What is video editing
Video editing is the process of manipulating and rearranging videos into a larger composition. The process typically involves adding other elements to enhance the overall viewing experience, such as special effects, music, and transitions. Learning how to edit high-quality videos is a challenging task that requires creativity, technical skills, and dedication. This skill is a valuable asset for those who want to work in the film, television, or video production industries.
Video editing is used in many fields including academia, marketing and human resources. This is because video is an incredibly accessible form of communication that millions of people interact with on a daily basis. Each choice made during the video editing process has the power to emotionally influence viewers, making this skill a valuable way to share information, tell stories, and express creativity.
History of video editing
Before video editing, early filmmakers like Auguste and Louis Lumière would shoot footage of scenes they found interesting until they ran out of film. The brothers would develop the Cinématographe in 1895, a three-in-one device that could be used to record, develop, and project films. The only way that filmmakers in the early 20th century could cut, splice, and rearrange clips was by cutting apart their footage with scissors and gluing it back together. These new versions of reassembled footage were referred to as rough cuts, a phrase that is still used today to describe the initial edited cut of a film.
In 1924, Dutch electrical engineer Iwan Serrurier invented the Moviola, the first video editing machine used in the film industry. This tiny editing device contains a splicing machine that allows users to shoot, process, and edit their films on location. The Moviola quickly remained the standard technology used by filmmakers until the popularization of flatbed editing tables in the 1960s.
Despite being invented decades earlier, flatbed editing machines did not eclipse the Moviola until after more advanced versions of the technology had been released. The primary benefit of an editing table is its ease of use and clear view of images. Each table contains six plates, as well as buttons for stopping and starting, that allow the operator to play multiple reels of sound and picture simultaneously.
The craft of video editing changed with the invention of non-linear video editing, which allows images to be edited without permanently altering or damaging the original footage.
Non-linear video editing history
Early video editing tools like the Moviola required footage to be cut manually, which forced video editors to be extremely intentional with their choices. Prior to non-linear video editing technology, any edits made to the rough cut of a film could not be undone unless another copy of the footage was ordered. The emergence of non-linear video editing opened the door to experimentation, allowing editors to trim, arrange, and rearrange footage as many times as they needed to bring their vision to life.
Designed by CBS and Memorex in the early ‘70s, the CMX 600 became the first disk-based, non-linear video editor. This technology allowed video editors to transfer their film onto disk drives, each of which could only store a few minutes of footage. Due to its limited processing capabilities and $250,000 price tag, only six CMX 600 video editors were ever sold.
Several digital non-linear editing tools were released in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, marking the beginning of a new era in video editing technology. The first digital video editor, Avid Media Composer, allowed users to download compressed versions of their footage onto a Mac computer disk, edit the video on a desktop computer, and export the final product. Avid created a desktop environment for users that mirrored the layout of a flatbed editing table, complete with separate windows for previewing clips and final edits. Avid continues to make video editing software tools today. Avid is considered to be the first digital video editing software application, countless digital video editing software applications have been created since its launch and are still available today.
Digital video editing software applications
Video editors use a variety of applications to create professional-grade projects, including films, documentaries, TV episodes, and more. The most commonly used video editing software applications are:
- Adobe Premiere Pro: Used by many video editing professionals, Adobe Premiere Pro is a non-linear editing software that can be used to create extremely technical projects. This application gives video editors the flexibility to drag, rearrange, and modify clips on the editing timeline without altering the original footage. Premiere Pro also includes a range of tools, including Lumetri color correction, auto-captioning, and multicam editing. This software is a professional level video editing tool, and was used to edit the film “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once,” which won best picture at the 95th Academy Awards in March 2023.
- Final Cut: Final Cut is a popular video editing application from Apple that is used by many professionals in the film, television, and digital media industries. Known for its magnetic timeline, this application allows users to drag the audio and video from their raw footage into visually organized lanes that help to optimize the workflow. Final Cut also comes with robust video editing features, such as multicam editing and duplicate detection.
- Davinci Resolve: This professional video editing software program is known for its advanced color grading and post-production capabilities. Because of the application’s cloud-based project libraries, multiple users can work on a project simultaneously, allowing teams to collaborate remotely and in real time. Its interface is divided into pages with dedicated workspaces for specific post-production tasks, such as editing, color correcting, and sound.
- iMovie: iMovie is a consumer level video editing software from Apple that is available at no cost on Apple computers, tablets, and phones. This application is primarily used by those who are new to video editing and want to start in a user-friendly application. iMovie includes a range of basic video editing features, including titles, transitions, and built-in templates.
Video editing careers
As an essential part of any film or television production, video editing plays a crucial role in the success of the final product. Even though this skill takes time and effort to learn, those who invest in learning video editing will be entering a growing job market. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of video editing jobs is expected to grow 12% over the next decade, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.
There are a variety of career paths that can be pursued within the field of video editing, including:
Video editor: Video editors are responsible for reviewing footage, trimming and arranging clips on the timeline, and adding special effects. Those who are skilled with multiple editing applications like Premiere Pro and Final Cut are often able to secure more work, as there is no set standard application across video editing roles. Video editors are relied upon to combine video and audio together to create a completed work, using visual media to communicate the narrative envisioned by the producers and directors.
Assistant editor: An assistant director is responsible for reviewing raw footage, compiling footage, and the post-production process. Assistant editors also ensure that each image and sound clips are assigned time codes and entered into a database so they can be easily located and included in the final product. Assistant editors can also edit portions of a project and gain experience that helps them progress to working as a primary editor.
Post-production supervisor: A post-production supervisor oversees the entire creation of a project, coordinating with all members of the production, including producers, editors, supervising sound editors, facilities companies, and the production accountant. This role ensures that a project is finished on-time and within the defined budget. Post-production supervisors may also advise those who are working on the project about any limits they need to keep in mind while shooting, such as work schedules or the cost of equipment.
Colorist: A colorist manipulates a project’s hues, tones, brightness, and color palates during the post-production process to evoke emotions or ideas during viewing. This role requires extensive knowledge of color trends and styles, along with the ability to collaborate directors and producers. Colorists are also responsible for removing color inconsistencies that can occur between shots, and are often responsible for digitally processing the final product for distribution.
Sound designer: A sound designer creates and manipulates audio to enhance the overall experience in films, television, and video games. Sound designers work closely with directors, producers, and audio engineers to create sound effects, design music, and develop dialogue tracks that enhance the storytelling and overall audio quality of a project. Sound designers use sound libraries, recordings, and synthesizers to create and manipulate sound so that it fits the mood and tone of a project. Sound designers can also work with foley artists to create sound effects.
Visual effects artist: The visual effects artist creates and manipulates visual elements that are difficult or impossible to create through conventional photography. Visual effects artists work on films, television shows, video games, and commercials, creating visuals that enhance the storytelling. Visual effects artists use tools including software for 3D modeling, compositing, and animation for creating and manipulating visual elements. They work closely with directors and producers to ensure visual effects align with the creative vision of the project. Visual effects artists may also work with other departments such as cinematography, art direction, and post-production to make certain their effects integrate into completed projects.
Video editing salaries
The average base pay for a video editor in the United States is nearly $51,000 per year, and the range for video editing salaries varies widely based on experience, location, and the complexity of the project.
The average salaries for common video editing jobs are:
- Video Editor: $50,948 per year
- Senior Video Editor: $72,607 per year
- Film / Video Editor: $58,640 per year
- Assistant Video Editor: $42,494 per year
- Freelance Video Editor: $37.20 per hour
Video editing salaries vary based upon the experience level of the editor, education, location, and the specific job duties required. Video editors who specialize in high-end post production work in major cities will likely earn more than someone who primarily edits corporate training videos remotely.
Video editing jobs in the US are expected to grow in number over the next decade. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for film and video editors will grow 18 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations. Increased demand for digital content in advertising, entertainment, social media, and e-commerce are contributing to this growth.
The future of video editing
Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to revolutionize the video editing process by automating manual tasks that are time-consuming, including video analysis, color correction, and audio enhancement. AI-powered video editing tools will likely be able to analyze video footage, identify key moments, and suggest edits based on the video's content, significantly reducing editing time. AI can also be used to improve video quality by automatically correcting issues such as shaky footage and improving the visibility of filming that occurred in low-light conditions. While the use of AI in video editing is still in its early stages, it is showing great potential, and companies such as Adobe have already shared proof of concepts for tools that will improve the process.
The likely role of video editors with the advent of artificial intelligence is also likely to evolve. While AI-powered video editing tools will automate many tasks, they are not likely to replace the creativity and critical thinking skills of a human editor. Video editors will remain essential in interpreting the video content and deciding how to tell visual stories. As AI continues to develop, video editors will need to adapt and learn new skills to remain relevant and utilize the efficiencies of AI. Video editors will almost certainly need to collaborate with AI tools and use them to enhance their work to remain competitive. The role of video editors is likely to shift from manual labor to more strategic and creative work, making video editing more interesting and rewarding.
Video editing is an essential creative professional role. Creating engaging, high-quality video content that captures viewer's interest will continue to be important across industries ranging from entertainment, advertising, education, and social media. In entertainment, video editing will continue to be used to create movies, streaming shows, and television series. Advertising will continue to rely on video editing to create commercials and promotional videos. Video editing will also remain crucial in education, where it is used to create instructional videos, e-learning modules, and online courses. Social media will also likely continue to have a need for video editing to create shareable content.
Video Editing References
- The Lumière Brothers, Pioneers of Cinema
- Moviola - Iwan & Mark Serrurier
- Game Changers: Editing
- History of nonlinear video editing
- Post-production evolution | TV Tech
- Avid editing – How television used to be made
- A guide to non-linear video editing
- Adobe Premiere Pro
- Final Cut Pro - Apple
- DaVinci Resolve 18 from Blackmagic Design
- iMovie - Apple
- Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators : Occupational Outlook Handbook
- Avid editing – How television used to be made
- What do Post Production Supervisors do?
- Role of the Colorist
- Sound Designer role