Posted by: San Francisco Film Society
Welcome to the editing room. This collection of tutorials will give you the technical skills and theory that you need to make great movies with your class. Like any software, the editing programs become easier with practice. Make sure that you cut a few films on your own in the software that you’ll be using before editing with your class.
A great editor is as much a storyteller as a screenwriter, director, or producer. In fact, editing is essentially the process of finding a movie in piles and piles of footage. The rules of classical editing allow editors to create a cohesive narrative in which cuts are invisible to the audience through conventions such as the 180-degree rule, cross-cutting, and shot-reverse shot. A more experienced editor might work capably with montage in which shots are connected through ideas rather than preceding action. In the digital age, non-linear editing is the most efficient way to edit a film, and a variety of programs and platforms—including iMovie, FinalCut Pro, Avid, and Adobe Premiere—exist to make the editing process simple and intuitive.
These two YouTube videos from The Film Lab give a great introduction to the principle and practice of non-linear editing. They’re only a few minutes long, and we recommend watching them before you begin the technical tutorials for your classroom software:
If your class is using Mac computers or iPads, you may want to use the built-in iMovie software to edit your projects. iMovie is easy, and it contains a simplified version of many of the features of professional editing software. It’s a great starting point and often the simplest way to begin classroom editing. Below are a few tutorial sites for current and recent versions of iMovie.
View Apple’s tutorial for the current iMovie.
If your classroom has PC computers, or if you want to edit in a program that has greater flexibility and functionality than iMovie, you might consider the wide variety of freeware software available for download online. Each of these has different strengths and slightly different features, so do your research and choose a program that fits your classroom’s needs. Freeware and open source software often have great documentation, including tutorials, help forums, and technical support—right on the product’s website.
If your school has access to more advanced editing softwares like Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, or Avid, you can consider working with your students in one of those platforms. Working with a professional-grade editing software will introduce your students to some of the skills required for a career in film, but these softwares carry a steep learning curve. If you decide to introduce your students to a professional platform, be sure to dedicate a full unit to learning the software and experimenting with its capabilities.
A plethora of tutorials in Final Cut Pro (version 7 and version 10), Adobe Premiere, and Avid are available online. Search for the particular skill set that you are trying to learn, since these softwares have wide-ranging capabilities (e.g., how to create transitions in Final Cut Pro, or how to edit audio in Premiere). If you have resources to devote to this project, you may consider opening a $25 monthly account at Lynda.com, an online library of tutorials created by professionals in a variety of industries. Lynda.com offers a free trial for one week, so if you plan ahead, that might be useful.