4 Tips for Editing Dialogue

Editing is a complicated craft that is dependent on having a sense of great timing. This is especially true when editing a scene with dialogue. The way you edit the scene will have a huge influence on how the audience processes the information being given to them. Here are 4 tips to help you edit dialogue.

1. Read the Script

The script is the movie's blue print. You should have read it before you even looked at any footage so you know the whole story well. And, even before you edit this dialogue heavy scene, you should look at the script again before you start editing. In a well written movie, every piece of dialogue matters and drives the story. Break the scene into beats. Beats are the individual moments that happen in the scene that drive it. You want the pacing of your editing to match the beats.

2. Really Know the Takes

Before you make your first edit, you should go through the footage a few times and really get to know what was shot. Make notes of where you're favorite takes are. Remember, the way an actor delivers a line influences how the audience perceives it. If the actor acted differently in every take, then you need to pick out which way is most appropriate for the story. Every take you choose and every cut you make needs to have a purpose.

3. Create a Rough Edit Without the Director

The director had a plan in his head of how everything will edit together when he shot this scene. But, you as the editor don't know it and for right now, you shouldn't care. You were hired for your skills, so use your good judgement to create your own cut. Who know what the reaction will be when you show it? It could be on the money, it could be wrong, or it could be better than he imagined. You might have thought of a great idea he never considered.

4. Don't Get Frustrated

Sometimes editors are given footage to cut that isn't really that good. You're not the director; you were not on the set when they shot, and you can't edit clips that were never shot. All you can do is work with what you were given and make the best out of it. Editing is supposed to be an art where you can get creative, but sometimes it really just amounts to cutting out the bad stuff. Don't get frustrated when that happens.

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