Editing is More Than Just a Technical Skill

Although I have quite a lot of formal training and years of experience, I'm always looking for ways to become a better editor. But when you have a documentary, two commercials, a corporate video, and four events due (not to mention three kids), you don't have a lot of time to spend studying your craft. And, if you're like me, you don't find reading manuals too exhilarating. I need inspiration and it has to be fun. Here are six fun things that I do to become a better editor.

1. Watch Commercials
Commercial breaks on TV are easy to ignore and digital video recorders let you skip them altogether. Start watching and studying them with an editor's eye. Movies take two hours to tell a story, a commercial must tell the tale in 30 seconds. It's all about the edit.

2. Rent More DVDs
Watch for pleasure the first time, but listen to the director's and editor's comments the second. I remember listening to the editor's comments on the movie "Seven" and thinking, "Wow, that was better than film school!"

3. Start Surfing
Don't just be a casual observer on the Web, grab your board and dive in. Join user groups, read blogs, participate on forums and, by all means, ask questions. The Digital Juice Forums are a great place to start, you can ask questions, get answers, learn new tricks and meet some pretty cool people. You might even become a "Juice Groupie".

4. Print It
Pick up a magazine and study the ads, look at billboards and posters. Print ads are a great place to learn about composition and text placement since the concepts are the same for both still and video frames. Figure out what looks good and why, and apply it in your next video.

5. Hook Up the Trailer
Watching movie trailers, like commercials, is a great way to learn. They tend to have fast paced editing, great graphics and cool text effects. Don't be too proud to directly copy shots and compositions that you like in your own work.

6. Make Mistakes
Cartoonist Scott Adams said, "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep". I love that quote. You have to allow yourself to make mistakes and be willing to try new things, even if they don't work. I usually learn more from my mistakes than I do from my successes. So don't be afraid, go ahead and screw up.

Well that's it, six simple things you can do to become a better editor. And you have to admit, it's a little bit more fun than reading a manual.

Matt Janowsky is a video production specialist and is the founder and creative director of Inspire Digital Multimedia.