Monday, September 24, 2007

The magical world of editing

No guts no glory. No edit no story.

Welcome to the magical world of editing. The place where months of planning, weeks of writing and days of shooting all converge. For a typical 30-minute show, an editor may see over 12 hours of footage.

Working closely with producers, an editor will piece together a basic outline—kind of like starting a puzzle around the edges. Once we get the outline in place, we fill in the story. We'll add graphics, special effects and music to make it sing. When we're done, a stack of tapes will have been miraculously transformed into a comprehensive and entertaining program.

It sounds simple, but there are a lot of decisions made along the way. It's not unusual for us to spend days working on the same scene–back and forth–trimming shots by fractions of a second. That same 30-minute show may easily take us 4-8 weeks to complete.

Over the past 15 years, the technology of editing as changed a great deal. Back in the day, stories were put together in a linear fashion—we'd start at the beginning and end at the end—not much different than typing a letter with a typewriter. If you got halfway through and you didn't like what you had, you'd get out a new tape and start all over again. Now with computer-based systems or non-linear editing, the whole process is a lot more creative. This technology is the video equivalent of a word processor. We can now move clips around faster than you can say, “by viewers like you.”

Here at Maryland Public Television we have over a dozen edit suites filled with incredible editors all working on the great programs that broadcast over our airwaves. It's in these suites where the stories are shaped.

It's said that good editing shouldn't be seen; if it all flows together, the viewer will be too entertained to take note. So, next time you're watching a show on MPT and you don't notice what we've done, we'll take that as a compliment.

Joe Campbell

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Joe, I wish you would have bolded the part about how long it takes. With non-linear editing people tend to think it's supposed to happen quicker without realizing how long it would have taken the old fashioned way.