Makin’ Movie Magic

 Since we returned from Uganda a week and a half ago, it has been go-go-go, non stop editing. The journalism media lab has become our second home- I even took a power nap on the couch in the girls bathroom yesterday. 

 This is my first real exposure to film editing, and three things that I can say for certain is that making a movie is…

-very complicated

-very time consuming


-very, very fun and rewarding. 

The process is basically one giant puzzle. You need to look at all the pieces of film and figure out how they are going to fit together. Since we had 14 people all running around Uganda with cameras, we ended up with a lot of film (we’re talking close to 130 hours of it…) Our final version of the documentary will most likely be around half an hour long, so it is quite the challenge to pick out the most important and compelling clips and pieces that will help us tell the story. 

 Although it is an incredibly technical process, and it’s true that mere fractions of a second can make all the difference, I have been surprised to discover how much of the editing process is intuitive. Sometimes, you just know what clips you need and how to arrange them, and the sequences seem to almost create themselves.

Ever since Tim first showed us the principles of editing, I have not been able to look at any video the same way. Movies, commercials, T.V. shows, Youtube videos- it is now impossible for me to watch these without noticing the editing behind it. I have become convinced that the editors of movies are the true movie stars. And what’s the best mark of a good editor? That their hours of cutting, arranging, and re-arranging fit together so seamlessly that the viewer doesn’t even notice the changes. 

For instance, in this trailer for the next Harry Potter movie, there are close to 100 different clips of video (I counted 89, but some of them were too fast for me to even notice.) In addition to that, they are compiled in a way to go in time with the music and create drama, suspense, and most of all, anticipation. Now that is magical.

 I’m also starting to realize that there are few things as satisfying as watching the final video project come together- the fruits of our labor. Although we have only seen rough cuts of the film, and Tim and Peter havn’t come in and fixed all the super technical aspects yet, it really feels like a movie! This footage of the sights and sounds of Africa are no longer trapped inside a camera or computer; they are part of a documentary, ready to be shared with the world.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *