What is Film Editing and What Does a Film Editor Do? – American Film Institute
A female AFI Fellow at the AFI Conservatory editing a digital video project at one of the film school's editing stations featuring multiple monitors


What is Film Editing and What Does a Film Editor Do?

What is Film Editing?

Film editing is focused on cutting and assembling film footage to tell a specific story. Throughout much of the history of the motion picture industry, movies were shot and edited using film, which meant editing a film involved cutting and assembling actual film strips. Now, most editing is done digitally, using programs like Adobe Premiere and Avid.

What does a Film Editor do?

A film editor is responsible for overseeing the assembly of the film from beginning to end and works closely with the director and producers to produce a final version of the film that represents the vision of the filmmakers. The responsibilities of a film editor include picture editing, VFX, dialogue editing, sound design, SFX editing and music editing.

Who becomes a Film Editor?

Film editors come from a variety of backgrounds, but all of them have a passion for visual storytelling.

What are the career paths for Film Editors?

Graduates of the AFI Conservatory Editing program typically choose to either work on independent films as an editor or work on studio and network projects in various capacities, including assistant editing and post-production supervision. Editing Fellows also find success working in sound editing, VFX and color grading.

What is the Editing program at the AFI Conservatory film school?

At the AFI Conservatory film school, the Editing master’s degree program provides expert-level training in the technical side of the editing process and teaches post-production producing skills from pre-production through final delivery. In their classes, AFI film students, known as “Fellows” at the Conservatory, also learn about editing theories, techniques and procedures, issues of continuity, effects, movement and sound and how they relate to the fundamentals of cinematic montage and visual storytelling.

Learn more about the Film Editing MFA program at the AFI Conservatory film school, ranked the #1 film school.

10 Editing Terms to Know

  1. Avid – professional video software used to edit film, television or digital video used by AFI Editing Fellows
  2. B-roll – footage that is supplemental to the main set cinematography and often include atmospheric shots, pick-up shots and insert shots among others.
  3. Compositing – the act of combining two or more images to make one single composite shot; often used in VFX
  4. Compression – reducing the file size of digital files
  5. Continuity editing – an approach to editing that uses techniques like eye line, 180-degree rule and matching action to maintain consistency of time and space in film, television or other digital video projects
  6. Dissolve – an editing transition where one image fades revealing a new image
  7. Final cut – the final, completed edit of a film or television show
  8. Jump cut – an editing technique used to convey an abrupt shift in time or space
  9. Montage – a series of short shots or sequences edited together often to convey information in a short amount of time or show a passage of time
  10. Resolve – short for DaVinci Resolve; a professional editing software tool used to perform editing, color correction, visual effects, motion graphics and audio post production

Recent Projects by AFI Conservatory Editing Alumni

A collage of images of projects by AFI Editing Alumni AFI Conservatory Film School

A BLACK LADY SKETCH SHOW – Taylor Joy Mason (AFI Class of 2012) and S. Robyn Wilson (AFI Class of 2012)
DARK WINDS – Brian Wessel (AFI Class of 2009)
DON’T WORRY DARLING – Affonso Gonçalves (AFI Class of 1993)
THE FABELMANS – Sarah Broshar (AFI Class of 2005)
HALLELUJAH – Camilla Bartoli (Class of 2020)
PENS & PENCILS – Lily Judge (AFI Class of 2020)
RESERVATION DOGS – Varun Viswanath (AFI Class of 2012)
SIGNIFICANT OTHER – David Kashevaroff (AFI Class of 2004)
WATCHER – Michael Block (AFI Class of 2014)
WE WERE MEANT TO – Luodawei Xiao (AFI Class of 2020)

View more projects by AFI Alumni.

Applications to attend the AFI Conservatory film school open in the Fall. Sign up here to receive all the latest news about AFI’s MFA program and other opportunities.

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