Many film and video makers who involve themselves in the editing process for the first time often find themselves faced with the sudden realisation that `if you didn't shoot it, you can't use it!'
By the editing stage it's a bit too late to start going out and shooting scenes you didn't get the first time round - so: make sure you work from a shooting script (a list of ALL needed shots) mark off successful takes! shoot what you need, might need, perhaps could need but certainly not what you don't need - you're going to have to go through all of your footage in the editing process and the more excess footage you have, the more time it will take!.

Be prepared: have all your material together when you're ready to edit!

Editing, with today's tools, isn't a major feat demanding great artistic talent or technological expertise. All you need to do is cut and paste a few scenes together to construct a lucid story just as you would with a word processor.However, it helps if you have a perceivable beginning, a revelatory middle and a conclusive ending. it's also a great help if you have good pictures to work with, and you learn a little of the poetry of editing so you don't leave the odd scene lingering on screen for too long, or too short for the viewer's pleasure.

On the other hand, it can be a Herculean task to edit a bunch of badly shot, incompletely staged scenes together in order to make a sensible sequence that not only has a beginning, a middle and an end, but can go further and maintain the fragile illusion that the material was shot and edited by a professional. So, before you begin:

  • decide the pacing of the video, and its style of presentation. work out a time frame to complete the edit in.
  • work to a comprehensive storyboard or script.

With the rise of affordable, powerful nle's (non-linear editing) systems, it is almost impossible to give any practical technical advice. Nor is it easy to suggest which system / software is the best since nle's are still developing with new systems / software being introduced constantly. Nor has there been a 'right time' to buy - what's new today is obsolete tomorrow. Fortunately, there are now numerous off the shelf systems available which will provide reliable, and quite sophisticated results for a reasonable outlay. As a very rough guide to system basics you will need a minimum of:

a minimum of two seperate hard drives, one for the system (250gb should suffice) and 500gb upwards for video storage (additiona external hard drives, such as usb3 portables are also adequate for video work nowadays)

as powerful a cpu as you can afford - an i7 being the minimum for hd work

as powerful a gpu as you can afford - with at least 4gb of on board ram

a minimum of 8gb system ram

a robust operating system, windows 7 or better or mac

at least a 27" monitor (eye strain is a major problem with most video editing systems)

and remember, should you have problems - DON'T PANIC

a. if your system was working in the first place, it will work again!
b. most 'problems' can be traced to user malfunction!
. answers can usually be found by googling, or if you're more serious, joining any of the numerous forums devoted to editing software / hardware (if you come across the acronym RTFM in a reply - it means read the f**king manual.)

More Basics:
In its purest form editing is simply changing from one picture or scene to another. In movie and television programs most scenes change very simply, ie., they CUT from one scene to another.
Another commonly used effect is a dissolve, where one scene merges (dissolves / crossfades) in to the next.
There are now near limitless, and sometimes highly complex looking, effects available in even the most simple nle programs. However, these effects should be used sparingly and in context - used improperly they simple make your program look amateurish and cheap.
Just watching television will give you a good idea as to what to do, and what not to do. Documentaries will teach you that showing a talking head for half an hour is not going to capture your audiences attention. Adverts loaded with special effects usually sell cheap products. And, if you have a story to tell, a product to sell, or an idea to convey, do just that, and do it as simply as possible.This is a list of possible things a video might include:

  • titles - to identify people, places, thingsnarration - to tell a story, explain the vision, an idea, or to inform or amusemusic and fx - to aid the flow, to add dramatic / relaxing effect
  • credits - to inform people who was involved

How you edit the footage you shot will make the difference between an interesting and entertaining video and a deadly boring one. As a beginner you might have a lot of unusable footage - times where you forgot to turn the camera off, out of focus shots, embarrassing views, wobble cam, etc., In editing you will simply get rid of the bad stuff and make a story of the good stuff. It helps to work from a script, and study the footage beforehand in order to choose the best scenes.

Logging:Before you start editing view your material thoroughly, making notes as to what, and where scenes you may want to use in your program are. Logging of your tapes is all important regardless of which editing system you use, because this edl (edit decision list), will be the foundation of your finial video, whether you use the shots therein or not.

Paper Edit:For those without access to an editing system, or projects beyond their expertise, or for clients with limited time to spend in the edit suite, the 'paper cut' (based on burnt in time code) provides the perfect solution.A brief guide:

1. Working from a script / storyboard shoot your material.
. Copy the original camera material to a dvd or low res video file the camera's time code.
. View and log the material, noting all the scenes you are likely to use
4. Match the best takes (scenes you shot) to your script / storyboard
. Supply the editor with with the original camera files, any graphics, photos, etc., you want included, recorded narration, music, etc. and then start editing according to your edl (edit decision list) fine tuning as you go along