Okay, it may appear obvious that editorial is the period in which you edit your film, but a lot of people don’t understand the process. When filmmakers are preparing for production, they often forget that at the end of the day, something must be done with the footage.
So let me break it down for you. (I will stick to a digital workflow because that is how most films are shot these days. There are extra steps when you are dealing with actual film.)
First things first – the footage is taken off the camera cards and backed up. This should be done with professional software that can do a check sum. It is never a good idea to “drag and drop.” It’s too risky and way too much is at stake.
The same is done with sound. The two elements – known as dailies — go to a lab or a person to sync all the clips. On films with a real budget, a color pass is done so nobody has to look at the bland footage that comes off the camera during the editing process.
Once the footage is synced, it is handed off to an Assistant Editor who loads the footage into editing software like Avid or Premiere. An Assistant Editor’s main job is to organize the footage and put it in scene bins, find wild sound, and make sure that all the footage is accounted for. This requires a good amount of paperwork.
An Assistant Editor must keep track of the camera reports, the sound reports and puts the script notes in order.
Once everything is organized, the Editor can start editing scenes together. An Editor’s job is to watch the footage, choose the best takes and piece the film together shot by shot.
Editing is a painstaking process that takes many weeks, often months, of drafts and opinions in which the film really takes shape. On most productions, after putting the film together, the filmmakers realize that they need another scene or two to make the story work so they schedule a shoot of “pickups.”