Post-production – Edit It!

Time to EDIT.

It’s time to edit our footage. Editing is the process of taking all of the short clips we shot and putting them together. When we edit, we want to have a certain flow and pacing. Sometimes we may only need a few seconds or even a few frames of a shot to make it work in the sequence. Gather all your footage on your hard drive and organize it by category. You may want to put all your scene locations together in one folder or perhaps break the footage up into sections such as Beginning Middle and End. This will help when we edit with our selected software.

The software I recommend is whatever software you have access to. If you do not own a paid version, then I would recommend downloading Da Vinci Resolve. It is free software that runs on both PC and MAC computers and is compatible with both. However; you may need a fast computer to run it so keep that in mind before going too far. Perhaps do a quick test with the software before diving in too deep. You’ll need to create an account first in order to download the installation file, but it’s totally worth it.

Other software you can use is Adobe Premiere, Avid, Final Cut Pro, Windows Movie Maker, iMovie, Sony Vegas, and many more. Again, the best software is whatever is available to you at the time. You can even find a few apps on your phone. I’ve even used Google Photos to edit a very small clip so anything is possible.


When you assemble your footage, you’ll want to put everything in order as your script shows. Once all the scenes are in place and the scenes are in sequential order, this is called, The Rough Edit.

Don’t worry about fine-tuning just yet but focus on getting a full version of your film. It will most likely be Waaaay over your time limit. If we are shooting a 6-minute movie, it may very well be 12 minutes long. Also, don’t put much time into adding any kind of sound FX or music just yet.

Once the rough cut is finished, save a new copy of the project sequence and this will be your first Fine Cut. You’ll want to trim out all the dead space, extended reactions, or perhaps bumpy moves in the camera or even cut out a glance from your actors. By this time, you’ll probably have watched your film 2 dozen times by now.

Keep chopping it up. If you still cannot get it below your 6-minute mark, perhaps consider 2 things. 1) Does this cut deserve to be in the film? 2) If I took this scene out, would it change my film?

Sometimes entire scenes will need to be removed as it may not serve any purpose to the story. This happens all the time in films so don’t feel bad.

Adding Audio and Sound FX

Now that the film is under 6 minutes we are close to a locked cut of the film. This is the point where you are the happiest with your film and it’s ready to be sweetened with Sound FX, Music, and proper audio mixing and if you are bold enough, VFX (CGI visual effects). As you mix in the sound FX your actor’s lines of dialog are always KING. If we can’t hear the dialog, we don’t know what the story is about.

So, be sure to lower any sound fx, music, or distracting sound that prevents us from hearing what the actor is saying. It’s a delicate dance between Dialog, Music, and Sound FX. Watch your audio levels too as you don’t want to hurt our audience’s ears.

If an actor’s dialog cannot be heard, you may want to reconsider re-capturing their lines again in an isolated area of your house. This is called, ADR. (Audio Dialog Replacement). Record the actor’s lines and then use that audio file to replace the file from the video footage. This could be a lot of work if all your actors need to be re-recorded so it is very important to have clean audio while on set. This is why we turn off the TVs, AC units, quiet locations, etc.

Oh No!! Unlock the Film?

Our film is almost done! BUT… we have an issue with one of the scenes and we need one more shot!! Can we go back and re-shoot? Can you cover this by a Voice Over that is recorded later? Is it worth the extra time and effort to reshoot a scene and if so, we are now “Unlocking” our film which means all of the hard work in Audio will have to be adjusted. So, make sure the film is in a great place and an unlock needs to be avoided at all costs if possible. This is completely up to you. Perhaps you have your locked cut and you are ready to show it to your friends and family. They find an issue in your story, or perhaps they have some feedback. This could also unlock the film too. That choice is completely up to you. You also have the option to “Sit” on a film for a few days and come back with a fresh mind and you may want to make changes after that or choose to roll it out.

Music Score / Soundtrack

The film is almost ready to send to the world. But it needs music!! Do you know anyone in your family who can write music? Do you write music? You can find music online that is royalty-free but just be sure you get the proper permissions. This could prevent you from making money from your project or prohibit some deals in festivals so you always need to make sure your music has the proper permissions.

Sometimes a film just needs a good song. Do you have the rights to use a song by a major Pop Artist? Heavy Metal Band? Probably not. Do you know anyone who’s in a band? You can always ask if you can use their song in your film but be prepared to send a cut to them. Keep in mind, they may so no, but they very well may say YES! Boom. Score.

Export / PRINT It.

Export your final film. With Da Vinci and most editing software, you have the ability to export in custom formats specifically for YouTube, Vimeo or other streaming services.

Once you have your final film, open it up and watch it. I bet you’ll find a mistake at this point and that’s OK. You then have the choice to open the project back up and change or you can simply publish it as is. That choice is always up to you. (or the producers)

Congrats on finishing your film.

Filmmaker Status: Unlocked.

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