Editing Process – The Rough Cut

Today me and Gergana started going through all the footage. Overall,   the footage looks good and  we got some really nice shots in there.  All the storyboarded shots have been filmed as well as other extra shots that will be useful in the edit, even if not storyboarded. The lighting  kind of ruined some takes of the picnic scene, where the acting was really good , but that was the best we could get and now we have to work it out with what we have got. However, if  there will be anything  that we will  definitely  need  for a scene , and we’ll think that what we have already got is not good enough, then we will just go and reshoot that scene.

Editing software

An important detail  that we didn’t think too carefully about was the format of the video files that we have filmed on the JVCs. There are two options on the camera’s settings: mp4 or quicktime format , and our group mate Gergana suggested it was better to choose mp4 instead of quicktime, as this type of files would be compatible with macs and PCs as well.  Her intention was good, because she  wanted to  make sure we can work with the footage on our PCs , in case the Macs would  not available. But there is one thing that none of us thought about: Final Cut recognises only quicktime files, and not mp4. We could have  converted our files , but we considered it is better not to do it, as it would have been a big waste of time and the high quality of the footage would have been lost as well. So  we have decided to edit our film in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.

First steps

Before we even begun editing,  I started to visualise a possible version of our film in my  mind , thinking of what shots we could use. Then  me and G have discussed , just to make sure we both have a clear sense of  how the video  is going to look like.

We did keep log sheets when filming, but because it was the first time when we’ve used the JVCs  for a  proper shooting, the camera operators forgot to keep a record of the  memory cards they have used , so the log sheets were not too helpful  later on, in the post production stage.

When going through the footage, firstly I started to rename all the clips by their content, and then I have organised everything in different folders, representing different scenes of the film. Meantime, Gergana started to drag all the files in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 and to organise them by their names into separate bins.  Once the footage has been sorted,  we started to watch all the takes from each scene, trying to decide which one is better. We have also started to get rid of unnecessary footage and rename clips, depending on the  position of the camera, on how good the acting or the lighting was.  We didn’t care too much about the sound, as we knew that we’ve got separate files with all the sound.

As Dancyger  states in his book , ‘The editing  process can be broken into two stages:  the stage of assembling the shots into a rough cut and  the stage in which the editor and the director  fine tune or pace the rough cut transforming it into a fine cut.

So we first  started to work on our assemble edit, by dragging clips onto the timeline and put them in a very rough order based on your pre-production paperwork, such as  the  storyboard  and the shot list. At this stage,  we didn’t add any transitions on our  video and sound clips. We just arranged the cuts in a decent order because we  wanted to see if there is a story in there and if we can actually make a film from the footage we had. And we had indeed. The film was in there, but it was quite  hard to follow the story. Also, the film was more than 10 min long, and even though this was just a rough cut, it was  far too long. So we have decided to eliminate some parts that were irrelevant to our story (e.g. simon coming in the store, simon serving eggs to a random customer, simon  swapping shifts with another worker). After doing this, the film started to make a bit more sense.

By getting rid of  footage, we  actually followed  a set of rules known as continuity editing. As our lecturer Clifton stated during one of our lecture, ‘continuity editing is a type of editing that gradually evolved from the beginning of cinema.’ Just as early filmmakers  discovered  in the past, we have realised that  we didn’t have to show absolutely everything in a narrative , in order to make it understood by the audience. On the contrary , by compressing time and leaving out certain events  that were not relevant to the story being told, we could produce a more dramatic narrative, that  could be even more appealing to the audience. And this is exactly what we did.


After  showing our rough cut edit to our lecturers, we got some really helpful feedback:

  • Always  choose to record in  quicktime format when setting up  a JVC. It is better to use Final Cut Pro when editing, as more support  can be provided from uni staff

This is definitely something that I won’t forget in the future and will always check before filming.

  • ‘There are some beautiful shots  in there’

It was really nice to hear this,  because personally, I have noticed only the  flaws in our footage, such as bad angles of the camera, the camera movements,  the framing – missing parts of the shot, or bad acting , bad lighting, distorted sound.

  • We have to make full use of footage that we have got instead of focusing too much on  the shots that don’t look nice, and maybe could be eliminated

A good example would be  our  initial, estabilising shot.  Our director Sam, wanted to have  a shot of the Costcutter sign outside the store,  zooming out and panning down on  a wide shot of the whole store, with Simon coming in the shot and getting inside the store. Unfortunately, all the takes of this first  shot  were  so  bad that we couldn’t use any of them. But do we really need this one particular shot? None of us really thought about that, until  one of our lecturer opened our eyes. We don’t really need to show that  our main character works  in Costcutter, or that the action takes place in a store, as it is bleeding obvious in all of the other shots that we have

  • We need to be careful with the sound. The background noise in the original sound is too noisy. 

We have to start going through all the sound files that we have recorded on the Marantz and  see if these could work better. If not, we  may want to re-record all the  dialogue  in the TV studio , and then sync it with the original sound and also re-record  some plain  ‘shop’ noise that we could use in the background,  throughout the whole film.

  • When starting to polish our rough cut, we need to pay attention to the continuity that results when two shots are juxtaposed.

This also reminds me of  Dancyger’s observation : ‘The second shot must have some relationship to the first shot to support  the illusion of continuity’ from one of his books, called ‘The technique of Film and Video Editing‘.


About teenspirit

Hello! :) I am an enthusiastic and ambitious student in Media Production, with relevant work experience, through which I developed excellent team-work skills and a good knowledge of the media environment.
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