Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Attacking the Edit

This is going to be a really dry post… If you’re not at all into editing, run! Run as fast as you can. I’m going to lay out my approach to editing a feature. I’ve now be the chief editor on all three of my previous features as well as another half a dozen others. I’ve also acted as assistant editor on another dozen. I’ve never been all that tech savvy, I know the programs Final Cut, Adobe Premier and Avid, but that’s where my expertise ends. I know how to cut images together to tell a story. I have a rudimentary understanding of codecs, compression and whatnot.

I primarily edit on a MAC, using Final Cut 6. I just upgraded to 7, Monsters in the Woods will be the first feature I use it for. Monsters is also the first feature I’m editing in full HD. I never had the system requirements before to handle HD editing and most of my previous features were shot on either DV or HDV.


Step 1… Back up! I have 3 terabytes of internal space. I keep one full version of the movie on internal space. This is the drive I work from. Then I have 4 more terabytes external. I use two for in house back up and store yet another back up in another location.

Step 2.. Rename all clips. I know FCP 7 has a feature that renames capture scratch in-program, however, I’m pig headed and stubborn and am used to renaming the original clips outside of FCP before importing. It’s a method that’s served me well in the past and I’ll most likely continue as long as I’m my own assistant editor. Oops…messed up all ready. See I need to name the clips before I make all my back ups. So switch steps 1 and 2. Well, maybe not. It’s good to have at least one back up even at this early stage. You never know when you might crash.

Step 3… Import into FCP. I create three separate project files, which will house the 3 acts of the movie. Again, maybe my logic is faulty, but I still think it’s best to break the project into reels.

Step 4 Create a trailer project…on Monsters, the producers have 1st asked me to create a sales trailer of 2 to 3 minutes. So I suppose I’ll do that before actually getting into the actual cut.

Step 5. Rough cut.. I’m still working a day gig, so it will take me a little over 30 days to get my 1st cut together.

Step 6 Create a SFX folder. Sound FX. I’m also my own sound designer. So at this point I’ll start pulling from my 100 gig plus sound fx library appropriate sounds. I place these in a separate fcp file.

Step 7 Put together the visual and sound and start whittling it down. This will take me about 60 days. Less if I can talk the producers into fronting some back end cash so I can cut hours at my day job.

Damn, I tired. Think I’ll update this later…. Night.


  1. Dont forget the score, which i believe you recently met someone who could help with that...

  2. Sounds a lot like my first experience attempting to edit HD- except for adding about 12 more steps between 0-1 while I made many wonderful discoveries about the technological mismatch of the tape and my computer. I admire and empathize with your cause, Mr. Horton. Godspeed as you plummet through the time vortex known as editing.