Editors were discerning, and the blade was sharp and harsh. When shots, or entire scenes, were literally cut out of the film, they fell onto the floor of the cutting room and were never seen by a viewer again.
The concept of the cutting room floor is one that we can learn from as video producers. The idea of omission seems to have somehow escaped the mind of many modern video producers. Without the discipline of omission, editors regularly include more than they should. This makes productions run long and often causes the pace of the edit to drag. In this scenario, the editor uses an additive thought process. A video is built by adding more and more content to the timeline without regard for total run time of the production.
One of the cardinal rules of making video, however, is to remember that we do not produce work for our own consumption.
One of the cardinal rules of making video, however, is to remember that we do not produce work for our own consumption. On the other end of any video is a viewer. It is for this person that we produce. Whereas the creator of a project may fall in love with every shot and wish to include every frame in the final edit, the viewer is likely watching for more practical reasons. Whether the content is created to inform, instruct or entertain the viewer, the art of brevity is the winning concept.
As makers of media, we must be intentional to view our edits through the eyes of our audiences. In the viewers’ economy, any content that isn’t essential to the story or to the communication of the intended concept or message, represents sideways energy at minimum, but more likely, wasted time. In this age of web-distributed content, short attention spans combine with bandwidth restrictions and data limits, causing viewers to prefer productions that get to the point quickly. Today’s viewer is likely to click off any video that drags on too long without watching it in its entirety.
It can be painful to cut out parts of your production, especially parts that you are proud of, but it is well worth it. The measure of success is no longer in creating programs with broadcast length run times; it is in the creation of videos that are content rich and information dense. By web standards, it is the number of views that a video receives that mark its effectiveness. The trick is to create content that makes a point quickly and compels the viewer to watch it repeatedly and share it with others.
Matthew York is Videomaker's Publisher/Editor.