What Does a Freelance Video Editor Do?

Dan Cavallari

Before a film, television show, or other video hits the screens, the raw footage from filming must be edited. In some cases, this work is done by a freelance video editor, who is a professional that contracts out to various businesses to take on the editing phase of a film production. This professional will be hired on a contract basis, which means the freelance video editor will not be an employee of a film studio, but rather an independent contractor who will be paid by the project.

In some instances, a video editor may physically cut and stitch film reels together to make a complete and cohesive film.
In some instances, a video editor may physically cut and stitch film reels together to make a complete and cohesive film.

The basic job functions of the freelance video editor have changed since the advent of digital technology. In the past, the editor may have been responsible for physically cutting and stitching film reel to make a complete, cohesive film. While this may still be the case in some circumstances, more often the freelance video editor will work with computers and software to cut, add, or rearrange scenes in a video according to the director's instructions. The editor generally will not make creative decisions about the film itself; instead, he will make necessary changes according to the stylistic direction of the director. The editor may, however, add post-processing effects to enhance the quality of the video.

A freelance video editor will work with computers and software to cut, add, or rearrange scenes in a video according to the director's instructions.
A freelance video editor will work with computers and software to cut, add, or rearrange scenes in a video according to the director's instructions.

If technical problems arise, the freelance video editor must address them quickly and effectively. If, for example, a piece of filming equipment is present in a scene in a movie, the editor may be able to make cuts or transitions that effectively hide that piece of equipment. It is the primary responsibility of the director to notice such problems in a film before they occur, but if problems do occur, it is the job of the editor to catch them and make changes to fix those problems. He or she will work in conjunction with the editor to make such changes.

A freelance video editor may also work closely with sound engineers to ensure the sound in the film or video syncs properly with the visuals. In some cases, the audio for a particular video will not be recorded until the final cut of the video is complete; this is common when creating videos that feature voice-over narration. Animated films, too, may not feature a soundtrack until the video is complete, or vice versa. If the sound is recorded first, the editor may have to take special care to ensure the sound and video mesh up properly.

Freelance video editors may help a bride put together a video of her wedding day.
Freelance video editors may help a bride put together a video of her wedding day.

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