Film and TV editors used to be responsible for cutting strips of film into a coherent piece, or copying pieces of video from one tape to another in a long "line." While some still do that, it's much more common to find editors who use nonlinear methods -- putting bits of digital video together with the use of a computer that doesn't require assembling the project in a linear order. While computers have made the job easier in some ways, it's still a grueling job that requires a lot of organization and attention to detail.
An editor's main duty is to transform a vision -- often delivered via a paper script -- into a digital product. The producers, directors or writers often come up with a script or concept, which the nonlinear editor has to be able to understand and turn into a cohesive story. As such, the editor needs to have good communication and listening skills in order to be able to understand the needs and desires of the rest of the crew.
Nonlinear editors don't have to deal with mounds of video tapes or film reels -- but they do have to be able to manage a lot of digital video and audio files successfully. Every editor has their own system of importing video files to their editing system, and then marking them so that they know where to find the files and plug them into the right scene. Without an organized system, an editor's job gets a lot harder.
Being well-versed in technology options is paramount for an editor. Nonlinear editors have a lot of options when it comes to which editing programs they use -- and the programs are changing all the time. Whether they're using Final Cut Pro, the Adobe Creative Suite or some other program, editors need to be pros with their tools. That means keeping on top of updates, as well as being familiar with the various filters, effects and motion graphics programs that can lend a certain effect to a scene.
An editor's technical knowledge comes into play in another aspect of the job: distribution. Once a project is edited and approved by the producers, directors and other members of the production staff, it needs to be saved in a way that can be delivered to others. Editors need to be experienced in the types of encoding -- in other words, converting video from one format to another -- needed for the project. In some cases, a project may be delivered via the Internet, on TV or on a DVD -- all which can require different types of encoding.
2016 Salary Information for Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators
Film and video editors and camera operators earned a median annual salary of $59,500 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, film and video editors and camera operators earned a 25th percentile salary of $38,840, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $92,790, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 59,300 people were employed in the U.S. as film and video editors and camera operators.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators Do
- O*Net Online: Summary Report for Film and Video Editors
- Encoding.com: Video Encoding: What Is It?
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators
- Career Trend: Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.