Today we have a feature article on television editing, written by Sindi Myeza. Sindi works as an editor for CNBC Africa, and this is her colourful take on television editing:
I’ll be honest with you, I never liked editing. In fact I hated it. It was time-wasting and dull to me. I mean, the whole day? Sitting in this dark, soundproof room? Putting what producers, directors and cameramen have gone out and experienced? Nope, not for me. It made sense in theory but practically – a big NO!
So I would always get someone to edit my work back at the Durban University of Technology because to me, I was a director. I would pride myself in that thought. I know what I want in my mind; the editors will work their magic and voila… we’re good to go.
Fast forward…I’m out of D.U.T; I have big dreams to conquer the TV industry as a director. I will travel the world and do awesome things. Well at least that’s what I thought. To my surprise, getting into the industry is a slow and tedious process and there are many channels that you need to follow to get there. When I found myself in the big city of Johannesburg, working for a company called Summit TV at Avusa, I started off as an Assistant Studio Camera Operator. It was ok for a while and I stomached as much as I could.
I then moved to operating the sound desk. The next process would be, I either edit to eventually become a director some day or I keep doing the technical stuff forever. So I started training for editing the evening news on a basic system called Pinnacle. I knew it well because we used it at DUT. It was fun actually. I then realised, “hey, I’m actually good at this”. Putting the whole insert together was awesome. Technically it was the first time I actually did proper editing. Months later I moved to the company where I’m currently working, CNBC Africa or ABN as they call themselves these days. I was excited because it was a new company that had arrived in SA.
They had the new systems that everybody was raving about, Final Cut Pro. …Nice, this should be interesting. I loved learning the new system. Because there were other editors in the same boat, the spotlight wasn’t on me. It allowed me to experiment with editing and to develop my style. Immediately it dawned on me. I love this. I love editing. This is not hard or stressful for me at all. It’s fun. I get to tell the story the way I think is best. I get to choose the pace of the show, pick the music, set the tone and feel of the insert… well with the help of the producer of course!
Editing is about story telling. Period! You can take anyone from the street and teach them how to edit, but you can’t teach them how to tell a story. In editing there is no wrong or right. It’s always somebody’s point of view. For me it’s not cutting and pasting. It’s taking the producer, director and even cameraman’s vision and bringing it to life. All these people had an idea of how it would look in the end, but you make it possible for them. I’m a good storyteller and in order to be an amazing editor, you need to love producing and directing. Otherwise you’ll be a button pusher for the rest of your career.
A good editor is one that knows everything about the production just from looking at the footage, without a script and without a producer on their back. You must be able to be a good story teller so that you are able to set the scene, introduce your characters and build the suspense. Then at the right time, hit them with the climax and go easy with the ending, without them noticing the process. For me, editing is part and parcel of who I am. I wake up and I edit in my head…what I’m going to wear, eat or do that day, while I’m still lying in bed.
Being a TV editor means your pictures need to tell the story on it’s own before the voice over or natural sound. Viewers might have their volumes down when they’re watching TV. If they can follow the story just by looking at the pictures, they will take interest and actually pay attention. “Audience ratings.” I’ve come to realise that what makes an awesome show is that if it’s not live, it’s edited!