We are continuing the "ask the editor" series! If you didn't already, check them out the other three segments. Larry wrote about editing the longest Let's Play in Achievement Hunter history, Kent goes into the story behind the Battlefield Master Edit, and Ashley wrote about cutting 7 Days of 7 Days to Die.
My name is Neal, and I edit Let's Play - GTA V every week. I started with Achievement Hunter in May 2016.
@Encer_Spay - What advice do you have for someone new to editing? What should I do or shouldn't do?
If you want to be an editor, get you hands on some software and some footage and start editing. Practice makes perfect, and every craft takes years to master. The difference between a professional with 3 years experience and one with 7 years is huge, but you can typically find work as an assistant editor or freelance editor with just a couple years of experience, a one to two-minute demo reel, and a professional website. If you are in school, use school computers and edit videos for an AV club. Almost no one judges you by your college work, but you can learn the basics and experiment in a safe environment with people your own age.
The most important thing for finding work and improving is to find mentors and network through them. Use every opportunity you have to meet professional editors who work on projects that interest you. Offer to buy them lunch in exchange for advice, or offer to assist them on their next project. Try to snag an internship with a post-production house or small-scale studio. If you work hard and are well-liked, these professionals will start offering you paid gigs as their assistants, or they will recommend you for projects that can't afford them or they are too busy to take. The larger your network, the more success you'll have.
Remember to think of yourself as a business with a brand. Read articles with tips for entrepreneurs and freelance creatives, and treat every client with respect. You never know which one will end up recommending you for your next big break.
@IronGottman - how did you start with AH? Did you know all the editing tricks before hand?
My first video edits were for high school assignments and my own short film projects when I was in high school, and I continued to edit videos throughout college. I had been freelance editing in Austin for a year before Achievement Hunter hired me, working for a variety of clients as both an editor and an assistant editor. I learned most of the software tricks and shortcuts over time, but occasionally I would watch an online tutorial to learn something I needed to know.
I started working for Achievement Hunter because of a referral from a friend and colleague who worked in the Live Action department. I freelanced for two days for the Day of Doom sponsored project. Five days later, Lindsay Jones offered me a full-time position to help fill out the AH post team. It took a few weeks for me to learn how to edit Let's Plays in particular, as I had rarely used the multi-cam function in Premiere, and I was more adept at editing live action shoots based on scripts. But thanks to my experience with Premiere and video editing in general, I adapted quickly to the work, and I now feel quite comfortable cutting the content we produce.
@_DavidLowe - Is the AH editor job the best job you e ever had?
My first job was as a lifeguard at a YMCA. I then worked a summer as a janitor at a label-making factory, then another summer as a carpenter's assistant. I didn't work as a full-time filmmaker until I began freelancing in Austin in 2015.
Being a freelance video editor was actually pretty exciting, since every project was different and I had to work with a bunch of clients. Part of the excitement came from not knowing where I'd be working the next month, though, or if I'd have work at all. So while I do miss the variety of work from that period, I definitely prefer the stable job at Rooster Teeth right now. I get to come in every day and work with cool and friendly people, we get to make fun, dumb content that makes a LOT of people really happy, and I get to make thumbnails in Photoshop, which I never had to do before and I really, really like doing! Plus, they feed me sometimes. So yeah, best job ever.
@GavinFree - who's GTA footage is the bestest and why is it Gavin's?
Gavin gives me the best GTA footage because he is the worst player at GTA. Whenever he dies first in some sort of minigame, such as Stunters Vs. Snipers or Top Fun, he is savvy enough to turn of his HUD display and provide some neat camera shots for me to work into the edit. So thanks for sucking, Gavin!
@DarthP0Ptart - Who is your favorite to cut to, in terms of things they do, things that happen to them in game, and their reaction?
Geoff. If Geoff is screaming, you've got to cut to Geoff, because something absolutely amazing is happening to him.
@cptsantoso - are facecam videos more difficult or just fun for you? always more fun imo, but I don't know if that's just me lul
In general, I prefer watching videos with facecam (my favorite series we make is Let's Play - Gmod: Murder), but editing with them typically takes more time. One of the reasons is that our webcams and capture software goof up occasionally, and will get out of sync with the audio and gameplay. This means that part way into the edit I may have to go back, hide a cut to the camera, and adjust the timing for part of the edit just to get the lips moving to the right words coming out of the face holes. They also tax the computer's processor and graphics card more than a simple nameburn would, so when bigger projects slow down I sometimes have to disable the webcam while I edit, then turn them back on for my polish pass. Facecams also make it harder to use editing tricks that tighten the conversation and shorten the overall video, since the audience is more likely to notice a jump cut.
That said, editing with webcams can be really fun, because I get another element to play with. A good example is the GTA V when Jeremy was in his high-chair, which segues into our next question…
@sIflpoc - how did you react editing the GTAV where jeremy was raised up high
Let me tell you, opening those files was an interesting moment. You wouldn't know it to look at the finished project, but the original recording was almost an hour and forty minute long! So right from the get-go, I knew this would take more time to cut than a typical Let's Play. I rather enjoyed editing the opening shot, where I put Michael and Gavin's face on the bottom of the screen and had Jeremy's camera looking down on them.
I also enjoyed replacing Ryan's facecam since he had lost his capture (usually that is due to a computer error). I took a GIF I found on an image search, re positioned it, cropped it, and slowed it down to a crawl so that it would change throughout the Let's Play. I then cut to Ryan's channel sparingly, so that people could enjoy getting to see Michael, Gavin, and Jeremy's faces as much as possible, since it was such a treat. If there had just been nameburns I probably would have cut to Ryan more often.
Then there was this whole bit where pizza showed up and they started stuffing their faces on camera. Normally I would have tried to cut that almost entirely, but between the webcams and the documentary-esque aspect of showing Michael hand Jeremy his slice, I had to keep most of it in. Most of the time saved was cut between the missions, while Ryan was on his way to the CEO building, but I tried to keep the best moments in while making it feel like he got there at a natural pace.
All in all, that particular episode took me about three days of work to edit, which is twice as long as a typical episode of Let's Play - GTA V, but what you end up with is a very fun, long, and unique episode, so I never regretted the extra time it took.
@Leo_Blurr - I understand the video part but how do You manage the audio??? That's a pain for me with only 5 minutes videos..
Great question, Leo. When I first joined the team, editing the audio drove me nuts!!! I had to learn to trust the audio compressor Trevor had preset to level their voices, and try not to be so picky about every single line of conversation. When you are trying to cut a 40 minute video in a single day, you simply don't have time to get things perfect. I've always been very particular about audio, so that was the hardest lesson for me to learn coming into this team.
Now I mostly set up the audio before I start cutting, boosting each person's gain just enough for the compressor to level them out comparably. I then use the pen tool while I edit the video, lowering the volume of less important conversation threads by about -5 dB and boosting important lines by +2 dB. I only do this if I can't hear what was said, not based on the audio meters. Occasionally I use the blade tool and cut out stretches of prolonged silence in a track to eliminate room tone/echo, or to remove something someone said that can't be published (such as something covered by the company's Non-Disclosure Agreement).
@AxelDraconi - what is the most technically complicated yet satisfying thing you've done while editing?
For this video, I created a multi-cam track that had four channels. One was of Jeremy's game capture, nameburn, and the live action camera; the second was Jack's game capture, nameburn, and the live action camera; the third was of the live action camera with both game captures at the bottom; and the fourth was of the live action footage without any game capture at all. I then exported each of these channels as a low-res proxy, replaced their sequences with these proxies, edited the video (this part was now super simple!), then replaced the proxies with the full-res sequences.
@JcbMclGreen5412 - do you cheer a little bit every time someone loses footage because it's one less screen to edit?
It's always a bummer when we lose footage, because it gives me less flexibility when it comes to creating the best possible video. That said, I do king of like it when it goes from five angles to four, because the multi-cam function in Premiere Pro is easier to use with four cameras, as all four fit well together into a single window.
@iamsoza - how do you put up with the dumb editing requests from the AH crew?
If the guys make a request for a special gag edit part way through the video, I have to weigh whether the joke is worth the time it would take to get it ready. Sometimes there are copyright or technical hurdles to their request, so I just cop out.
Other times, I will go all out for a gag edit because I have the time and feel inspired.
And occasionally, I'll deliberately screw them by doing the gag in a way that would annoy them but still amuse the community.
So long as we are ahead of schedule, these requests are a fun opportunity to get creative, so I usually appreciate them.
@rileyraethebae - Are you ever tempted to spend longer on a video than you need to? Are there times when you have to make yourself call it 'done'?
Yes. There have been days when I need to edit an entire forty-plus minute video with five angles and facecams, plus create the thumbnail and metadata, before leaving the office. You usually don't get to do a polish pass on those edits, so you trust your cut and push through to beat the clock. Luckily, these situations are the exception and not the norm.
@t4c0b3l162 - Whos capture do you choose for GTAV during epic crashes or explosions?
Whichever angle looks the best! These days I prefer to cut from the person getting blown up right as the explosion starts, to whichever nearby angle can see the explosion the best. This way we get fewer "WASTED" shots, and more variety in the angles.
Thanks for all the questions! If I didn’t answer your’s, don’t sweat it. Just ask it again by using #AHEditors, so our next editor can see what y’all are thirsting to know.