Film and video editors work in motion pictures and television to create storyline continuity within a film. For each scene in a motion picture or television show, they are given multiple shots from different angles. They evaluate scenes to determine their dramatic and entertainment value. Then they choose the best shots for each scene and then combine them to form a coherent sequence of scenes. Sometimes they may decide to cut certain scenes altogether. They attempt to balance elements such as photography, performance, consistency, and timing.
Film and video editors often are required to cut a piece down to a specified length. They use editing equipment to insert dialogue, music, and sound effects. They use computers to monitor film and video, as well as make adjustments. They often work closely with sound effects editors, who analyze the sound requirements of the film or video, record sounds, and create soundtracks; music editors, who determine the music needed for a film, locate the right music if an original score is not used, and synchronize music with film; and assistant editors, who complete preparation work, oversee interns, arrange scheduling, and offer general support to film and video editors.
Film and video editors should be creative and have sound judgment and good vision. They must be good at organizing large quantities of information. They should have a discerning and critical mind. They need to be fast learners and able to adapt quickly to new challenges during the editing process. They should have well-developed interpersonal communication skills, as they usually work with a team on each project.
In 2001, film and video editors working in California earned an average hourly wage of $20.99 per hour, ranging from $12.44 to $27.79 per hour. Their average annual earnings were $43,669. Due to the higher degree of skill involved in film editing, earnings in the motion picture industry tended to be higher than in television.
Training and Education
The entry-level position in this occupation is apprentice film editor, which usually requires a bachelor’s degree in filmmaking. This is not a strict requirement, though, and quite a few editors do not have a bachelor’s degree. Employers look favorably upon work experience in a university or college film department. Film and video editors are not required to have a State license or certificate. They often are required to take continuing education courses in order to stay informed about current trends and changes in the industry. An effective way for film and video editors to increase employment opportunities is to learn as much as possible about the different computer-based editing systems. These computer-based systems are becoming more and more common, and will eventually replace traditional editing techniques altogether.
Between 2002 and 2012, employment of film and video editors is expected to increase faster than the average. Competition will be high for these highly desirable jobs. Opportunities will be best for those who have a bachelor’s degree in film studies, or who have experience with computer-based editing systems.
For more information on a career as a film and video editor, please see our directory of schools offering Video Production Training