How to edit - Brisbane Movie Makers

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Recently, I became involved in a discussion about practices used during editing. The range of practices used among the four people involved was quite diverse. I guess what it came down to is that there is no “right” way to conduct your edit, just as there is no “right” way to do almost anything in movie-making. 

Still, I found it interesting to hear about the way others approached things and it made me think a little about the way I proceed. One thing that seemed to bug everyone, is the “naming” of video clips. The seeming random collection of digits and letters that cameras and associated gear allocate to clips I and others, find difficult and confusing especially as the clips start to accumulate into the hundreds. It’s worse if more than one camera is involved, or an additional recorder. The problem I find, is that the numbers bear little or no relation to the content of the clips. 

That’s why I have generally adopted the practice of re-naming all the clips. Yes, a tedious afternoon’s work but it is so good when it’s finished! To be able to look at a clip and see “heroine escapes” rather than KB000053SD12 is worth the time and effort. Some people use an “input screen” to trim the clip to length, whereas I prefer to put the clip on the timeline and adjust it there. Some programs, such as Vegas which I use, provide a “trimmer” screen for the purpose, but thankfully, it can be turned off. Vegas also provides a sub-program called edit assist which allows one to store, sort, record and retrieve all manner of media in every conceivable manner. Many, I find from the forums, swear by it. I never use it and would be more inclined to swear at it. 

The way clips are arranged on the timeline is largely determined by your particular NLE. Most, like Vegas, offer unlimited tracks and, at times, I have used over thirty – a combination of video and audio tracks. This is because I am inclined to stack multiple takes one above the other, deciding which one to use by enabling/ disabling successive tracks. Once the decisions have been made, the also-rans are cleared away to make space for a dozen or so audio tracks for the sound track build.
Have a look at the above little screen-grab. This is something that was suggested to me. It helps when the number of clips rises into the hundreds and are being constantly trimmed and moved around. One member of our “conference” advocates this trick. It’s simple, really. Lay your clips out on the time line and insert another video track above it. In this track, which is disabled, make a series of labels, which clearly describe the content of the associated clip. But how do you shift the clips around – do you have to shift both the clip and the Label? No, because one makes a group of each clip and label which means that when a clip is moved, the label goes too. The proponent uses white text on a black background, but I feel I would prefer to use some other combination such as the black on yellow illustrated. Or, even, a number of combinations to designate clips of a particular type. The label-track could, of course, be made much narrower in practice.

I felt this approach was novel and inventive but I was not entirely blown away. The person using this does not use Vegas, but I have been using a vaguely similar system. Vegas allows markers which are numbered and can be named. I have been using these, not completely, but extensively. Like this:
The markers are tied to the clips and move with them. I guess the wash-up of all this is that no matter how you approach your edit and what NLE you choose, there are ways and means to suit your individual style and make you task a little easier and to enhance the features of your NLE.
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