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Cut by Cut


What’s the book about?

Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video 2nd Edition illuminates today’s editorial landscape and all its processes, leading the reader step by step through the editor’s journey from receiving dailies to delivering a finished show on film, tape, file, or disk for YouTube, cinema, Blu-ray, or TV.

I took everything I learned during my decades of working in cutting rooms and put it into this 470 page nuts and bolts guidebook which contains 34 tables, over 100 photos, charts, and illustrations, and a dozen DIY forms. My aim is to support editors, directors, producers and post production people – be they students, professionals, or independent filmmakers – in organizing, editing, and completing shows.

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Cut by Cut: Editing Your Film or Video

Who’s the book for?

  • Editors of all stripes: Indies, students, and professionals with knowledge gaps.
  • Aspiring editors: Assistant editors, apprentice editors, and career changers.
  • Filmmakers who want to understand editing.
  • Prosumers who want to make the leap to professional.
  • Professors and teachers of editing.

What’s new in Cut by Cut 2nd Ed.?

Today’s editor focuses more on what codec to use than what Kodak’s up to. With that in mind, I have gone through each section of the book, word by word, and brought all material up to date. Specifically I have:

  • Created workflows for film, tape, and file-based shows and updated music and sound editing workflows as well as the disk authoring and DI (digital intermediate) workflows.
  • Added HD and 3D practices throughout the book.
  • Retained and updated all the information necessary for shooting, finishing, and delivering on film including creating cutlists and understanding the negative cutting process.
  • Created a new section that takes a thorough look at the modern MTV editing style, contrasting it with the traditional cutting style, quoting top editors and citing current research and movies.

To prepare for the re-write, I interviewed 15 editors working in all film genres from comedy to news to music videos to reality shows. I’ve included their experiences and advice along with that of esteemed feature editors and other postproduction personnel. You’ll hear from them extensively in an expanded Stage II Part 2 which is all about how to approach and edit the footage to create dynamic, engaging stories.


There are plenty of books on how to use specific editing software but few that detail the whole process of editing from beginning to end. Cut by Cut 2 concentrates on the why and what to do next, so you can:

  • Set up a cutting room, make a post schedule, sync, log, and organize dailies.
  • Design a workflow for your show be it tape, tapeless, film, or a hybrid.
  • Operate a digital editing system like Avid, Adobe Premiere Pro, or Final Cut Pro.
  • Finesse dialogue, action, and montage scenes and add music and VO to your show.
  • Cheat shots, add reactions, make overlaps, and deal with mismatches, pace, and many other routine editing challenges.

You will also find out how to:

  • Create and recognize VFX (visual effects)
  • Prepare a show for screening, re-cut it, and take it to locked cut.
  • Design sound for you show and prepare it for sound and music editing and the mix.
  • Finish your show on a digital editing system, or via online, the DI process, or negative film cut.
  • Budget for each stage of post production.

Structure of book

Cut by Cut 2nd Edition is divided into three stages, corresponding to the three stages of post production (the editing phase of a project):

Stage 1:Setting Up and Organizing begins with an extensive section on how to shoot a project for post production. Following this, it covers critical decisions necessary to setting up your project properly for editing and explains key video and digital concepts and terms. It then details tape, tapeless, and film workflows before moving into the cutting room and detailing how to log and organize dailies on a digital system so they’re all ready to edit.

Stage 2: Editing reveals the aesthetics and practicalities of editing the footage and moving your show from first cut to final cut. It takes an in-depth look at modern, “MTV” style editing vs. traditional, Hollywood editing and tours cutting rooms of all genres – features, comedy, documentary, news, music video, reality TV, corporate video, and more – where you hear from editors about the joys and challenges of each genre.

Stage 3: Finishing leads you through sound and music editing and the mix. It then wraps up by describing finishing processes including color grading, titling, online, negative cutting, and the DI process for getting your project to screen, tube, disk, Intranet, or Internet.

A fourth and final section of the book contains an extensive glossary of digital, film, and video editing terms, an editor’s resource guide, and a meaty section on how to land that elusive editing job.

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