Common Film Editing Mistakes

Film editing is a technical and artistic component of the post-production process of film making. The word is derived from the older conventional method of working on the film that increasingly includes the usage of computer software for editing movie footage. Although, the use of film editing software has become widespread, it is still considered an “invasive” art by many. This article will discuss four of the most common mistakes made when editing film and discuss the steps involved to avoid similar errors.

film edit

Read The Instructions

One of the first steps to correct editing mistakes is to consult a guidebook to find out the basic film editing software used by the editors in your project. The guidebook will tell you how to use all the key tools involved with editing film, including video and sound editing programs. After finding the appropriate program, the editors must be familiar with how to use each of the tools and the steps involved in editing film footage. If they are unfamiliar with the program, it is often a good idea to enlist the aid of a more technically savvy person to learn the proper usage.

Stuck On One Technique

Another common mistake is to use one single editing technique for all shots. In other words, an editor must not repeat the same technique for every shot. Many filmmakers believe that by applying a single technique to every shot, the footage will look “homemade.” However, repeating the same technique in various positions across the film results in a disjointed and unclear editing technique. It is best to develop a single editing technique for each shot, so that the end result will look clean, polished and professional.


Don’t Overdo The Soundtrack

Often, one of the biggest mistakes made when editing films is to apply sound effects too early or to remove them at the very beginning of a scene. Applying sound effects too early in a scene can make the viewer feel as if they have been left out of the scene. Removing them in the very beginning of a shot allows the viewer to feel as if they’ve” gotten into the action” before the sound effects had a chance to kick in.

Transitions & Cuts

Another common editing mistake is to apply the same cut method to many different shots. For instance, one might apply a dissolve to the top of one shot, a fade to the bottom of another, and then apply another dissolve to create the effect of a pull-back in the middle of the third shot. While it is possible to apply multiple edits to the same piece of footage, it is also common for a single technique to be applied to a large number of shots. Repeating the same technique in different positions can result in a messy editing job.


Film editing techniques can be learned and applied quickly, but the foundation of film editing begins with an understanding of how sound and film footage is assembled. Once a basic understanding of how this is done is achieved, editing becomes much less difficult and time consuming. The key to success in editing is to learn to master the fundamental tools of composition. Once that fundamental skill has been learned, the process becomes much less tedious and directing the editing process becomes second nature.