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4 Reasons Why Your Rough Cut Matters

When it comes to sculpting a timeline, there’s really no right or wrong way. However, we’ve got some pretty compelling reasons to begin your edit with a rough cut.

Learn what they are by clicking the video – or read the transcript below!

Some editors like to painstakingly hand craft each individual edit to perfection before they go on to the next one. That way, when they’re done, they’re done. We’ve seen very accomplished projects done this way.

But we prefer to first cut rough, then refine. Don’t worry about working on the tiny details of a cut as you’re first laying it out.

There are several reasons to first cut rough.

1) You can watch the entire story early to find out if some scenes, characters, or story points need more work than others.

By seeing the entirety unfold in real time, even in a skeletal form, you can get a sense of timings, character development and story logic.

There may even be occasions where the rough cut dictates that additional footage needs to be shot, or additional resources need to be acquired.

2) You’re more likely to have a “just in case” version if you’re working on a tight deadline.

Editing a rough cut is best for tight deadlines

By doing a lot of the basic groundwork, you’ll be in a much better position to deliver a baseline, usable version if schedules are accelerated and deadlines are pushed up.

Not that that’s ever happened to us…


3) You can err on the side of cutting longer.

If you’ve left your edits long, it’s much easier to go back and trim something than to bring back footage you’ve deleted or cut.

This way, you’ll retain as much usable material as possible and display everything you have at your creative disposal to craft narrative clarity.

4) Finally, by having all the scenes in front of you, it’s easier to select which one you’ll refine first.

Then, that one polished scene can give your creative team a sense of the overall tone of the project. You’ll also have a scene that can garner feedback from outside entities, like test audiences and friends and family screenings.

Get your rough structure figured out first and then start fine-tuning frames and audio. This will allow you the most creative speed and flexibility as you’re editing the piece, without becoming bogged down in minutiae

– Film Editing Pro

Generally, you’ll want to lay out the basics of your scenes onto your timeline, usually just picture and dialogue. Then, once you’ve got the entire sequence in a rough form, you can go back and start refining and embellishing the cut with music, sound effects, video effects, etc.

As you’ve probably already encountered for yourself, there can definitely be some anxiety at the beginning of a project; a blank page, or timeline, can be a terrifying thing. Once your timeline gets complicated, working with it becomes a lot more difficult.

Got any questions for us about the rough-cutting process? Interested in sharing your process/workflow tips? Leave a comment below!


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