VoiceTalks AV Series: What does an editor do?

4 min read

Are you setting-up a team to helm your audio-visual production and you’re wondering: what does an editor do? Then read on! As we’ve made a point in saying in the other parts of our AV Production Series, the talented people you assemble as members of your team may wear a multitude of hats. Hence, the editor you choose is no different. As a result, all things visual — especially visual storytelling and overall visual impact — lie in the hands of the editor.

What exactly does an editor do?

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The editor maps and builds your visual content by putting it together like pieces of a puzzle. Working hand-in-hand with the director, the editor needs to accurately reflect the director’s original vision and translate the script onscreen in the best way possible. The editor also does a comprehensive analysis of the audiovisual elements and ensures that everything comes together seamlessly.

Consequently, the editor is in charge of ensuring that the final product is an accurate reflection of not only the production brief, but also the original intention of the executive producer and director.

Types of editors in an audio-visual production

Because the field is so diverse, editors tend to specialize in the different mediums and types of audio-visual productions. Broadly speaking, these categories are:

Advertisement/Commercials editors

Maybe you’re creating an advertisement for your new product. In that case, you should hire a commercial editor. This person will certainly be well-versed in what ticks and what doesn’t in a commercial. S/he will also be able to advise you should you be uncertain regarding the variety of visual elements involved so you can achieve maximum impact with your project.

Corporate training videos editors

Corporate training videos are very different from entertainment audio/video production. They need a good understanding of how training sessions work and how employees are likely to learn best. This is where someone specialised in editing corporate training videos is important. Style, tone, and pace are very different from a commercial and yet storytelling remains paramount.

Feature films editors

Feature films can be particularly challenging to put together well. Make no mistake: bad editing can completely ruin even the best of filmic storylines. Likewise, don’t forget that in many instances, long-form documentaries fall into this category as well. You’ll need to work with a specialized feature film editor to get truly captivating results.

Music editors

While the emphasis of this article is on video and the visual elements of a project, we thought we’d just mention a music editor too. Although sound engineers are often music editors as well, it’s not always the case. Music editors may require an understanding of musical theory and musicianship which sound engineers don’t always have.

Because music adds immense depth and layers to a visual production, you may need the services of a trained and qualified music editor. This type of editor will have experience working with music production companies, artists, and orchestras. They’ll know how to select, time, and trim musical compositions to best serve the mood and message of your video. Never underestimate the power of music or the enormous impact it can have on your project if it passes through the hands of a skilled music editor.

Television program editors

Television shows are a genre all their own. Like with films, there are styles and techniques involved that have been tried and tested over time. If you’re creating a television program, hire the services of a person who knows how to edit episodes to form a cohesive whole — particularly if you’re dealing with a series of programs. An experienced TV program editor can work wonders!

Social media content editors
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These days, most content ends up online and especially on social media. If that’s where your projects are heading, it’s well worthwhile engaging an experienced social media content editor. Social media visual content is often very short-form, so to achieve maximum impact in the little time you have at your disposal, it’s best to get someone who has specialised in this type of content.

Core responsibilities of an editor on an audio-visual project

The editor works with other members of the project team – i.e., the director, producer, casting agent, make-up & costume directors, lighting & sound directors & actors – to bring the audio-visual piece to top shape.

  • Initially, the editor collects the project specifications and understands what the final cut should look/sound like.
  • Next, he collates all the raw shots and music pieces into his computer. He checks each section of footage/recording for conformity with quality standards & specifications.
  • Then, the editor starts to piece the footage together in the right sequence.
  • After that, s/he identifies any unwanted sections and will remove them from the sequence to make the piece tighter.
  • If there is any distortion in the audio/video, the editor will use editing tools to fix these issues or call in the sound engineer to do so. If there is any need for computer graphics or special effects, the editor will add those elements and flourishes to the project.
  • Finally, the editor submits the draft piece to the director and producer for their approval.
  • If any edits have been requested, the editor also makes those changes until the piece receives unanimous approval from all the relevant decision-makers.
Additional responsibilities of an editor

Apart from the above responsibilities, an editor may also help you with the following tasks:

  • Re-writing dialogue if the scriptwriter is unavailable.
  • Writing/editing subtitles or transcripts for videos.
  • Providing advice on shooting high-quality videos/audios.
  • Suggesting selection of backdrop/location, character clothing, music etc.
  • Improving the quality of the final audio/video product.
  • Optimizing the piece for different channels and mediums.
How does an editor add value to your project?

Just like a director gives your audiovisual production its direction and a voice actor brings your story/characters to life; an editor whips your production into shape, so that it is aesthetic, musically-perfect, engaging and enjoyable to all viewers and listeners.

He does this by:

  • First of all, identifying the mistakes and weaknesses of your production.
  • Correcting the issues to make the piece perfect.
  • Aligning the audio-visual production to your company’s goals and requirements.
  • Making the piece more relevant to your customers/audience.
  • Suggesting appropriate measures that can minimize the need for re-shoots.
  • Helping you reduce project expenses by taking the right production decisions throughout the project.
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Tips to select the right editor for your audio-visual production

  • First of all, check the editor’s background, experience, and portfolio of work. What type of editing does he specialize in? What tools is he comfortable using? How many years has he worked in the field?
  • Evaluate his visual expertise, creativity and company-fit.
  • Speak to previous collaborators to check for the editor’s soft skills – can he work in a team, is he open to feedback, is he punctual/disciplined etc.

And finally, we wish you the greatest success — and don’t forget that Voice123 is by far the best place to book the voice actors you need!

(This article is one of a six-part series; the other articles cover: What does a producer, a director, a casting agent, a scriptwriter and a sound engineer do? Don’t forget to have a look at them as well!)