An Apprentice’s Crash Course in Remote Video Editing
STARTING OUT AS AN APPRENTICE FILMMAKER
When I started working at Vermillion Films, a video production company based in Birmingham, I had no idea how much of an adventure I was about to go on. As a fresh apprentice with a passion for photography, video, and video editing, I was starting a very exciting journey, entering a new world at a video production company. Vermillion films is proud of its history of developing apprentices. I’d been working in another industry doing what was effectively a job rather than a career and I was keen to make a longer term change. This digital film apprenticeship role represented that for me. From shooting in farmers’ fields to visiting celebrity houses in Kensington, working in film studios with incredibly advanced motion capture technology, to shooting green screen in a tiny office room, it has been a roller coaster from the day I started (July 2022) to now.
Working as an apprentice it’s a common expectation that I’d just be making tea. I can’t speak for anyone else but this hasn’t been my experience of video production. I was hands on pretty much from day one. And working at a video production company I had expected to be mostly doing production work, learning about cameras and lighting. But the nature of my role here means that I’ve had the opportunity to explore much more editing than I expected and it turns out it’s something I enjoy with equal passion. I’ve been learning from and working with Peter, the lead film editor at Vermillion Films. Video editing is something I have found myself really enjoying.
The process of taking footage (which often comes in abundance), and then gradually shaping it into a story is hugely satisfying. There is so much to consider technically, let alone creatively, but it’s so nice to be a part of the process that takes raw footage and turns it into a story, something that has context, and hopefully… that is enjoyable to its audience. On top of this though I’ve found that becoming a better film editor has made me a better all round filmmaker. Although in this case, I found myself editing production work that had been shot by another crew. As it happens, this isn’t the first time I had remotely collaborated on an edit. I had done this before on a startup video production project for Sunswap.
One thing that I have learned to adjust to is that this industry is very fast paced. Sometimes, we have very little time to turn things around, with only a compressed timeframe to plan and then deliver a finished and beautifully polished product. This is especially true if we need to shoot the content as well as edit it. Client deadlines can shift and we must then react accordingly. But, even if time is sometimes a luxury, here at Vermillion Films, we always aim to deliver a brilliant product via a consistently excellent service. Sometimes we just have to race to get it over the line. Ensuring we do everything we can to provide the client with what they need, when they need it, is key to being successful in this industry. This is one of the benefits of hiring a video production company like us. And so, I wanted to explore this with one particular story from my time here. Our tale begins with one of these changing deadlines and in turn, the beginning of a great race…
VIDEO PRODUCTION – FOOTAGE SELECTION
It’s not very often that deadlines shift as dramatically as this one did; it essentially meant that we had one day from getting the footage, to create one three minute hero film and then three one minute interview films a day later. Six minutes of video doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you have to work through hundreds of b-roll clips (all of a professional standard), along with numerous takes from interviews including a whole variety of sound bites, mistakes and camera angles… six minutes suddenly becomes quite a lot of film to put together. Video editing is often counter-intuitive like this. It’s as much about deciding what to leave out as it is what to put in, which means it can take longer to create something shorter.
Footage selection alone takes quite some time to do thoroughly, and we had 522 clips to work through. This meant being ruthless with selection. This is something that initially I found tricky to learn. It is a very important skill however, as we often only have a couple of minutes to get across key messages within the video, so being able to recognise the most relevant content is a very important skill to develop.
So, to begin, Peter and I worked through footage selection together, using Adobe Premiere Pro’s Team Projects, dividing clips into chunks of 50 to select from for our main edit timeline. Whilst I initially worked through B-Roll clips, Peter transcribed the interviews and then selected the key points from each, ready for inclusion in both the main film and subsequent interview cut downs. Our process meant taking only the most relevant and enjoyable footage, then selecting again from that already condensed database of shots. Using markers and colours within Premiere Pro, we could then label and differentiate shots, making them easy to find should we need something specific for the edit.
VIDEO PRODUCTION – SOFTWARE
Above, I mentioned Premiere Pro Team Projects. It’s only through the development of technology that we are able to complete remote video editing jobs, whilst working as a team. The ability to transcribe on Premiere Pro saved us so much time selecting interview content, and then through Team Projects, we were able to work simultaneously on the footage, sharing and updating changes as we moved through our timelines. This saves us a great deal of time, as we could half the workload. Software like ‘Lucid Link’, has allowed us to store edits within the cloud; fully accessible and editable projects, with all assets available to any team member should they need to take over a job. Using Team Projects was a remarkably smooth process, it worked excellently. We had no issues with overlapping each other’s work, or sharing / updating our changes, it really was a great way to work!
VIDEO EDITING – EDITING
Eventually, we had selected the footage relevant to our individual timelines and it was time to add the flesh to our footage skeleton. For me, this was the most enjoyable part of the edit as it’s when we could really get creative and tell the story we wanted to as a team. As Peter assembled his interview footage for our main video, using a copy of his timeline, I worked to create a short but fast paced introduction, no longer than 15 seconds. Once this was finalised, I then started to work on segments of b-roll to fill and overlap with the interviews chosen and created by Peter.
VIDEO EDITING – MAINTAINING HIGH STANDARDS
As the video started to take shape more and more, we realised that despite the higher pressure and quicker turnaround, the content created was enjoyable and still to a standard we were both pleased with. It was a first for us both working together in this way, and I think both Peter and I started to feel quite proud of how we had worked together so smoothly. It’s also something we have learned a great deal from, and have done again since. I think we both really enjoy working together on things, it’s nice to share the creative process, it really is a lot of fun. We had our team at Vermillion Films cheering us on, and eventually, with a little time left in the day for internal amends before client v1, our video was ready. Peter applied the finishing touches and it was sent to client for review.
ENJOYING BEING A FILMMAKER
It may sound silly, but it really did feel great to get this edit done. It wasn’t a particularly complex edit, but due to the circumstances surrounding the video; the change in deadline, a new way of working and really wanting to do a good job for a nice client, it was a trickier task, but a brilliant day at work. Working together was very enjoyable and thanks to Discord, despite the distance between us, our communication was quick and effective. We could regularly and very easily discuss ideas and plans, and as a result, our process worked well. It was a testament to Peter’s knowledge, experience and planning; he made the process as smooth as it could have been.
As a result, by the time our day finished, the main video was with the client for review and thanks to the day’s groundwork and planning, we had made the following day’s edit simpler. Working at Vermillion Films, I have had the opportunity to experience so much, we work with so many different clients in many different fields. From corporate video production, to working on an animated explainer video, I have had the support and time to learn so many new skills, along with the opportunity to apply them in a wide range of circumstances. It has been genuinely fun and exciting and I look forward to continuing to develop within this industry. I am particularly looking forward to getting to grips with more editing and understanding more of creative video production.
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