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Jan 9 / Darryl Shreve

The Ripple Effect

The Ripple Effect

or as some folks call it, the butterfly effect.

“Please tell me you’re not talking about time travel?”

Well, I am…sort of.

This discussion is about how small changes to an edit can have a huge impact on the flow and story of the overall edit. As editors, we cut our pieces in waves (or passes). And in each pass, changes are made to improve the piece. If you look at the process of creating a sculpture, one can see parallels to this very same process. You start off with all of this footage that has to be sculpted down to a desired amount of time. Nine hours of video becomes a finished, two minute piece or 100 hours of footage becomes a two hour movie. How do we get there?

“I only cut on Avid!”

“I only cut on Premeire!”

“Final Cut Pro is my tool!”

Well, I’m here to let you in on a secret. It ain’t about the software. It’s about the editing decisions used to tell your story. That’s right, a good storyteller could make a masterpiece using iMovie or (insert other low-end editing software).

There are way too many arguments about which editing software to use and not enough about how to tell a good story via editing. There are many seasoned editors out there that know the nuts and bolts of their chosen platform, but cannot tell an interesting story.

“I liked you better when this was about butterflies.”

All science fiction geeks know that if you go back in time and step on a butterfly, you may alter the course of human history, because small changes in the past can have a ripple effect that causes different outcomes in the future.

After your first editing pass is complete, you become the Time Lord for that project.

“Oh no he didn’t reference Dr Who!”

Every editing platform has a time based container in which you edit your clips. Some programs refer to them as sequences, other as projects and oddly enough, some call them timelines.

Timecode – Timelines start at zero and go forward in time.

In either case, you see the beginning, the middle and the end all at once. So when starting an edit, you should approach it with the mindset that it will take several passes before you reach the desired future/outcome.

You can bounce around an edit and work on any part of it, thus making you a Time Lord.


Tip: You may go through a project 10 times before you have picture lock (are done). With each pass, you will make minute changes that hopefully improve your piece. This is where a second set of eyes comes in handy.

And not your grandma, parent, sibling or a significant other. In fact, rule out anyone who loves you (sorry nana), because their affection for you may taint their opinions of your piece. And yes, it’s great having your ego stroked (so do show them eventually), but the criticisms leading to positive change will most often come from your teachers, advisors and trusted peers.

Breaking up is the second hardest thing to do, because asking for help is often the first. No one likes to feel less than, but it’s not the early bird that catches the worm…its the one that avoids crash landing into the pavement.

You better ask somebody!

Just saying.


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  1. Dylan / Sep 12 2017

    What’s up, its nice piece of writing concerning media print, we all be familiar with media is a enormous source of information.

  2. Darryl Shreve / Aug 15 2017

    Thank you so much, I am working on a book to aid instructors. Hopefully the insights I have gleaned over the years will prove beneficial to those interested in video production. Thanks again.

  3. bragas de calvin klein / Aug 15 2017

    Can I simply just say what a comfort to discover someone that truly knows what they are talking about on the net.

    You actually know how to bring a problem to light and make it important.
    More and more people need to look at this and understand this side of the story.

    I was surprised you aren’t more popular since you definitely possess
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  4. Darryl Shreve / Jun 21 2017

    No problem, glad you enjoyed it!

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