Editing Like an Oscar Winner: Why Learn Avid Media Composer?

by NYFA Instructor Igor Torgeson

Avid Editing

With a new semester beginning, students at NYFA campuses are starting their first introduction to Avid’s Media Composer system.  Hard drives are being formatted, project directories are being created, and folks everywhere are wondering to themselves “What is YCbCr anyway?”

As Post Production instructors, we often get the asked how Media Composer became the software of choice at the New York Film Academy. I can only assume that question is also asked at the many film schools where Media Composer is the required software.

This uniform approach to editing software comes from three basic facts about Media Composer that have been consistent since the 1990’s and look to continue to be true for at least the next five to ten years.

1. Avid Media Composer is the Industry Standard Editing Software.

All of the films nominated the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2018, as well as all the films nominated for Best Editing for 2018, were edited using Avid Media Composer.

If you’re going to be working in feature films or episodic television, Media Composer is simply the standard for editing software.  Post facilities are set up to use Media Composer and that is the expected workflow.

2. Proficiency in Avid Media Composer Translates to Proficiency in Other Editing Platforms

Students sometimes find the first few sessions with media composer a bit challenging, as the interface does very little to inform you what everything is and what it does. This is a legacy of the software’s creation by engineers for technically-inclined individuals.

The thing to remember, however, is that all the other Non-Linear Editing software on the market is at least in some part inspired by or reacting to Media Composer. That means the general workflow of every platform is the same.  Media gets into the software. A window allows the editor to view and listen to the media.  The editor chooses the media to include in the show and places it in a timeline, which can be viewed in another window.  This is the same in every platform!

Once an editor becomes comfortable with this process in Avid Media Composer, moving to other platforms becomes easier, as the switch is simply a matter of finding the same tools in the new software, as well as understanding which tools the new platform has automated or eliminated.

3. Avid Editors Earn More Than Editors On Other Platforms

Of course, success as an editor is first and foremost a result of talent, skill, and experience — whatever the platform. Nevertheless, the data shows that there is a positive difference in income for Avid editors. For students hoping to move into editing, or at least have a gig that can pay well between other projects, Media Composer is the clear choice.  According to Payscale.com, the median nationwide salary for an editor with Avid skills is over $50,000.  For an editor with Premiere skills, $37,475. In Payscale’s survey, Premiere editors topped out at $53,727, top Avid editors made $105,126!

According to Glassdoor.com, Avid Editors in major markets, depending on experience, can expect even higher salaries, getting to over $135,000 annually. The same site currently lists Premiere Editor positions for $40,000 to $51,000.

For gigs and on an hourly basis, Avid Editors expect between $45 and $75 an hour.  Final Cut Pro Editors fare even worse — Glassdoor currently lists a Final Cut Pro Editing position for $20-$22 an hour.

As we saw above, once an editor learns Avid, it’s relatively easy to shift to a new platform.  So not only does an editor have an economic advantage by knowing Avid, in the absence of Avid jobs, it’s easy to shift to another software, even if it means a lower rate for a while.


So with those three basic facts in mind, Avid Media Composer has been the clear choice for editing software.  Avid has also sweetened the deal a bit for students and New York Film Academy in particular.  First, Media Composer is available to students for about $10 a month, which is an enormous discount off the retail price.  Second, Avid has partnered with NYFA to make us an Avid Learning Partner, which allows us to offer our students the possibility of earning Avid User Certification (if they successfully pass the exam).  

With those things together, our goal continues to be giving students a thorough training in Post Production, on industry standard software, with a competitive advantage when entering the marketplace.  And maybe even a passing knowledge of YCbCr.

Our 2018 BAFTA Predictions

While the Oscars are still a few weeks away, the 71st British Academy Film Awards are finally upon us. The ceremony will be hosted by Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley on February 18, at London’s famed Royal Albert Hall.

The BAFTAs are one of the major award shows of the season. Because so many actresses, actors, and filmmakers come from the United Kingdom, the nominations and winners often overlap with many of the Golden Globe and Oscar categories. However, because the Academy is made up of different voters, sometimes the results can be wildly different.

Here then are the nominees for some of the major categories, along with our best guesses at who will be taking home the BAFTA award bronze mask statue this weekend — though like always, anything can happen.

The BAFTA Award
Leading Actress
Annett Bening – Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
Frances McDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie – I, Tonya
Sally Hawkins – The Shape of Water
Our Predicted WINNER: Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird

While Margot Robbie is considered the favorite for the Oscar in this category due to her stellar performance in the wildly enjoyable I, Tonya — the story of Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan isn’t as much of a cultural milestone outside of the United States. This may give the edge to Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, star of Lady Bird, a film with near perfect critical acclaim.

Leading Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread
Daniel Kayluuya – Get Out
Jamie Bell – Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
Timothee Chalamet – Call Me by Your Name
Our Predicted WINNER: Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour

It’s hard to bet against Daniel Day-Lewis, especially in a thoroughly British role that may also be his last. But Winston Churchill is about as legendary as you can get in Great Britain, and Oldman’s performance as the Prime Minister in his finest moments has already won several awards.

Supporting Actress

Allison Janney – I, Tonya
Kristin Scott Thomas – Darkest Hour
Laurie Metcalfe – Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water
Our Predicted WINNER: Lesley Manville – Phantom Thread

While Day-Lewis may not win, his co-star Lesley Manville certainly has a good shot just for being able to go head-to-head with him in several scenes, matching his intensity and emotional subtlety every time.

Phantom Thread

Lesley Manville in Phantom Thread

Supporting Actor
Christopher Plummer – All the Money in the World
Hugh Grant – Paddington 2
Willem Dafoe – The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Our Predicted WINNER: Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

There’s a lot of momentum behind Sam Rockwell this season for his complex performance as a bigoted cop in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. That momentum might be too much for any of the other very talented actors in this category, including co-star Woody Harrelson.

EE Rising Star Award

Daniel Kaluuya
Florence Pugh
Josh O’Connor
Timothee Chalamet
Our Predicted WINNER: Tessa Thompson

Daniel Kaluuya made a huge splash with his haunting starring role in Get Out, but we’ve got to give the edge to Tessa Thompson, the talented American actress who is quickly becoming an A-list movie star thanks to her scene-stealing performance in Thor: Ragnarok.

Tessa Thompson

Tessa Thompson

Baby Driver – Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss
Blade Runner 2049 – Joe Walker
The Shape Of Water – Sidney Wolinsky
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Jon Gregory
Our Predicted WINNER: Dunkirk – Lee Smith

The editing in all of this year’s nominees was impressive, but Dunkirk’s style was a crucial part of the narrative — telling the evacuation of Dunkirk in three distinct timelines cut back-and-forth. The epic World War II film will probably come away with at least one award this weekend, and odds are it’ll be this one.

Special Visual Effects

Blade Runner 2049
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War For The Planet Of The Apes
Our Predicted WINNER: The Shape Of Water

The Shape of Water is essentially a classic romance tale, except one of the romantic leads is a computer generated seven-foot fish creature. By making the character not only believable but emotionally relatable, the special effects team for The Shape of Water more than proved they’re worthy of this year’s award.


Blade Runner 2049 – Roger Deakins
Darkest Hour – Bruno Delbonnel
Dunkirk – Hoyte van Hoytema
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Ben Davis
Our Predicted WINNER: The Shape Of Water – Dan Laustsen

Blade Runner 2049 is a dark horse in both the Special Effects and Cinematography categories for its fully realized portrayal of a near-future America, but The Shape of Water will probably come ahead in both. The film is a visual marvel in multiple ways, and slides between multiple styles and genres with ease.

Adapted Screenplay

Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin & David Schneider – The Death Of Stalin
Matt Greenhalgh – Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool
Aaron Sorkin – Molly’s Game
Simon Farnaby & Paul King – Paddington 2
Our Predicted WINNER: James Ivory – Call Me By Your Name

Paddington 2 is a smash success and both Aaron Sorkin and Armando Iannucci are screenwriting legends, but Call Me By Your Name manages to adapt the 2007 novel of the same name in a way that preserves all its raw emotion that audiences can’t help but be affected by.

Original Screenplay

Jordan Peele – Get Out
Steven Rogers – I, Tonya
Guillermo del Toro – The Shape Of Water
Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Our Predicted WINNER: Greta Gerwig – Lady Bird

Gerwig is making history as only the fifth woman nominated for a Best Director Oscar, and her film Lady Bird is easily considered one of the best of the year. It’s had a tougher time at the BAFTAs, so if the overall film gets recognized it’ll have to be here for its remarkable screenplay.

Lady Bird

Lady Bird

Animated Film
Loving Vincent
My Life As A Courgette
Our Predicted WINNER: Coco

All three films are visual works of art, but it’s hard to bet against Pixar and their soulful, supernatural masterpiece about a 12-year-old boy trapped in the land of the dead.


City Of Ghosts
I Am Not Your Negro
An Inconvenient Sequel
Our Predicted WINNER: Jane

Primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall is a hero and legend to naturists and to her fellow Britons alike. Jane, the 2017 documentary about Goodall, has already picked up several festival and critics awards and will probably get the BAFTA as well.

Outstanding British Film

Darkest Hour
Death Of Stalin
God’s Own Country
Lady Macbeth
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Our Predicted WINNER: Paddington 2

There might not be anything more loved and more British than Paddington 2, a film with a rare 100% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. While all of the other nominees could win as well, especially Irish playwright Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards or the Winston Churchill drama Darkest Hour, the world really needed an adorable teddy bear in a raincoat —again— and Paddington 2 delivered.

Paddington 2

Paddington 2

Denis Villeneuve – Blade Runner 2049
Luca Guadagnino – Call Me By Your Name
Christopher Nolan – Dunkirk
Martin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Our Predicted WINNER: Guillermo del Toro – The Shape Of Water

The Shape of Water leads the BAFTA nominations with twelve total — and it takes a masterful director to bring all of these nominated elements together into a fantastical tour-de-force. Guillermo del Toro already picked up a Golden Globe for his efforts, and while his competition is stiff, he’ll most likely pick up a BAFTA as well — even if the film falls short in other categories.

Best Film

Call Me By Your Name
Darkest Hour
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Our Predicted WINNER: The Shape of Water

It cannot be overstated just how important the Second World War is to modern Britain, and both films in this category dealing with the subject —Dunkirk and Darkest Hour — do so in masterful ways. For different reasons, Call Me By Your Name and Three Billboards have connected with and sparked conversation for their audiences. But The Shape of Water has a slight advantage over its competition with its overwhelming amount of nominations this year, as well as its perfectly executed fairy tale with just enough of a twist to make it unique. It doesn’t hurt that avid movie buff Guillermo del Toro also managed to make the film a love letter to cinema. Look for this film to take home the biggest BAFTA of them all.

The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water

Social Media Mistakes Actors Make

With 2.07 billion active users on Facebook, 330 million on Twitter, and 467 million on LinkedIn, many aspiring and established actors are promoting their work on social media sites.

If you’re hoping to utilize your social media accounts to make new connections and build a fanbase as a professional actor, you’ll have to engage with people on one or more social media site.

With that said, many of us are warned about the potential pitfalls of social media As an aspiring actor, you’ll want to be on top of your game when promoting yourself on social media because each decision you make can impact your acting career significantly.

Want to be ahead of the game? Follow these seven tips and tricks to help create a lasting social media presence.

1) Start Small

There are many different social media platforms, but that doesn’t mean you need to have a presence on all of them. Start with one or two you are familiar with and build your presence on those accounts.

For example, start off by creating your Facebook fan page or Twitter handle. Take the time to learn tricks and techniques that will help you grow a following on those sites before adding another.

2) Stay Away From Controversy

Don’t post anything lewd, crude, or otherwise inappropriate. You are trying to be marketable and professional. Causing controversy results in neither of those things.

Stick by this golden rule: if you wouldn’t want your grandparents to see it, you probably shouldn’t post it. If you’re not sure about a post, get a few opinions from friends and colleagues

3) Remember to Do Basic Grammar Checks

Everyone occasionally makes mistakes, but constant misspellings or incorrect grammar could distract from your acting chops. Remember, if you want someone to take your acting seriously, you have to consider every post you make as a reflection of your professional self.

Remember to carefully proofread your posts and have another person take a glance as well.

4) Mix It Up

Don’t just post all text posts or constantly show off videos. Give your audience variety with text, picture, and video posts. All fans like something different — some may enjoy videos, some pictures, and some may like a little bit of everything.

Make sure you take the time to create fun and engaging posts of all types for the best results.

5) Make Your Posts Meaningful

Don’t post something just to post!

First, consider how meaningful your post is to your “brand.” Does it benefit you or your target audience? Does it contribute something unique and essential to your brand? If not, then don’t post something as filler.

6) Don’t Leave People in the Dark!

While you shouldn’t post something for the sake of posting something, you also don’t want to abandon your social media presence for weeks or months at a time.

Make a regular schedule to commit yourself to and make sure your followers are aware of when new posts will appear.

7) It’s Not All About You

Believe it or not, it’s actually helpful to not talk about yourself all of the time.  Sure, you need to be comfortable with promoting yourself, but you also don’t want to come off as egotistical. People enjoy seeing actors who are compassionate , hardworking, and human.

Brag about your latest role, but also praise fellow actors and productions you recently enjoyed.


Looking for a more permanent boost to your acting portfolio? Browse our acting program and other areas of study.

The Latest Video Editing Trends to Watch

Video editing has come a long long way. From the beginning of the 20th century, when film as a medium began to develop, editing meant simultaneously two things at once: the joining of shots as well as the manipulation of images. Many of the first films made were realist, documentary films, such as the Lumiere Brothers’ “Arrival of the Train,” which fascinated audiences and allowed them to recognize themselves and the places and events around them. Montage style developed as a counterpoint, where Soviet film makers such as Eisenstein juxtaposed contrasting or even unrelated shots to create new meaning. Rathern than tell a linear story, montage sought to evoke emotion. Montage gave rise to the formalist tendency, which began to see any form of video footage as fodder for creating illusions, magic tricks and fantastic worlds, a style begun by George Melies and continued by the Hollywood superhero 3D blockbuster of today.  


Before the digital revolution, linear video editing was done with expensive video tape recorders (VTR) that did not promise quality and was were cumbersome. Later inventions such as the “flying erase-head” and vision mixers made the process easier. But the switch from celluloid to digital incited a fundamental change in the process. Gone were the days of handling magnetic tapes, and with the arrival of premier software such as Final Cut Pro and Adobe After Effects, digital video editing was here to stay.


This is the age of digital. Consequently, the norms of video editing are undergoing a tremendous change. Here, we give you a lowdown on the latest digital editing trends to watch out for.

1. Video Chapterisation Will Gain Popularity

In other words, we’re entering an age where instead of watching videos, we’ll be reading them — and instead of trial-and-error fast-forwarding to find a particular scene, we’ll only have to check the contents and find the right chapter or bookmark. Although most DVDs come with rudimentary chapter divisions, this will become more sophisticated, with careful allocation of sequences semantically, rather than on duration.

2. Your Smartphone May Become A Video Editing Station

Professional video and photo editing software with a multitude of features may become available on smartphones soon, meaning users can shoot a film, edit it, add special effects and title cards, and release it to YouTube, all from a smartphone. Before you worry that your Avid Media Composer skills are wasted, don’t despair: the entertainment industry, while flexible and able to adapt and absorb new trends like these, will still have need of professional editors able to apply advanced skill and precision. Phones will not replace post-production. Instead, digital editors can see this trend as an interesting opportunity to plug into popular culture and play with emerging new media.

Apps such as Adobe Premiere Clip and WeVideo can be used to make home videos or presentations. For professionals there are paid options, such as the powerful Pinnacle Studio Pro developed by Corel, with more sophisticated features.

3. Live Video Editing

Live videos are already a thing — whether you’re streaming a rock show live on Facebook timeline or showcasing a 30 sec clip on Instagram. And live video editing is going to be the next big thing. While it’s still at a nascent stage, with live editors rushing to apply filters or emoji to recorded content or camera switching in TV, you’ll soon see innovative developments in this space. The app Lumify, for instance (only available on ios), let’s you edit video from the moment you start recording, for example changing the white balance or focus exposure.

We’re entering an age where one records and edits simultaneously. Soon, more complex features will become easily available, particularly designed for seamless video transitions so as to make sure the audience does not notice the cuts between shots.

You can expect the video editing industry to boom, and as a digital editor you’ll be expected to know the fundamentals of editing as well as the new trends. Even beyond editing digital content with film or advertising companies, your skills can apply in many new fields — from marketing strategies to social media promotion.

Ready to get up to speed with digital editing and dive into this exciting field? Check out NYFA’s digital editing programs for special video editing courses, year round classes and even workshops to help you to remain on top.


Do the American Cinema Editors (ACE) Eddie Awards Accurately Predict the Oscars?

The Eddie Awards are given out by an honorary society of film editors called “American Cinema Editors” for achievements in editing both in film and in television. Along with acknowledging outstanding work, what makes these awards so special is that they often predict which film will win an Oscar in the same category as well as the much-coveted Best Picture Award! 

So if you’re one of those people who love playing Oscar prediction games and are even willing to bet your money on it, watching the Eddie Awards ceremony is a must. If you’re still not convinced, here we give you examples of 18 years (yes, 18!) when the American Cinema Editors were accurate predictors of the Academy Awards. 

1. 2016: Yes, that’s right. Just last year, the judges of the Eddie Awards awarded “Mad Max: Fury Road” in the Best Edited Feature Film-Dramatic Category. The film not only went on to win an Oscar for film editing, but also five more Academy Awards for sound editing and mixing, costumes, makeup, and production design. So this year, keep an eye out for the film that wins an Eddie in this category, as it’s pretty likely that the same movie will take home some Oscars too!

2. 2003-2011: For almost a decade, the Eddie Awards proved a near-constant string of accurate predictions as to which film will win the award for best editing, and several films won the best picture as well, including “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” in 2004, “Slumdog Millionaire” in 2009, and “The Hurt Locker” in 2010. Even now, the third LOTR film remains the first and only fantasy film to win a Best Picture award, and also holds a record for winning 11 Oscars — in every category it was nominated for (a record shared with “Ben-Hur” and “Titanic”).


Meanwhile, in 2009, there was a fierce debate as to whether “Slumdog Millionaire” or “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” should win. The following year all eyes were set on James Cameron’s 3D extravaganzaAvatar” to sweep the awards as against the low-budget war thriller “The Hurt Locker.” So the next time the rivalry gets tough, you know whom to trust: the Eddie Awards.

3.  1991-1995: The early to mid ‘90s were also a good time for the Eddies. While “JFK” won the Academy Awards for best editing and cinematography in 1992, all the other films to win an Eddie — “Unforgiven” (1993), “Schlinder’s List” (1994) and “Forrest Gump” (1995) — went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture one after the other.

4.  1964-1966: Even during the early years, the Eddie Awards were known for getting the Oscar predictions quite right. From 1964 to 1966, they correctly predicted that “How the West Was Won,” “Mary Poppins” and “The Sound of Music” would win awards for editing and receive a string of nominations. “The Sound of Music” in particular went on to win 5 Oscars, including Best Picture, and still remains one of the most beloved musicals ever made.


So do you think “Arrival” and “La La Land” are likely to win big at the Oscars? And what about animation movies as well? Will it “Moana” or ”Zootopia” that takes home an Academy Award? If you can’t wait to find out, then don’t miss the Eddie Awards  on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017!

What films do you think were the best-edited this year? Let us know in the comments below!

Movie Trailer Editing: How Much Should You Reveal?

“So they’ve basically just shown us the full movie, then.”

It’s a common charge against many movie trailers, particularly in recent years. For whatever reason, it’s becoming common to show so much in the trailer that audiences wonder whether there’s any point in seeing the full cut.

It goes without saying that this is the exact opposite reaction that you want to elicit from your potential audience. Today, we’re going to look at the arguments for and against baring all during your movie trailer.

Warning: potential movie spoilers ahead!

Setting Out the Market Stall

A classic example of this would be the trailer to 2011’s “The Double,” which relies on a central plot twist that Richard Gere is the killer he claims to be hunting…

… something which is completely given away in the theatrical trailer:

Didn’t see the movie? Neither did anybody else. Commercially, it completely tanked (grossing $3m against a $17m budget), and we can’t help but suspect that the tell-all trailer was a deciding factor in the movie’s failure to garner interest.

But there is a case to be made for showing all your cards. Director Robert Zemeckis opines: “We know from studying the marketing of movies, people really want to know exactly everything that they are going to see before they go see the movie. It’s just one of those things. To me, being a movie lover and film student and a film scholar and a director, I don’t. What I relate it to is McDonald’s. The reason McDonald’s is a tremendous success is that you don’t have any surprises. You know exactly what it is going to taste like. Everybody knows the menu.”

Who is Dead?!

A compelling argument for sure, but a counter-point would be that this all applies only to specific types of movies; if you’re dealing in a formulaic genre, it’s generally good to reassure audiences that you’re hitting all the beats they’ve come to expect. Take the “Golden Eye” trailer, for instance — a lot of spoilers in there, but this was a Bond movie. There’s almost an unwritten contract of things a Bond movie needs to deliver, and the trailer is the best opportunity to advertise the fact that all of the boxes are ticked.

The same goes for remakes. The 2013 adaption of the Stephen King classic “Carrie” also had a spoiler-laden trailer, but for good reason; fans of the original needed assurance that all of the iconic scenes (such as the “prom reveal”) would be faithfully featured in the remake.

While Zemeckis makes a good point, unfortunately his movie “What Lies Beneath” probably wasn’t the best type of flick in which to pour every single plot reveal into the theatrical trailer:

It’s okay if you let slip that Tom Cruise will survive a big explosion in a “Mission Impossible” trailer. After all, nobody assumes for one moment that his fictional life is in any real jeopardy, and audiences already know he’ll live to survive for at least another movie for as long as the franchise remains profitable.

But a Hitchcockian-thriller relies heavily on a slow and suspenseful layering of reveals, and is entirely undermined when these reveals are telegraphed ahead of time.

Finding the Balance

Trailer editors working in comedy and horror also need to tread carefully. Viewers are remarkably good at spotting whether you’ve included all of your best gags and jump-scares within the trailer, which can be as much of a turn-off as a “Sixth Sense” trailer that reveals Bruce is already dead.

Ultimately, whether a movie trailer should hold its cards to the chest or bare all really depends on the individual movie itself. Balancing audience expectation and creating intrigue (as well as succinctly communicating what the film is about) is the recipe behind an effective movie trailer.

Gut intuition as an editor will get you most of the way, but consider extensive test screening of your trailer with different audiences to get an indication of whether you’ve struck the right balance.

And we cannot understate how important that balance is. After all, those three minutes of trailer can make or break your 90 minutes of feature.

What are some of your favorite film trailers? Let us know in the comments below!

A Beginner’s Guide to Film Editing Vocabulary


It was Francis Ford Coppola who said, “The essence of cinema is editing.” If you’re an aspiring film  editor, you know your craft matters — and you know it also matters how you speak and think about your craft. We’ve compiled a guide to help you beef up your terminology and learn to communicate about editing like a pro. The following are some fundamental digital editing terms  that editors should know: your concise guide to an editing vocabulary.


A transition where one shot is instantly followed by another.

Continuity Editing

Visual editing where shots are cut together in a clear and linear flow of uninterrupted action. This type of cutting seeks to maintain a continuous sense of time and space.

Continuity Error

When the action or elements of a scene don’t match across shots. For example, when a character breaks a glass window but in a later shot the window is shown undamaged.

Cross Cutting

Technique used to give the illusion that two story lines of action are happening at the same time by rapidly cutting back and forth between them.


The interruption of a continuously filmed action with a shot that’s peripherally related to the principal action.


When the end of one shot overlaps the start of the next one to create a gradual scene transition.


The process of taking raw footage to select and combine shots to create a complete motion picture.

Establishing Shot

A shot that gives viewers an idea of where the scene is taking place. These usually involve a shot from a long distance, such as a bird’s eye view.

Eyeline Match

A technique based on the idea that viewers want to see what on-screen characters are seeing. For example, if a character is looking intently at an off-screen object, the following shot will be of that object.


A visual effect used to indicate a change in place and time. This involves a gradual brightening as a shot opens or a gradual darkening as the shot goes black or to another color. Sound also fades in and out to convey the change.


A wipe that takes the shape of a shrinking or growing circle, depending on if the scene is opening or ending. Rarely used today but very common during the silent era.

J Cuts

An editing technique that allows the audience to first hear audio from a shot, and then see it.

Jump Cut

An abrupt cut that creates a lack of continuity between shots by leaving out parts of the action.

L Cut

An editing changeover between one shot and another in film, where the visual and audio shift at different times. Also called a split edit.

Matched Cut

A cut joining two shots with matching compositional elements. This helps to establish strong continuity of action. One of the more notable examples of this technique is from a famous scene in “2001: A Space Odyssey.”


A sequence of shots assembled in juxtaposition of one another to create an emotional impact, condense a story,  or convey an idea. A famous example is “Psycho’s” shower scene.


Graphics or text that moves up or down the screen. This technique is typically used for credits by having text move from bottom to top.

Rough Cut

The first editing pass done for a film. (The former sentence is not entirely accurate as an Assembly Cut is the first editing pass done for a film, but it depends on how one defines editing, so I think this is o.k.).  A rough cut receives further polishing and editing before making its way out to audiences.

Sequence Shot

A long take composed of one shot that extends for an entire scene or sequence. Usually requires complex camera movements and action. Here is a notable example from GoodFellas. (This isn’t a term that is particularly important for an editor to know.)

Shot Reverse Shot

The alternating of over-the-shoulder-shots, usually used during a conversation between two characters.


The process of adding sound effects and music and/or enhancing the existing audio with effects.


The transition from one shot to another with a visible pattern or element. No longer used in today’s films but very common in early cinema.

Any more important editing vocabulary items to add to our guide? Let us know in the comments below!

How To Edit An Interview For A Documentary

Author: Andrea Fumagalli, Documentary Alumnus, New York Film Academy

Learn more about the Documentary Filmmaking School at the New York Film Academy.

An interview with Phil Lamason for a documentary

Editing an interview is not always easy, but it can be a lot of fun.

The way I approach the task is to take it step by step; it might be a bit tedious at first, but it pays back in efficiency and creativity.

In the end, interviews are storytelling tools. One single interview can be used to tell a feature-length story, as well as many interviews to tell a one-minute story. Let’s just say, for simplicity’s sake, that I have to tell a short story based solely on one long interview. Where should I start?

First, I transcribe the interview. Yes, the whole thing.

It can be a time-consuming job, depending on the length of the interview and how fast one can type, but it allows me to rapidly find any sound-bite, at any given time, without having to listen to the entire interview again. I transcribe digitally, so it takes me a second to search the document for a keyword.

As I transcribe, I also take note of the timecode. I usually do it every paragraph, or at the end of each “thought” expressed by the interviewee. This way, once I choose a sound-bite from the transcript, I can quickly find it in the video. To speed up the process, I use this free software that automatically takes a note of the timecode every time I hit the return button on my keyboard.

After finishing the transcript, I usually take a quick coffee break and stretch my tired fingers. Then, I print out the transcript and go through it again, highlighting the paragraphs, sentences, and sound-bites that could help me tell a story. At this stage I purposely select more than I will actually use, creating a sort of foundation on which I can start building my edit.

Now the fun part begins: I get to “re-write” the story!

This doesn’t mean that I am going to tell a different story from the interviewee; I’m going to tell the same story, but differently.

First, I create a bone-structure of the narrative—beginning, middle, and end—rearranging the order of the interview clips that I had previously highlighted in my transcript. I usually do this “on paper” first, before re-creating it in my editing timeline.

Once I have the story lined up on the timeline, I watch it from beginning to end, looking for superfluous sound-bites. Basically, I ask myself: “How many sentences or words can I take out, and still tell the same story?” I am always pleasantly surprised by how much more powerful a story can become, once it is told in fewer words.

Now, if I have any visuals or “b-roll” that can enhance the story, I use them to cover the jump cuts. I always try to approach “b-roll” the same way I approach the interview; I want to tell a story with it and I would much rather keep a jump cut in, than cover it with a random piece of footage that doesn’t really fit.

I then work on the rhythm, extending or reducing pauses in between sentences or words, and adding music or sound effects if needed. Finally, I incorporate titles, graphics, and lower thirds.

Once I’m finished, I take another quick coffee break and rest my tired eyes.

Then I transcribe the next interview. Yes, the whole thing…