Career as Video Editor?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by macbookairman, Oct 20, 2008.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    Jan 15, 2008
    United States
    Hello All.

    For a long time I have enjoyed editing videos. I edit videos for my school, friends and many other people. Its something I enjoy and am good at.

    Well, its now time for me to start looking at colleges (I'm a sophomore in High School). I have two careers in mind: Aviation (Pilot) and some sort of Video Editing (I would prefer the video editing career).

    Can anybody tell me what exactly I would be going to school for if I wanted to be a Video Editor? (Like whats the major called?) I'm just unsure as to what I would be required to do in college if i went forward with that. Would my classes require me to write and then film/edit? Because my interest is purely to edit video (specifically special effects in movies or just movies).

    Also, are there any good colleges out there for aspiring video editors? I've started researching, but there are so many schools out there its hard to know where to start!

  2. macrumors 68000

    Jul 8, 2008
    Ok here we go.

    Video Editing is a awesome career and it is very fun to do something you love everyday.

    But it is a very hard career to get into and even so it's hard to make enough money to live and buy equipment.

    As far as school it depends on what you want, if you want something formal that you can go to Film School at NYU, USC, or UCLA.

    But if your just looking to go learn the trade and are not worried about doing to much book work just go to your local Art Institute or Full Sail in Florida for Video Production or Digital Media Production.

    During and after school you need to intern and work for free so eventually you can get a job at where you are interning or at least get experience for your resume.

    Remember it's not your degree that matters it's who you know and what you know. Now school is a great place to make connections and gain skills, but the degree is just a blip on your resume, so make sure you meet as many people as you can and SAVE ALL your projects you have worked on.

    Don't burn any bridges or talk bad about anybody in the business, everyone knows everyone.

    If I were you, I would buy a Mac Pro, and a copy of Final Cut Studio 2 right now, and start bugging your local Video Production company or Cable station for a assistant helper type job. It would be cheaper than school.

    Make sure you get good at Avid Media Composer, and Final Cut Pro!! Other programs like Premiere Pro and Sony Vegas may be great for home use or if you have your own business but if your looking for a job you have to know Avid and FCP.

    So bottom line make connections, have a great reel, and know the programs backwards and forwards.

    If you want to work on more interesting things besides Corporate Videos, Weddings, or the local newscast, you might want to figure out a way to move to NY or LA.

    I thinking being a pilot would make you more money and it would be easier to get into LOL.

    Good Luck

    If you have any more questions just ask.
  3. macrumors G3


    Dec 29, 2007
    Southern California
    Strange that I walked into this thread because I was curious what the response would be, only to see that your other option is to be a pilot. I don't know squat about being a video editor, but I do know a little something about aviation.

    And listening to Chaos - being a video editor is surprisingly a lot like being a pilot. You'll spend a crazy amount of money on training, potentially put yourself into a huge amount of debt, just to make peanuts for years and years before you get the experience necessary to work the better jobs. And while college is nice, at the end of the day it's all about who you know - it's a tiny industry. I tell up and coming pilots to go to college, learn about something else you enjoy, and use that as a back up plan. No job in this business is safe, so you're really rolling the dice if you don't have a Plan B.

    Anyway, I don't mean to hijack this thread with aviation BS. If you're curious to learn more about flying, there are a couple of pilots on the board with a lot of experience. Just post a thread in the Community section.
  4. macrumors 6502

    Jan 9, 2008
    The above two post seem to answer you pretty well on about how the different careers work later on, so i'll focus more on what you asked about what you do in school training.
    I am in film school as we speak, and the different major titles depend on the school; but it will usually be film production, animation, or Digital Cinema... an animation major would probably be a great place for you to start as you learn a lot on AE and various other programs but it will also award you plenty of open credits to take other film editing classes... college is all about choice so any major you choose you can still take various other classes (like film editing) alternatively you could go in as a film major, but you will be required to take production classes (directing, cinematography, screenwriting, etc.) you will also take editing classes, and again depending on your school, you might be able to set a focus within production... then you could choose to focus on post work and you will be more in your zone. All in all you will have to take other film courses that you said you aren't interested in, but it would be good for you to take because it will give you a well rounded experience and begin to appreciate the work that goes into these film... also a good thing to do is while your in school make a name for yourself as a good editor... then people making their bigger films will come to you and perhaps bring you on board as an editor... once again it's all about who you know... i'll keep checking this thread if you have any other question about being a film student
  5. macrumors 68000


    Jul 1, 2004
    Most Post-Supervisors will not care where you went to school (or even if you went at all). They care about what you can do. Whatever is the best/easiest way for YOU to acquire skills (by training books, classes, experimentation, etc) is what you should do.

    I'll tell you about my experience....
    I only used FCP in college. While I was able to learn how to edit and develop those skills, I needed to know Avid in the real world. I took a couple classes at a center in Burbank called Video Symphony. They teach classes in any video production software used widely in the industry. These classes were expensive, but were totally necessary for getting me ready to use Avid in a production environment quickly (a crash course essentially).

    If I had more time to learn, I could have bought Media Composer and learned it myself. It is really up to you and your situation what will be best.

    I would call post houses in your area and find out what platform they are using and what they seek in an asst. editor. Then you'll know what to learn and then it'll be up to you to learn it. Many asst. editors work for 2-5 years before they move up to an editor position. But that depends on the level of work you start out on and what you move to.

    I got my degree in Film and Digital Media at UC Santa Cruz. I now work as an Asst Editor at a good-sized production company in Hollywood (started as a logger, then Post PA, then AE). It is fun, but it is definitely a ton of work (and the hours suck).
  6. macrumors 6502

    Jan 9, 2008
    Learning the program is a big part of the process, but it's also necessary to learn some of the "art" that goes into editing... not just the technical part. For this college is a great place to experiment and learn the aesthetics of editing... just my 2 cents
  7. macrumors 68000


    Jul 1, 2004
    Yes, it is good to start learning the art of editing in college (I certainly did), but you learn much MUCH more about it working as an asst editor.

    It is essential that you learn the technical aspects of the different software, tape formats, file formats, media organization, etc first. This will allow you to find work as an AE. Then, as you work, you develop your skills on the creative side of things.
  8. macrumors 68000

    Jul 8, 2008
    yes yes the art of editing!

    That is the most important.

    Shoot I learned how to edit using old Tape to Tape 3/4 inch Umatic decks before computer editing was affordable.

    So yeah learning the programs is one thing, learning to edit is different. ;)
  9. macrumors demi-god


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Hopefully the joy you have is deep rooted because the hours suck, the stress level is high and you will never, ever make as money much as you think you should for the toll it takes on your life. I know other editors that turn down higher profile, very well paying gigs because they don't want all the BS that comes along w/it. And if you move to someplace like LA or NY expect to be poor indefinitely, rejected often, and to most likely fail. Not trying to discourage you but that's just the reality of the situation. You have to be patient, determined and always willing to learn and always willing to fail. W/all that being said I can't think of any other field I'd rather be in. If I won the lottery tomorrow I'd still keep editing I'd just have nicer gear.:D

    The degree would most like be labeled as film or production or something like that. My degree is in radio/tv production. As others have said, where you go is not nearly important as what you do while you're there. Intern and get part time/summer jobs in post/production as often as you can. Many of the first jobs I got in the industry were because of connections I made at, or thru, my university. Big name schools like NYU or FSU aren't worth the money, IMO, because once you graduate you are just one of thousands of job seeking hopefuls joining an already supersaturated field.

    Nobody cares how many student films you worked on, what your GPA was or the name of the school on your degree. They care about what professional work experience you have. A college drop-out w/Production Assistant experience will have a better chance of getting a job and a Valedictorian w/no real world work experience. I know a number of people who won't hire recent UCS grads because they have a rep for being egotistical pains in the ass that have a massive sense of self-entitlement just because their thesis film about gay cowboys eating pudding won best transcendental black & white submission by an American in the Sri Lanka International Filmfest.

    Also, even though you want to focus on post production it's good to get experience writing, directing, shooting, sound recording, etc., because understanding the process as a whole will help you understand what goes into each step and how they all fit together. You might also find out that you'd rather focus on something else besides editing. When I started college I wanted to focus on writing but after working on some projects I found I enjoyed editing more and also really liked shooting. Some of my first jobs were shooting and I was later able to get into post production and editing (where I really wanted to be).

    Effects work is a completely different discipline, although the lower on the food chain you work the more you are expect to know and the less you'll get paid. For example, if you are working at a small production company making car commercials you'll be expected to everything from editing to titles to the sound mix where as if you worked on a network TV show in LA you sole responsibility would be the 'off-line' edit (aka 'creative' edit).

    AFAIK there are no colleges focusing specifically on editing and if there were I probably wouldn't recommend them anyway. Editing is storytelling and being myopic doesn't foster one's creative ability, IMO. Find a school w/a good media lab and a good relationship w/nearby post and production facilities. Even though you want to edit getting a part time job one semester working at a local radio station can still be beneficial because it's exposure to how things work in the real world. Be a sponge. Soak up as much info as you can and participate in extracurricular groups as much as possible (student film groups, the campus TV station, etc.,.). I probably averaged 30hrs a week working on student run films and TV shows while I was in school. While this work may not do much to impress potential employers it can impress your professors and they can impress potential employers.

    IMO I wouldn't run out and drop a bunch of money on a new computer and a bunch of expensive software. Use the school's gear, or an employer's if they willing, as much as you can for a couple of reasons. First, it saves you money. Saving money is very, very important because once you graduate the amount of money sitting in your bank account will be a big factor in determining where you can move to and how long you can keep your head above water. Second, using other people's gear will make you more efficient because you are on the clock (just like you will be in the real world). You won't have the luxury of time and that will force you to become a better editor. Sure, being able to mess around whenever you want can be great (assuming you actually are productive and don't just procrastinate) but excelling under pressure (not just performing, but excelling) is a must. Knowing how to manage your time, being creative even when you aren't feeling creative, and meeting deadlines will keep you employed.

    Embrace criticism. People who don't have anything negative to say about your work are lairs. Have a thick skin. If someone says your work sucks it doesn't mean you suck as a person it just means your current attempt at work sucks. Fix what sucks and move on. Don't expect, or want, people to handle you w/kid gloves 'cause it won't happen.

    I apologize for the rambling nature of this post but it's late and I'm in a bit of a daze.

  10. macrumors 6502a


    Sep 3, 2008
    Osaka, Japan
    hey i was just about in the same situation as you in a way

    the Los Angeles Film School contacted me about my abilities and offered me a oppourtunity to study there however i have not decided to go there yet

    theres also Full Sail College which is 100% completly on the technology these days, Animation, Film, sound, game production, whatever that involves a computer. its located in Florida go check it out.

    good luck, and remember your still a sophomore so you have 1 or 2 more years to decide. here im in my senior year and i got like 2 months to decide where to send in my applications
  11. macrumors 68000

    Jul 8, 2008
    Lethal speaks the truth

    The other thing is when you finish school be humble, even though you just learned a whole bunch of stuff everyone will see you as a novice, if you act like you deserve a job or that your bad ass, you will NOT get one.
  12. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 15, 2008
    United States
    Wow. I can't believe its taken me so long to respond to this thread. I feel bad, as I was given so much excellent advice. But that doesn't mean I ignored your advice. I reread this thread so many times over the past few years while making my decision. But I've decided to go with a Digital Media degree. Over the past (almost) 2 years, I've spent a lot of time working with video. I've broadened my horizons to not just editing (though thats still my favorite), but also to directing, writing, and sound design.

    Most of the video work I've done for school has been super limited by time and acting talent and my resources, so those videos never really turn out too well. But I always learn a lot from each techniques for shooting, editing, and much more. Fortunately, I've gotten a couple gigs doing some editing and creative work too for a recording artist (for use in concerts). Unfortunately I'm not allowed to post it online till the new album comes out and they go on tour (which is frustrating, cause I'd love to share it).

    I've spent a ton of time in FCE and FCP, and feel like I know them pretty well. I've never gotten to use Avid though. I've done lots of research to try to figure out which program is used more, and it seems to me the answer is Avid, but that Final Cut is growing in popularity(?). Not quite sure if thats accurate.

    Anyway, this is a super belated thank-you for the help you guys provided.
  13. macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Tempe, AZ
    At least in LA, about 80% of the post production world cuts on Avid (especially the big shows). More than anything else, it's a legacy thing. But it's important to know both FCP and Avid in big markets. I prefer FCP, but I also know Avid MC for that very reason.

    Most of FCP's popularity remains in the indie realm, where budgets are much tighter. Final Cut Studio bundles a lot of powerful applications for a steal of a price.

    One could exhaustively compare the two NLEs until they're blue in the face, but the fact remains that they're merely different tools that get the same job done.
  14. macrumors 68040


    Aug 11, 2005
    Behind the lens


    Google to find out why...cuz you're in for a shock of your life: they are ripoffs. :rolleyes:
  15. macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Tempe, AZ
    But are they really rip-offs? When it comes down to it, no film school can fully prepare for a career in film, nor guarantee you a job upon graduation. Full Sail and Art Institute are both private, for-profit vocational schools. They're expensive. But I also don't think they even they would make any guarantees on job placement. The film and television industry doesn't work that way...

    I have several friends with degrees from UCLA, USC, NYU, etc. (all reputable film schools) who struggle to find paying work because they have fancy degrees but lack any real work experience outside of student films. I have a film production degree from a community college and I consistently get more gigs than they do. Why? I paid my dues. I did a LOT of non-paying PA and post assistant jobs before and after I graduated - all while keeping a crappy 25-30 hour per week job just to keep my head above water.

    So I suppose school can be important for certain things (like theory and craft), but when it comes down to it, nobody gives two damns about where you went to school. They care about your talent, punctuality and what you're capable of doing.
  16. macrumors 68040


    Aug 11, 2005
    Behind the lens
    Do just a tiny bit of research. Its a ripoff.

    Kind of like Devry, ITT, etc.

    Diploma mills where the actual industry laughs at your resume. They are 100% a marketing place where they market to YOU for tuition.
  17. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 15, 2008
    United States
    Don't worry, I won't be going to either of those.

    Thanks for the info CaptainChunk about how much Avid is used. It will definitely be good for me to start looking into Avid, and going to a school that teaches not just Avid but Final Cut, as it continues to grow. (From what I see on Apple's Final Cut product pages, Final Cut's usage for big projects is growing) One of the schools I looked at only works with Avid. I don't have it high on my list of choices because I think I want experience with as many of the editing tools out there that I can, which I think will be a great thing when I'm looking for a job down the road.

    All of the programs I am considering offer at least 1 semester of interning either at a production company or something similar where I can apply what I've learned and get some real world experience.
  18. macrumors 68000

    Jul 8, 2008
    The biggest problem is that they are way too expensive. But you do learn quite a bit at the schools and yes you can fail the classes. If you want great hands on experience with seasoned pros and new equipment these schools are great. They do exactly what they advertise, prepare you for a entry level job in the industry. Are they worth the price? I don't think so, your better off finding a cheaper college.

    The reason people seem to think schools like this are rip offs is because the credits don't transfer to a lot of other schools and most students don't get jobs in the industry. Well it doesn't matter what school you go to, you probably won't get a job in the industry if you don't have talent or you fail to network.

    I never heard of somebody laughing at a Full Sail or Art Institute degrees, most employers don't care if you went to film school at all. They just want to see your reel. It's all about WHO YOU KNOW so network and intern and work for free.
  19. macrumors regular

    Feb 23, 2011
    I got a RTVF degree in 1989, but then I went to Video Symphony for an Avid Certification program in the late 90's. I'm glad I did both, but if I did it all over again, I'd probably just get an A.A. and then move to tech school, like Video Symphony. I eventually became an instructor there.

    If you are going to go to tech school, I liked V.S. because it was right in the LA area and there are more opportunities for networking with LA professionals, which is probably even more important for securing future jobs. Most of my students are working professionals now. One I know is one of the main editors at the Conan show now. Another edits "Bar Rescue." These are only the ones I know about.

    I firmly believe that the right tech school will help your career. I know this thread is quite old, but I hope this advice helps.
  20. genshi, Jul 12, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2013

    macrumors 6502a


    Jun 27, 2007
    Portland, Oregon
    Very old thread, I'm sure the OP has already made his choice and gone through a program, but for future reference, one option I am surprised hasn't been mentioned yet (and to me, it is the best option if you are strictly looking to be a professional editor) is the Edit Center.

    6 weeks, hands on working and getting on-screen credit on actual films, many of which are award-winning films and in the end you get IMDb credit for the film you worked on.

    From their site:
    Much better than working on student films to earn a four year degree, in my humble opinion.
  21. macrumors 6502

    May 17, 2007
    First off, I love the fact that this thread is nearly 5 years old! :)
    There is a ton of good advice in the responses. I have used FCP7 for a few years and AVID MC for a long long time too. Everything mentioned about both is pretty true.
    I began my editing career in 1985.... And it did take a while to make the $$ I'm making now.
    I started in a Post facility in NYC and taught myself how to edit after hours and weekends... That was when 1" tape was being used.
    I will say this.... There are a lot of good editors out there, and a lot of them are full of themselves, they don't get called for work because people don't like the drama that comes with them being in the edit suite.

    As Ralph Kramden said once on the Honeymooners... "Be nice to the people you meet on the way up.... 'Cause you'll meet the same people on the way down."

    That's the best advice I can offer... As has been mentioned in this thread, don't burn bridges... I've been editing for 28 years, and even though I have a full time job at a top rated syndicated show in NY right now... I continue to get calls for work on a regular basis.
    Let us know how things progress with your career... As another poster wrote... It's a small industry, everybody knows everybody.
  22. macrumors regular


    Jul 10, 2013
    im in the same predicament as the original poster.
    except im a senior in highschool and my time is ticking, and fast.
    i really enjoy editing videos and i would love for it to be my carreer path.
    i have seen all the advice and i thank you all for the great information.
    but i live in SoCal and i fell in love with the concept of "the edit enter"
    and i realized its across the nation. do you know of any programs like that in California? thank you
  23. ChrisA, Oct 6, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2013

    macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    You need a backup plan. Getting work in the industry is no easy. It is a closed system where they only hire people they already know. It takes a long time to break into that.

    So, get a real degree in a real subject and also do film too. Start your own video production company and do work on the cheap for corporate truing and promotions but have a day job to pay the rent.

    I'm very biased having gone to LMU (twice, once as an under grad in the 80's and now I'm back in grad school.) It is an expensive university but the location is great and the people you meet will help. small classes and so on. But if you don't get a scholarship like I did the private schools like LMU or USC are expensive and getting into UCLA is very competitive.

    Work on a bussines degree. You'll need it. To many people know the technical end of their business but not the business end of the business and go broke. USC, UCLA and LMU all three have both excellent business and film schools. But if you are just now thinking about this you are a bunch late. You will have to hang out in a community collage for a year while you apply to the other places.

    The better schools will want to see a "portfolio" of your work. Even if it is still photography and painting or any other creative non-film stuff. They will want to interview you and admission will be competitive. In fact that is how to know the difference between a "rip-off" degree mill and a real school. The rip-offs are begging for your cash and to sign up "now" the better places have a line at the door and they are selective in who they take.

    Even if you don't want to go to the best places (the thee I listed) take a campus tour and talk to the admissions councilors. You need to learn about schools and see several. So get on-some campuses and look inside the buildings all of them will answer questions.

    I do admit bias. Butyou want to study in a small group setting with people who work inthe industry and you need a BACKUP plan and a strong background in business.
  24. macrumors regular


    Jul 5, 2012
    East Coast of the US
    Most of this is going to be me talking out of my ass but whatever.

    You really shouldn't decide to go into this field if you haven't gotten a taste of what it is like. See, if you just edited a 5 minute video about all your cool video games you just got in iMovie, WMM, Sony Vegas, Pinnacle Studio, or even even FCPX, holy hell, That's not a taste of the industry. Get your hands on Premiere or FCP 7, think of a complicated project to do, and put yourself on a deadline. Try to make it. Then finish it, and when it looks like ass because you used templates, abused keyframes, used default text, and all the noob editing tactics, do another complicated thing. Be determined to make it look better, use the same deadline, all the same things: but make it better. Keep doing this multiple times, when you see something in dropdown menus, google it. To use a program (ESPECIALLY an editing program) to it's full potential, it really takes someone that is curious by nature. Do a lot of editing, find your style, then refine it to the point where it still has personality but there aren't very many flaws, make it look nice, have people ask you questions on how do did it. Think out side of the box, do things that you couldn't do very straightforwardly if you can get a better product. Here, and only here, is where you should release stuff to the public (YouTube, Facebook, your crappy tumblr, even freaking Vimeo.) Editing is a high stress thing, and you have to be able to get back on track from your procrastination. It's not just having the concentration to dick with iMovie every week, it's having to work efficiently, with tons of stress, and not loose quality with what you end up with in that versus what you end up with something you did out of pleasure, enjoyment, and something you're legitimately proud of.

    And yet, for some, dumb, asinine reason, Us editors still love it :p
  25. macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    I have to party disagree. Learning the software is something you have to do but it is like if you want to write a novel, yes you need to learn the word process but mush more importent is that you need to have some ideas that others people will pay to read. In your case you have to be such a good visual story teller that peole will pay to see your work

    The software does NOT MATTER. we used to do this with a film cutter and glue, literally the cement stuff that comes in a little bottle. We had to bevel the edges and apply the stuff. The talent back then was not being really expert with glue just like now the talent is not knowing some software. Heck my 15 year old daughter taught herself FCP in a few weeks. Learning the software is like learning to work a word processor or a glue bottle.

    The harder parts are things like pacing and if you show the person speaking or the one who is listening and how long to keep that medium shot on the screen. That is where the editor earns his money. Yes you might develope a "style' but always you are working for some one else. So you need to be able to work in his style.

    Film School is a good place to learn this. That and do 100+ projects.

    Also as was said here, have a plan B that pays the rent until you make it big

Share This Page