June 19, 2008

Backroom Job That Can Make or Break a Film


What does a career in film/video editing involve?

Editors prepare the final broadcast version of films or TV productions.

In a process known as post-production, they take raw footage, choose the best shots and put them in order, and add sound, graphics and special effects.

Skilled editors can have a big influence on the quality of the finished piece.

As a film or video editor, you would normally use digital technology and computer software to edit sound and pictures. You could work on projects including feature films, TV programmes, corporate videos and commercials.

Your day to day work would involve discussing the needs of the project from the director or client, transferring film/video footage to computer, examining the footage and deciding which shots to keep and which to cut.

You would cut and join shots using editing software, always keeping a clear idea of the storyline, even though you may be editing scenes out of sequence.

You would create a "rough cut" from the chosen material, then put together the final version, digitally enhancing picture quality and adding titles, graphics, visual effects and sound.

On a larger project you may be one of several editors with different jobs and specialisms such as offline editing (making the rough cut), online editing (producing the final version) or sound editing.

What personal skills do you need?

You need to be creative with a good sense of timing and visual awareness, and pay attention to detail.

You must also be patient and able to concentrate, with excellent computer skills. You must be able to communicate, and be able to work in a team. You must also be prepared to be flexible and work long hours to meet deadlines.

What training do you need?

You need to gain as much experience as you can - either paid or unpaid - and produce a "show reel" to demonstrate your skills.

You could gain experience editing student or community film productions, working for an editing equipment hire company or doing work experience as a runner in an editing facilities house.

There are also courses in film, video or media production you can take, for example, City and Guilds (7501) Diploma in Media Techniques, City and Guilds (7502) Certificate for Audiovisual Industries Induction or the BTEC National Certificate/Diploma in Media Production followed by BTEC HNDs, degrees and postgraduate courses.

You may find it useful to take short courses in particular editing software and equipment.

You may be able to get some training as part of a new entrant scheme, such as Film and Television Freelance Training (FT2) Tech First (an apprenticeshipstyle programme for editing, sound and camera trainees).

What are the opportunities for career progression?

You would usually start off as a runner or trainee in a post- production house, and progress to assistant editor. Many editors work freelance.

What is the salary?

(Rough guideline). Starting salaries are around pounds 18,000 to pounds 25,000 a year. Experienced freelance pre-tax rates can be between pounds 1,100 and pounds 2,000 a week.

More information

Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU) www.bectu.org.uk

Skillset Careers www.skillset.org/careers

BKSTS - The Moving Image Society www.bksts.com

FT2 Film and Television Freelance Training www.ft2.org.uk

Learndirect Careers Advice www.learndirectadvice.co.uk

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