Finished Online Editing
elevating the production
Finished Editing, or Online Editing, is essentially the process that was followed for years in analog post-production. The Producer, or someone allocated to the job, would sit in a small cubicle with a bunch of U-matic tapes of the shot footage, with timecode burnt into the picture, and two tape decks, a speaker and a little edit controller. They would then run through all of the tapes, make notes on each shot and each take with the timecodes, and assemble edit the program or film edit onto the second deck… then write a long list of in and out point timecodes for the footage, with notes on graphics, correction, effects and so on.
This was then taken to the extremely expensive post house, with a couple of online edit suites, a large machine room full of the master format tape machines (usually one inch for film transfers), a graphics suite and a sound studio. The Online Editor was the gang boss for the facility from his big old console in the Online edit suite. His job was to take that list of numbers and construct the final program, tightening everything up, touching up the color and levels as he went, adding effects and dissolves, pulling in the soundtrack from the sound studio, adding graphics from the graphic studio and generally pushing a lot of mystery buttons! Like the film DP, he had a wide technical and creative vocabulary, and like the DP, he was pretty much the only one who knew what the final program could look like and how to get there.
Today’s Finished Editor is much the same. His job is to take the rough cut of a project that has been done by the Producer or whoever – where the greatest number of hours can be spent at low or no cost putting together just the right storyline and assembly of cuts – and turn it into a slick, perfectly timed finished program.
Usually this means fine tuning the edit, and making suggestions on possible alternative cuts, sometimes it means diving into the structure of the story and finding a more effective route through the plots, and it always involves tightly matching music and dialog to picture, and often completing the audio mix to match what is happening on the screen, adding or fine tuning graphics and titles, creating animation sequences and tuning the look or balance of individual parts of a multi layered sequence.
Then the finishing takes us into the final fine color grading and correction, the application of looks and moods, and finally mastering the program in different formats and codecs appropriate for each possible showing of the video, along with testing these.
So Finished Editing is a multi-skilled discipline that essentially take all of the complicated technical parts of putting the program together based on the story that an Offline Editor, Director or Producer has created. move them over to someone who has the technical knowledge to handle the needs, and the creative skills to form a whole which is more impactful and rewarding for the viewer than the parts.
In the “old school” system the Online Editor was a person who had gone through all of the individual disciplines and mastered each (often including camerawork in the equation), paid his or her dues and could be guaranteed to find the right solution for every project, every time, and keep it all on time and on budget.
In “new school” thinking, this is the role which allows a Producer to pass a project over to an individual or small team, like ours at CLAi, rather than a series of different shops – and know that his vision for the outcome won’t get convoluted or lost, while saving significantly on budget.
Doing this takes years of experience and an instinctive feel for every aspect of a final production – it’s not a level of skill that can be learned in a classroom or off YouTube – and this has to be combined with raw computer and software horsepower to get the job done efficiently. At CLAi we run multiple (well, five to be more precise) very heavy duty and extremely fast computer and rendering systems – and have all of the software programs that are needed to handle any file format and type of edit and mastering.