Professional Editing Books?

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    • #37053

      Hello, I’m a noob at editing, have some experience being taught by professionals (on Avid) but I want to know if there are some professional books that will teach me how to professionalyl edit and\or something that does not just scratch the surface on the topic.

      one thing that confuses me is that I was taught to transition between clips but on shows on HBO I don’t see transition, just clean shots.

    • #164287

      If you use Sony Vegas – Douglas Spotted Eagle has a great book out there.

      For editing in general, there’s always Murch’s "In The Blink Of An Eye".

    • #164288

      I think I understand what you’re talking about and I believe this is more of a question about talent and experience rather than knowledge and skills gained from books, which is why its so hard to find literature on the subject in question. Reading a book about editing doesn’t make you a professional editor no more than reading a book about brushes and pigments makes you a professional painter.

      You made a good point in observing that professional content mostly includes clean cuts, but that doesn’t mean that transitions aren’t used. It just means that there is an appropriate time and place to use them. This is hard to teach because there are so many variables that make it difficult to create a formula that tells you when and where to use a transition or effect. It would almost be detrimental to have a set of rules because it would minimize creative license. Lets say you performed an edit that was mostly influenced from a book that you read and the producer absolutely hates it and asks "what the eff are you thinking? All you can say is that…"well, I read it in a book." This will not go over too well and will more than likely cost you the job and unnecessary embarassment. It’s important that you are able to politely and in an interpersonal way, say "hey Mr. Hot Shot Producer, I’m the editor and you don’t know what the eff you’re talking about so this is why I did what I did" you need to be able to convince him/her that your way is best or resolve the situation in a manner that preserves professionalism. Sometimes the producer wins but only because he/she had a problem communicating a significant point. I only say this because every editor knows some wannbe, arrogant, incompetent and obtuse producer.

      I would just do what you’ve been doing all along…Continue to learn the essential skills and watch as much professional content as you can so that you get a solid idea of what people are use to watching and than improve those techniques and possibly become innovative. Editors get paid because they understand how the general public preceives various types of media. They are able to take hours upon hours of footage and organize it in a manner that conveys a story that people can understand. If you haven’t done this, it is very hard to appreciate the talent that is actually involved. They understand different types of people and how they think which allows them to create an atmosphere that stimulates the emotions of individuals conducive to the manner in which they intended.

      I apologize for not answering your question. If you do find the books that you are looking for, please take them with a grain of salt and improve their methods. If you have an interest in editing, you probably already have the talent…you just need the experience.

      Best Regards,


      Oh yeah…whenever you watch a dvd, make sure you watch the behind the scenes special features. They’re a great resource. It’s also essential to learn and practice harmonizing different effects within multiple layers of video. You have probably noticed that the effects and transitions in NLE’s are rather simplistic and raw, but they are meant to be used creatively in combination with others…just don’t over do it. The best effects and transitions are those that aren’t really "noticed." Some other important skills to learn and practice are keyframing, compositing, and keying. πŸ˜‰

    • #164289


      Very good words above; you learn it by doing it.

      Im old school. For 80 years of cinema, 99% of the visual effects were fade to black, dissolves (cross fade), cuts, titles on screen, and occasional animation (e.g., line progressing across the map in Casablanca). 90% of the films that are considered the all time classics still are limited to these effects. Many of these films are not considered austere by any means.

      If this short list of effects/transitions seems extreme, you could say that we have gone extreme the other way today. If you need lots of effects to compel interest, maybe there is not enough content/story? Or, if you have the content/story, beware of distracting from the main event with a blitz of effects. The great John Frankenheimer made the superb film Ronin not that many years ago WITH CUTS ONLY. I also love Natural Born Killers, Oliver Stones most undisciplined and most interesting contribution to gonzo trash bin editing. With this style, he was (I believe) showing the deranged mental state of his key characters. Kitchen sink editing has its place but that doesnt mean Every Place. (The rest of the story: Thirty years earlier in Grand Prix, Frankenheimer was a pioneer of wall to wall multiple images on the screen; think picture in picture mutiplied by 100. Drove a lot of people batty. He did not repeat his mistake.)

      Many transitions can be achieved on the audio track alone plus a straight cut. The audio transitions to the new scene before the visual gets there.

      The old school classic book of editing used to be Karel Reisz The Technique of Film Editing. He was a notable director of British films. Might be worth a look, although certainly dated by todays standards.

      The most fun book of editing may be Francois Truffauts shot by shot analysis of several Hitchcock films. Hundreds of frames from Hs films are included. The text is Truffauts conversation with Hitchcock about what H had in mind. H was known as a master manipulator of audiences through his editing sequences. H typically storyboarded every shot of his films.

      You might go back and look at what the Academy has nominated for the Best Editing Oscar in recent years. When I saw City of God I was blown away by how its innovative editing style propelled the story. As a Brazilian foreign language film, didnt think it would even be considered as a Best Editing nominee finalist, but it was. (Constant Gardner, same director.) Find some films in this group or your own favorites where you think the editing sparkles for you. Rent or buy some of these DVDs and spend hours watching them in slo-mo so you can see what is really going in; take notes; and try out what you learn AND like in your next edit sequence.

      In the past, I would have recommended doing this with commercials, and this can still be helpful. However, many commercials today jump cut on the talking head after every spoken phrase; I expect that this will go the way of other nonsensical overused unappealing gimmicks used by commercials in the past. Not sure why this one has taken off; maybe the heads cant remember more than 6 words at a time. Still, it wouldnt hurt to have this technique in your arsenal. Also, the guerilla shooting/editing style of reality TV. But dont let these styles sweep you away; they do not represent the best that you can be; nor will they always be in your face as the next generation of moving images comes into play.

      REGARDS … TOM 8)

    • #164290

      As the editor’s saying goes, "If you can’t solve – dissolve". It’s just easier to edit with all the transition. The video needs to be shot properly in order to be edited with clear cuts.

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