Kill the Dracula habit in your edit

Halloween approaches, and so does a nasty little habit that snags virtually everyone when editing. This habit is diabolical, an insidious practice that plays Dracula to your time, sucking out the very lifeblood of your edit. Mountains of research suggest that overindulging in this practice not only murders your productivity, but it could literally shrink your brain.

dracula-lugosi-1This sinister menace has a much more pleasingly generic name, but make no mistake… a menace by any other name is still a menace.

I’m talking about multitasking. Specifically, multitasking in your edit.

We sit down, let ideas percolate, pick a music cue here, fiddle with the fonts in a title there, and before you know, the day is gone.

“Crap. What did I actually accomplish today?” we ask ourselves in annoyance.

And Dracula the Multitasker slinks to the back corner of our edit bay, smirking at having sucked the life out of another edit session.

The unlikely antithesis to this shadowy ghoul is much less known for his editing… and much more well known for his wheels. Millions of them on Model T’s, to be exact.

Even though Henry Ford lived and died long before motion picture editing became available to the general public, we can learn some important things about editing from him.

Before he came along, automobiles were made by craftsman who did every single task themselves. (Hmm. Sounds like the modern video editor, yes?) These early vehicles took a long time to make and were very expensive, a fact that brought much evil satisfaction in the cold heart of Dracula the Multitasker. Ford saw this and thought, “This is not efficient. Why not have a whole bunch of people instead who each focus on just one task?”

ford-model-t-assembly-lineSo he started implementing this crazy new thing called the assembly line. One guy, for example, just puts on wheels. Put on a wheel, put on a wheel, put on a wheel, all day. At the time, people thought it was weird because no one was doing it.

But what Ford knew, and what we’ve since come to realize, is that the efficiency of the assembly line comes from the focus of process.

Editing works the same way.

Consider an assembly line process for your editing workflow. Editing involves so many functions – building the foundation of content, adding coverage, adding music, sound effects, mix, color correction, etc. – that it’s temptingly easy to jump back and forth between tasks.

And in today’s attention-addled world, that switching back and forth between tasks is the cold-blooded killer.

Constant jumping from one function to another dilutes your mental focus, and it will suck up your editing time. If you have unlimited time available to do your edit, then by all means flit around from thing to thing… if that’s your thing. Otherwise use your limited time in the smartest way possible.

Stick to one function at a time. Do your foundation work, THEN coverage, THEN music, THEN titles, THEN audio, THEN color, etc. Don’t try to do everything at once.

But does that kill creativity? Some people will say, “This is personal. You’ve got to do whatever works for you. Doesn’t this assembly line thing take out all the creativity?”

Heck no.

On the contrary, focusing on a single process promotes creativity. When you focus on a specific task, your brain has the opportunity to focus mental energy in that specific area. And your project will benefit as a result.

These ideas are expanded from “Rule #54: Channel your inner Henry Ford from Edit Better: Hollywood-Tested Ideas for Powerful Video Editing. Want to supercharge your editing with more ideas like these? Check this out.

If you like the idea of hanging out with like-minded creative types from all over the world who put ideas like these into play in *their* editing, then go here.

In the meantime, nobody’s saying you have to be that guy on Henry Ford’s assembly line who did nothing all day but attach hood ornaments to Model T’s. But at least consider how the assembly line’s focus of process can help you stay focused and highly productive in your edit… and dracula-lugosi-2banish Dracula the Multitasker into the night.

Where he lurks in the shadows for a more unprepared victim.

2 thoughts on “Kill the Dracula habit in your edit”

  1. Thumbs up here! A streamlined, assembly-line approach is an excellent way to edit. I used to work on 3-7 short videos at a time. I would apply this idea to my edits: cut the interviews together for every video first. Lay in the pictures for each video. Select appropriate music and adjust edit points. Then I’d send each off for a content approval and as I waited to hear back from my clients, I’d continue the edit process as I started to hear back from them.

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