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Hello again, this is your friendly neighborhood Junior Editor with some tips on how to speed up your editing and increase your accuracy all at the same time.

In my previous posts I touched on the importance of editing faster and discussed how keyboard shortcuts are a great way to do this. If you’re skeptical of this notion I’d encourage you to read my post which makes an argument (and a fairly potent one, if I do say so myself) for why you want to do this.

Now I want to dive in and give you some tools that I use regularly, and you should too! We’re going to cover:

  • 3-Point Editing, which is a term that refers to a method of editing in Non-Linear Editors (such as Avid, Adobe Premiere, or Final Cut Pro) that helps you move your footage into and out of a sequence with speed and ease and as little of the mouse as possible.
  • Lift and Extract
  • Audio and Video ‘Track’ Selectors.

Let’s start with the most important point first. The 3-Point Editing method is imperative for all editors to master for two reasons:

  1. It is the easiest way to increase speed and accuracy by the greatest margin.
  2. Learning this skill is an eye-opening experience (at least it was for me) to the greater potential hidden in the depths of keyboard shortcuts and really encourages you to find new ways of improving your craft.

The name 3-Point Editing is essentially its definition as well; it derives from three points on two sequences, your ‘Sequence’ and your ‘Source.’ These three points are either two ‘Ins’ and an ‘Out’ or an ‘In’ and two ‘Outs.’  The ‘Sequence’ or the ‘Source Monitor’ will have an ‘In’ and an ‘Out’ and the other will have just one ‘In’ or just one ‘Out’. You will set these yourself and they will designate where the incoming footage is going on the Sequence as well as what new footage is going there. This is achieved in two different ways.

The first is more common, especially when working with a script. It involves setting an ‘In’ and an ‘Out’ in the Source Monitor indicating what footage you want to place in your Sequence. This is a great way to precisely pick exactly what footage, down to the frame, that you want from a clip before adding it to any timeline without fussing around with ‘Razor’-ing or some other such nonsense. We now have two of our three points covered (the ‘In’ and ‘Out’ of our source material). The third point is either an ‘In’ or an ‘Out’ on the Sequence.

Whichever you choose will correlate to the corresponding point in your Source Monitor; meaning that if you have a desired point on your timeline where you want the new footage to begin, set an ‘In’ on the Timeline at that point. Or conversely, if you have a desired end point on your sequence for the incoming footage (like when you need to cover a long gap with b-roll) set that point as the ‘Out’ on the Timeline. To set an ‘In’ and an ‘Out’ you can take the sucker’s roll and click on the buttons below your Source and Program Monitors, however I recommend assigning keys to these, (I use the common defaults ‘I’ and ‘O’) as you will be using this method a lot once you get it down. Now it’s time to make the edit – you have two options here:

  • Overlay is a destructive edit. If you choose to Overlay the footage from your Source Monitor it will delete anything that already exists on the Timeline for the length you have set. This is a moot point if there is nothing there, but it can be a useful way to get rid of a bad take and replace it with a better take in one fell swoop as well as myriad other tasks.
  • Insert, like it sounds, will insert the selected footage designated by your ‘In’ and ‘Out’ within the Source Monitor into the Timeline and will “push” any existing footage (on all selected audio and video tracks) down the timeline. It is a non-destructive edit and is great for adding clips or graphics after revisions and script changes are brought up or new ideas come to light.

Similar to setting an ‘In’ or an ‘Out’ there are buttons on your ‘Monitors’ within your preferred NLE that correspond to Overlaying or Inserting, but again I’d recommend setting keys for these (I use the defaults ‘B’ and ‘N’ respectively).

An important aspect of this to note is your track selection. For any project, you will most likely not have all your video and audio on a single track, but rather varied across multiple tracks, especially if you have music and dialogue occurring simultaneously. These tracks can be activated and deactivated; doing so has certain implications when it comes to the ‘Insert’ and ‘Overlay’ commands. For an ‘Overlay’, any active track will be overwritten even if you are only adding either Audio or Video.

For example: your A-roll has lots of jump cuts, and now you need to cover it with some B-Roll and you want your B-Roll on a designated track (so it is easier to apply effects to just those clips later.) You’ve now found the hypothetical desired clip and set an In on the Source Monitor and an In and an Out on the Timeline so that the incoming footage adequately covers the jump cut. Project defaults will have the ‘Source Video’ (indicated with a ‘V’ on the far left of your Timeline Window) on Video 1. You’ll need to use the mouse to drag the ‘V’ up to ‘Video 2’ and make sure both are highlighted (light grey vs. dark grey in some NLEs, yours may be different,) indicating they are ‘Active.’ If you would like to Overlay just the video and none the audio you must toggle all of the audio Tracks to ‘Not Active’ (so that they are not highlighted). Otherwise when you hit Overlay, everything on every Track that is Active, within the area designated by your ‘In’s and ‘Out’s, will be OBLITERATED. (CTRL+Z!!!!!!!!!!).

Remember, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe you didn’t want that dumb audio anyway pshh, whatever audio… But if you did, you’ve just gotten rid of something you didn’t mean to – you don’t want that, and I don’t want that, so let’s just avoid that and agree to check our active Tracks as we go.

The last things I want to touch on, and this is really only because they are so freaking on-topic I can’t ignore ’em without staying up late wishing I’d included them, are the ‘Lift’ and ‘Extract’ tools. These are great tricks for trimming out frames here and there as well as ripping out big chunks of video. Similar to the techniques I just showed you, they both rely on the ‘In’ and ‘Out’ on your Timeline.

  • Lift will remove any footage, audio, graphic, pictures, etc. from any active Tracks within your ‘In’ and ‘Out’. It will not remove anything on any inactive Tracks, nor will it “push” or “pull” the rest of your sequence upon deletion.
  • Extract is Lift’s bigger, meaner brother. It does the same thing as Lift by removing everything on every Active Track. However it also shoves everything together into one tightly packed lunch, like a ripple delete, but faster.

Let me know if I’ve helped you at all – or if I’ve missed anything, by leaving me a comment.  Next time, I’ll talk about the importance of getting organized, provided I can find my notes.