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Hello Blogosphere, this being my first entry, I’d like to introduce myself and my goals for this new, exciting, one-of-a-kind reflection on the continuing education of a fledgling video editor (me). The most important aim of this endeavor is to help people, including myself, become better video editors. I’d like to help you, and in turn help myself, improve technical skills, find new tools, and increase our creative agility by sharing what I learn as a result of my work and the challenges I face therein. To clarify, when I point somewhat vaguely to a ‘tool,’ I mean one of two things:

  • A function of the non-linear editing software that we, as editors, use.There are a thousand ways to skin a cat within the constantly growing technology that editors have at their fingertips these days. A big part of becoming better at editing is learning which manner of accessing that software is best/fastest.
  • A method of utilizing that function.In addition to increasing the amount and variety of editorial ammunition in your arsenal there is usually more than one way to use all of these diabolical weapons of video construction. Knowing which end of the hammer to use is just as important as knowing when to use it.

I can still recall the feelings of epiphany that actualized within my conscious when I learned how to garbage-matte, or make a roll edit with only one keystroke, or the ever-present Set In-Set Out-Overlay (or Extract) that occupies the majority of my edits [Sr. Editor’s note – this is called ‘3-point editing’.] If none of those words made any sense to you, you are in the right place, but I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s get back to the matter at hand. Who am I and why should you care? My name is Jordan Heffernan. I received a degree in Cinema Studies in 2011 and was one of the first graduates with a degree in that field from University of Oregon. Since then I have been editing professionally for two years. After using Final Cut Pro 7 throughout my education and my first few freelance projects, I now use Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 and CS6. I prefer Premiere, because I find its pitfalls less problematic than those of FCP. I am able to be a faster, more versatile editor in Premiere. If you use a different software, that’s okay. Most of the same tools are found in every Non-Linear Editor (NLE) and the terms and skills I address will still have relevance for you.

I have a full-time job as the in-house editor here at Media Beyond and supplement that with personal and professional projects in my free time including music videos, comedic shorts, and nationally broadcast TV episodes. So why should you care about what I have to say? I can help you get faster. Speed and accuracy should be your primary goal as an editor, until you can quickly burn through the basics of an edit, you will greatly limit your ability to finesse artistry and meaning into a project. I do not consider myself to be a great editor, I’m still young and have a lot to learn, but my eagerness for editing has enabled me to learn at a rapid pace and I’ve even been able to teach a few old dogs some new tricks; I hope to do the same for you.

I have found only one absolute in video editing: You can ALWAYS get better. This has never been proven wrong in my personal experiences and professionals who have been doing this for decades will back me up on it. With that in mind I’m going to share with you a glimpse of my world as I grow into my craft. This blog is aimed at first-time editors, daily jobbers, life-long artists and anyone in between. The only prerequisite is that you enjoy editing, in whatever capacity that my be for you. We are all approaching this dualistic trade from a unique perspective and thus have something unique to offer, whether it is our millionth cut or our first.  Editing is dualistic because, similar to many creative enterprises, it requires an artistic drive as well as a technical understanding of the software that must be used to direct that creativity.

This technical knowledge and skill-set will be my primary subject matter because it is the only limit to our creative editing force. In order to contribute significantly to any project you are working on, you must be able to wield your tools speedily and accurately. The better you understand your brush the more beautiful your strokes will become. With time and practice, the functions I originally viewed as a boundary have become the catalyst for my growth. Each of my posts will focus one one of three topics.

  • Specific technical tools and the varying methods with which I find them effective. The bulk of my posts will come in this form. I’ll define a tool or a term and go into how I use it. This focus stems from the fact that the bulk of energy and time I spend editing is directed at the ‘how.’ The ‘why’ of these choices will become self-evident as you take them into your own work, and I’m sure it will be different from my ‘why’ because you are facing different challenges and desire to create in different ways than I do.
  • The grander purpose and goals of the editor.These will be fewer and further between but serve to provide a deeper context for the use of the tools I keep in my back pocket and why they are important to have as an editor. These posts will cover the theory behind editing and I’ll often rely on the words and wisdom of those who have come before me to provide a reflection. We’ll discuss the differences between being a button-mashing monkey and subtle, mostly invisible, artist.
  • The philosophical meanderings of an Existential-Pragmatic-Editor.I double-majored in Philosophy and thus doomed myself to a life of asking questions no one is really able to answer. But my editing and my philosophy often run into each other and impact one another in ways I find interesting. On very rare occasions I’m going to discuss how video editing impacts the manner in which I approach the absurdity of reality, thus lending a deeper personal and spiritual significance to the act of editing.

Enough of that tom-foolery though. As this project evolves I would love to develop a community around editing where we can share our cumulative knowledge and help one another become better editors, together. For a start, next time we’ll be going over why you need to get away from your mouse, or How-I-Learned-to-Stop-Worrying-and-Love-My-Keyboard. This is the first and most important step in becoming a better editor. It’s easier than you think and I’ll show you how to get started in a snap. Well that’s it. Bye for now, you’ll be hearing from me soon.