Editing Someone Else's Video Footage


In the world of video we often aren’t able to be present for every shoot. At first it wasn’t easy for me because I was editing all of my own footage. If not I was at least present when the footage was recorded.

Then I came across some freelance projects to edit. It was confusing at first but I got it together. The first thing I did was gathered all the information I could about how the project is supposed to turn out. I got all of the pre-production information, any storyboards and notes taken from the shoot. I even contacted the client to find out if the vision had changed on the project at all based on what was captured. I thought that may be wise because things change from pre-production meeting before they hit the editing suite.

I reviewed all of the footage regardless of the notes taken on the project. I don’t recommend this on lengthy videos because there could be too much footage and too many takes to review. For films and things that are scripted go straight to the desired cuts that were selected in the notes. The recording that I am writing about is live footage. With live footage it all depends on how much footage there is to watch and keep in mind how long the final cut is set to be.

When the time comes to do the fine editing it’s never a bad idea to contact the one behind the camera. They may have set up a particular shot for a reason. Shots may be set for a montage or a sequence of slides to go together. The Director &/or Director of Photography may want a particular shot for a reason. Maybe it’s set put the audience in a certain mood.

Be sure that the person giving you the footage has it backed up somewhere. Anything that can happen while the footage is in your possession. Create a written agreement to protect yourself from anything happening. State in the agreement that the footage is backup. Have a lawyer review the document so that it is binding.

Also set a limit of exports that you will do so that you are not exporting the same video with minor adjustments five or more times. I typically set the limit to three exports. That way if corrections need to be made on a project then the client will gather all the revisions together and send them all at once. Much is this is true for working as a freelancer or directly with a client.

Hope this information help everyone with their editing.

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Images provided by Jason Smith Stephen Brace and Jason Hargrove