Editing a Wedding Film: The first cut

Editing a Sweet Pea Cinema wedding film takes hours and hours and hours.Simply put: It’s hours and hours and even more hours at a computer. It starts with some incredibly boring chores: downloading and sorting footage and audio. Then backing all of that up twice so that we have three copies of the original footage. Usually we capture between 200 and 300 gigabytes of footage and audio, so just getting all the footage organized and stored properly can take up to four hours.Next comes ingesting all that material into Adobe Premiere Pro, the editing software I use. ¬†Again, all the footage needs to be organized into “bins” so that I can easily find a clip when I’m crafting a couples’ wedding story. This can take an hour or longer.

Time to get interesting

Here’s when the “boring” work starts to get a little more interesting.The next step is the first cut of the raw footage. I’m looking for the best moments of the day, the most beautifully composed shots, and audio that conveys emotion and tells the couple’s love story. At the end of this step, I have hundreds of 3- to 5- second clips, plus many longer segments, that I’ll turn to to create most of the B-roll (or secondary images) in the film. This usually is an eight hour chore.The first cut is the most exciting and disappointing moment in the editing process.It’s truly exhilarating to see the crazy beautiful footage we’ve captured. But it’s equally crushing to see shots that didn’t work because of bad lighting, focus issues, white balance problems. This is the time, too, when I get a feel for the day, the mood and the action of the film editing to come.Audio becomes the next focus. Now’s the time when I really start listening carefully to what I call the “scripted” parts of the day, particularly the ceremony, vows, and toasts that are key to building the base of the film. I’ll also listen again to the spontaneous moments that I pulled from throughout the day, that also might help move the story forward, add a moment of levity, or my favorite, a moment that reveals the deep love our couples have for each other. This can take up to eight hours.When I have all my audio “blocks” selected, and all the beautiful short moments, I’m ready to start the real edit. This can take 40-50 hours.I realize this post is probably boring most of you, but I think it’s important to explain the effort and energy that’s required to create a truly beautiful wedding film. It’s not just thrown together and exported. I think about every moment, clip and audio snippet. But more on that later!For now, I hope you enjoyed the little peek into my editing world with the time lapse from four hours of a recent first cut!Cheers,CindyIf you enjoyed the music from this clip, check out bensound.com