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Empty Timeline Syndrome

Edit Tip: Battling Empty Timeline Syndrome

We’ve all been there. Sometimes, there’s nothing more terrifying for an editor than a blank timeline.

Ahh, the pros and cons of a new cut…

  • The unlimited possibilities (or a million difficult decisions)
  • The opportunity to demonstrate your skills (or reveal your weaknesses)
  • The chance to create an award-winning masterpiece (or spend months on a complete flop)

It’s pretty easy to get caught up in your own head and intimidated by the vast amount of work and possibility ahead of you, both good and bad.

What’s the solution? Here are a few…

1) Have a preparation system…and trust it.

Always follow the same steps when going through your materials, organizing your sources, piecing together a script. Procedures and systems will create familiarity and build confidence in new editing situations. Set yourself up so that your tools support your creative efforts rather than impede them.

2) Start with what you know.

For example…if you’re cutting a trailer that contains 5 pieces of narration, a main title, 3 internal graphic cards and a specific moment at the climax, cut those all onto your timeline. Just rough them in. Now you’ve got a structure to work around and can begin building out the rest of piece around it. Think of it like “paint-by-number” or Sudoku. The more anchor points you can nail down, the easier the rest will fall into place.

3) Realize that other editors struggle with this too.

Sometimes misery really does love company. Take comfort in the knowledge that you’re not alone. We ALL feel your pain.

Now get to work!

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