Editing Overview (D2)


Assistant Editing

Key tasks include syncing footage, organizing media, creating stringouts, and uploading dailies. Visit the Assistant Editing Workflow post for a complete set of instructions.

If you have time left at the end of the AE day and want to start on assembling a cut, you may do that.


On your own time, the editor and director should get together to watch and discuss the dailies.

The key goal of dailies is to THINK about the film. It’s useful for the editor to make notes on what takes the director likes the most, but the most important thing is to be both on the same page about the big picture stuff. The editor should make sure they fully understand the director’s vision for TONE, CORE THEMES, and EMOTIONAL JOURNEY.

Picture Editing

Day 1 – Lay out the Beats

The editor has the first day to assemble an editor’s cut on their own, without the director in the suite.

Editors should focus first on laying out the beats in accordance to the script and whatever was discussed with the director during dailies. The goal at this stage is just to see if you have all the beats covered to tell the story well.

Day 2 – Explore

The director joins the editor in the suite and they review the editor’s cut.

This is a good time to assess how well the cut is telling the story, and whether any new ideas should be considered. Don’t be afraid to use this day purely for exploring the possibilities.

Day 3 – Commit to Choices

This is a good day to lock into creative choices and end the day with all the major beats laid out in the correct progression for the story you’re telling.

If you’re making good progress, this will also be a good day to have a cut screening with a group of people who have fresh eyes on the story.

Day 4 – Sculpt for Tension

With all the beats laid out in the correct sequence, this is a good day for honing the story dramatically. Pay particular attention to how you’re building and releasing tension over the course of the film. Also pay particular attention to how point-of-view is sculpted in each scene.

This is also a good day to get the runtime in scope. Remember principles for compressing screen-time:

  • utilizing entrances/exits to reduce walking around;
  • using parallel action;
  • only showing the beginning or ending of actions.

Day 5 – Fine-tune the Cut

Now we’re getting to down into frame-accurate cutting. Pay particular attention to:

  • characters’ reaction times (when precisely might their reaction to something kick in?); 
  • cutting on movement, especially coming into shots with movement already starting; 
  • cutting out of shots at the precise moment the energy starts to dip; 
  • distracting action close to a cut (e.g., blinks).

Also note that finished titles and credits need to be cut into the sequence today!

Day 6 – Delivery

The morning is for last looks and to quality check the cut. Watching the picture closely without sound is a good way to check for any errors, as you’ll often notice things you missed with sound on.

You’ll picture lock with Andrew around lunch. Then, in the afternoon,  you’ll complete delivery and turnover for sound and color with Ian or Thomas.