposed images or video tracks)

Keyframe – A keyframe is a single still image in an animated sequence that occurs at an important point in that sequence. Keyframes are defined throughout an animated sequence in order to define pivotal points of motion before the frames in between are drawn or otherwise created to ‘tween’ the motion between the two keyframes.




Layering – Adding (superimposing) multiple layers of video

Linear editing – Analogue, tape-based editing, so-called because clips are laid in a line along the tape

Log – A list of clips which comprise a longer sequence and are identified by in- and out-points

Lossless – A compression system which retains all the original video and audio data and does not degrade video and/or sound quality. A compression system that removes some of this original information – in order to reduce the size of the data – is known as lossy (eg, JPEG and MP3)

Luminance – The intensity or brightness of a video signal, usually represented by the letter Y




Marker – A placeholder used to mark a specific timecode in a clip or sequence

Mask – A technique used to selectively obscure or hold back parts of an image while allowing other parts to show, for example, a selection might be laid over another layer or turned into an alpha channel

Master – the original video or audio source, or finished media from which copies are made

Matte – combining two or more image elements into a single, final image. Usually used to combine a foreground image with a background image

Mic – Microphone audio input

MiniDV – Popular camcorder video format

Monitor – Video: A display unit similar to a television set but with superior visual quality and without a tuner; Audio: a speaker

Mono – Monophonic audio, ie a single channel of audio

Motion blur – The effect of blurring the background behind a speeding object

MPEG – (abbreviation for Moving Picture Experts Group) A set of standards used for coding audio/video data in a compressed format


NAS – Network-attached storage

Navigator palette – A small window within Premiere that displays a small view of the current Timeline work area within the overall programme

Non-linear editing (NLE) – Digital, computer-based, non-destructive editing, so-called because a hard drive allows the easy arrangement of clips in any order

NTSC – (abbreviation for National Television Standards Committee) The television broadcasting system used in North America and Japan, producing pictures made up of 525 alternating lines for each frame of video (60 fields/30 frames per second)




Opaque – Areas of a superimposed image that are solid – not transparent – and therefore cover underlying images

Out-point – The endpoint of a clip, marked by a specific timecode

Overscan – The outer edges of a video image that are typically cut off by consumer

television sets to ensure that the image fills the entire display


PAL – (abbreviation for Phase Alternating Line) The television broadcasting system used in most of Europe, producing pictures made up of 625 alternating lines for each frame of video (50 fields/25 frames per second)

Pan – Positioning a mono audio track between the left and right stereo channels

Pan and scan – a method of adjusting widescreen film images so that they can be shown within the proportions of a standard definition 4:3 aspect ratio television screen, often cropping off the sides of the original widescreen image to focus on the material’s most important aspects

Pan-and-zoom – A technique to create moving video from high-resolution still images

Picture-in-picture – A special effects technique in which two video images are combined and displayed simultaneously, one being reduced in size or cropped and placed within the frame of the other

Pixels – The elements (dots) that make up a digital image or video frame

Pre-roll – the segment of tape or part of a media file that precedes the material, intended to get the tape up to speed before the programme appears

Project file – The media file that is created when edit work is saved, the extension of which is determined by the software being used. Work created using Premiere, for example, will  be saved as .ppj files

Project window – The main Premiere window, in which an editor may import, save and organise clips


Render – Creating a production in its final form or creating a special effect, animation or editing task

Resolution – The dimensions, in pixels, of an image, usually expressed as the number of horizontal pixels by the number of vertical pixels

Reverb – An audio effect used to create, to varying degrees, reverberation

Reversioning – Can include a range of tasks, such as down-converting from HD, editing to change the duration and adding breaks, converting to 4:3 from 16:9 or ice versa, changing graphics, altering the voiceover and remixing, updating the clock and providing viewing DVDs of the programme

RGB – Red, green, blue. Full-colour video signal format consisting of three elements

Ripple edit – Inserting material between clips that have already been edited together with the effect that those existing clips adjust automatically to accommodate the new ones

Rolling edit – Adjusting and trimming two adjacent clips

Rough cut– one of the stages of editing, also known as the ‘assembly edit’ or ‘editor’s cut’, in which shots are assembled sequentially in a strictly linear fashion

Rushes – Raw footage




Safe area/safe zone – Margins around programme material which are created when working with material intended for television broadcast

Sample rate – Typically expressed in samples per second, or hertz (Hz), the rate at which samples of an analogue signal are taken in order to be converted into digital form

Scale – To reduce or enlarge video or an image by squeezing or stretching

Scratch disk – A work area, on hard disk space, within Adobe Premiere used for temporary storage and saving preview files

Scrub – To play a programme in the Premiere Timeline by dragging the edit line

Shuttle – To spool rapidly through video material

Source view – The display of a clip or rushes for viewing and editing

Split-screen – A divided displaying two clips or pieces of footage

Stereo – Two-channel audio (left and right)

Still frame –A single image or frame of video

Stinger – A category of very short soundtracks (typically between three and eight seconds in duration). These are often sounds or effects used to accompany transitions, video effects or animated sequences

Superimpose –To place or lay one element over another so that both are still evident

Surround sound –Multichannel audio set-up featuring front and rear sources of sound

Sync / synchronise(d) / in sync – i) two identical clips playing simultaneously and at the same speed; ii) a clip or sequence that whose video is synchronised with the

accompanying audio (for example, to the beat of music); iii) a clip whose audio and video are aligned perfectly and as intended




Talking head – A clip featuring the head and shoulders of the person talking, often used for interviews

Three-point edit – A method of setting in-points and out-points to control where and how frames are inserted into a timeline. Differs from a four-point edit since three markers are determined manually and Premiere sets the fourth accordingly

Timecode – a time or code assigned to a specific frame or point in video or film. Measured in hh:mm:ss:ff format

Timeline – A timing-focused view of multiple sources being combined to produce edited material. Timelines often display tracks – horizontal sections representing various sources or types of material (eg, audio, video, graphics)

Timeline editing – A non-linear method of editing in which clips are represented on a monitor by bars proportional to the length of the clip

Title – Text/graphics used for indication and/or information pertaining to a production. Can include opening titles, subtitles and end credits

Transcode – To convert from one compression format to another

Transition – How one clip or sequence changes to another

Transparent – Regions of a superimposed image that are invisible and therefore reveal some or all of the underlying image

Trim – To remove frames from the beginning and/or end of a clip or sequence

Timeline – A timing-focused view of multiple sources being combined to produce edited material




VBR – Variable Bit Rate, the compression rate at which each unit of input material can be compressed to different sizes. Takes efficient advantage of available bandwidth capacity

VTR – Video tape recorder. Also known as VT

VU meter – A volume unit meter, a device used to display a representation of the signal level in audio equipment




WAV – Waveform audio file format used with Microsoft Windows

Wipe – A transition during which a clip is effectively ‘pushed’ from one side of the frame (be it left, right, top or bottom) to reveal the next clip. The speed of a wipe can be adjusted and can be a line or pattern



YUV – Full-colour video signal format, consisting of three elements: Y (luminance), and U and V (chrominance)



​​​(Courtesy of

© Danielle Millea 2019

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