Every editor will tell you that efficiency is what they strive for in post-production. Getting a film to look perfect is a gruelling and difficult task which all editors go through daily. Three-point editing makes editing a rough cut easier and faster! The following exercise will help teach your students how to use this simple yet effective technique.
What is three-point editing?
The main idea behind three-point editing is that your footage will be roughly edited before you set to work on the actual cut of the film. With every edit you will use three points of in and out placement: an in and out-point on your source footage and an in-point along your editing timeline. This will allow you to choose which clips of footage to use and your editing software will automatically place it on the timeline.
1 – Out in the field
Instruct your students to go out and film a variety of clips between 10-15 seconds. Ensure that they’re filming footage that would work together in a rough cut, for example shots of a garden or even the goings on of their own homes. Keep in mind that more footage equals more options but also more time spent at the editing desk. Between three and six clips is a good starting point.
2 – Set a time
Tell your students to edit their footage into a particular time constraint: perhaps twenty seconds. This will encourage them to use a more critical approach when selecting which segments of their footage to use in the rough cut.
3 – Tell a story
Even if the footage your students have brought in is simple, instruct them to find a narrative within their clips. This doesn’t need to mean telling a complete story or ensuring that dialogue and sound is matched up, but will help them analyse which footage to use as they edit.
4 – Revise
Make sure your students have a rough idea of which footage they want to use before they sit down to edit. This will save time and energy as they piece their images together. Tell them to jot down potential in and out points of each source clip to make sure they know all their options.
5 – Time to edit
Supervise your students as they use the three-point editing system. Start by having them include the footage sequentially, placing the first clip first and adding further footage after. Once they’re comfortable with the basics, instruct your students to backfill by placing a middle or last clip first.
By the end of this exercise your students should feel comfortable using three-point editing when making rough cuts. Encourage them to make mistakes and learn from them, potentially doing this exercise again either at home or during free time with editing software. As an added bonus you can even group students together and have them work with each other’s footage, presenting it to the class at a later date. By using footage they haven’t shot themselves, they will employ a more critical eye as they’ll be prepared to feel less attached to the material.
Whether or not your students are accomplished editors who prefer a particular method, three-point editing is a great tool to add to their arsenal and boost their editing confidence.