What does an Editor do?
Film editing is the process of putting together scene clips that were shot during principal photography or second unit production. During pre-production, the editor works closely with the director to establish the film's look, style, and feel. Once filming is initiated, the editor starts assembling the rough cut. The scenes are usually shot out of order, so it is common for an editor to begin splicing together a scene from the middle or end of the script before they even start editing the beginning. As they assemble the rough cut, the editor makes notes for the director and director of photography and notifies them if they're missing a shot or any technical issues. The editor should have a rough assembly ready for the director's pass by the time production wraps.
During post-production, the director and the editor work closely together to bring the director's vision to life-- known as the director's cut. From there, the producers give their input before approving the final picture lock. The post-production supervisor then passes the picture on to music and sound. The editor stays involved until the end, just in case the picture needs to be adjusted to the score or sound during the final mix.
Editing is both a creative and technical job. The editor must tell a compelling story by understanding how to utilize editing software such as Avid, Adobe Premier, Final Cut Pro, or Resolve. They also must understand how to use the visuals, sound, rhythm, pace, and psychology to help the story unfold intelligently—keeping the viewer interested and on edge.
What does a First Assistant Editor do?
The First Assistant Editor is the Editor's right-hand person throughout each stage of production. Their primary task is to liaise with other departments, such as camera and sound, on the delivery and technical specifications of the daily rushes. When the dailies arrive, they check the footage and note any technical problems.
Their responsibilities also include:
Synchs the visual and audio footage
Backs up the footage daily
Files camera and sound reports as well as scripty notes
Exports weekly assemblies to supply sound, music, and visual effects departments
Sometimes asked to do an assembly cut