Digital Video Editing

Post-Production | By: indie

Your videos can benefit strongly from a good NLE (non-linear editor). Using computers, we can alter the sequence of our shots and adjust qualities of the imagery in our videos to a great degree using a process called digital video editing. Here’s how it works.

Before Digital Video Editing – Film Cutting

The term “cutting room floor” originated from the fact that before digital video editing technology came to the forefront, every film editor had to literally cut film by hand into long strips. Imagine a standard film being shot at 24 frames per second, with standard 35mm film being 16 frames per foot; that should give you some idea of just how long an hour’s worth of film would be.

Even when TV studios started using tape machines and linear video editing systems, editors still had to fast forward and rewind to exactly the point they wanted to start from, set the master tape to record to the dubbing tape, and then repeat the process for every single shot.

I actually had a test in one of my video classes in college where we had to edit several shots together on one of these old machines, and do it within a certain time limit. That archaic contraption was no match for my ridiculous skills, of course. Ahem… anyway. Thank goodness we now have computers that make digital video editing so much easier!

Non-linear digital video editing allows you to cut, move, and order sequences without scissors, tapes or dial scrubbers. Once you understand how it works and familiarize yourself with your video editing software of choice, you’ll be a step ahead of all the amateurs out there.

The Non-Linear Editing Concept

A non-linear story or game is one where you take your own path. It’s one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books where you jump from page to page, or a computer role-playing game that gives you the choice to divulge into several different paths along the way.

Obviously, your final product is going to be a linear story or situation told visually. But in order to get there, the same concept that applies to the books and games described above will be true of how you edit your footage. Non-linear digital video editing is made possible because when you capture video to your computer it becomes a digital file, even if it was analog while it was on your camera.

Say you’re having a dinner party, and you’re trying to figure out where to seat your guests. So you write each guest’s name down on a 3×5 index card, set the table, and place a card on each plate. Now you have a visual scheme of where everyone will be and you can imagine the situation in your head as everyone sits down to eat.

Suddenly you realize that Aunt Sally can’t possibly sit next to Uncle Henry! They had a falling out a couple of months ago and they won’t want to be next to each other. Likewise, you can’t seat Cousin Joe across from your friend Nick because they’d cause such a ruckus by horsing around that it could be a distraction to others at the table.

Old linear editing systems were like a seating arrangement that you couldn’t change. Once the index cards hit the plates, they were there to stay. With digital video editing, you can shuffle the cards around until your seating arrangement is perfect – and you can do it well before your guests arrive.

This is accomplished because you have the ability to move sequences of video around as many times as you want, with no degradation in quality – the only outlay is your time. Take a look at my Non-Linear Editing Tutorial for some in-depth digital video editing instructions.

Write a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.