Editing: A Love/Hate Relationship

Lately, I have been spending most of my waking hours in front of a screen, editing various projects in Premiere. Many people I work with don’t fully realize that the shoot is only the beginning of the work – every hour of footage can be 3 or more in post, depending on the end goal.

Lately, I’ve realized that I have a very particular experience when editing a musical montage.

The first few hours, it’s hard to focus. My brain is fighting with the constant input of image and sound. When I edit, I keep a mental cache of items to consider for future use, and the shifting around of memory is uncomfortable.

I could use this shot, but only if I use this other shot as a cutaway when the camera shakes for a brief moment, and I can’t put it next to this other clip or it will look like a jump cut, and maybe I can put text over this shot, but maybe I should instead end with this other shot because the audio is really interesting?

It can be overwhelming, picking snippets out of the great ocean of footage. Usually, once I’ve isolated clips for the montage, I have torn out half my hair as I stare at the multitude of options ahead of me. I find excuses to walk away from the computer at this point. I try to run away.

Then comes the sequencing. I mess things about, tentatively at first, and then a sort of trance sets in, where the next edit emerges out of the chaos of clips.


This is where I begin to love editing again.

I sometimes think that there is an ideal pattern for footage to fall in, and that I am simply the channel through which it falls. Order rears its great head and does battle with the chaos, and I can trust in the overarching pattern of the universe once more.

It’s a particular kind of elation when a giant mess of video and audio gets put in its proper place and tells a story, or moves an audience to emotion. I feel so lucky that I regularly get to experience this emotion.

But, of course, this order that I crave only comes in at the final moment of the whole thing. I’m currently coming down from the project completion high from this video:

…and I might as well blaze on through to the next one.

Peaks and valleys, guys. The life of an editor.