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Editing Digital Video

Paul Werner reviews: Editing Digital Video
A Creative COW "Real World" Book Review


Editing Digital Video By  Robert M. Goodman, Patrick McGrath

Paul Werner
Paul Werner
New Orleans Center for Creative Arts|Riverfront
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

©2003, Paul Werner and CreativeCOW.net. All rights are reserved.

Article Focus:
Instructor and CreativeCOW contributing editor, Paul Werner takes a thorough look at Editing Digital Video by Robert M. Goodman and Patrick McGrath and concludes that this book would be an excellent textbook or resource for an editing class. (This book is published by McGraw-Hill)


I have read many system specific books that cover editing techniques for a particular program, Avid, Final Cut, Premiere, etc. Editing Digital Video by Robert M. Goodman and Patrick McGrath has a different goal. It aims to teach editing as a general tool and gives tips for all applications. I like this approach from the get go. The authors do an excellent job of clearly explaining both the technical and aesthetic role of the editor. They include many tips like editing with the right hand on the mouse and the left on the keyboard. They also paint a broader picture by explaining different approaches to editing using a bricklayer (building a story) or a sculptor (cutting away) as models.

This book would be an excellent textbook or resource for an editing class. Most chapters include a Summary and an Important Facts to Remember section. Every term is clearly defined from the simplest shot description to more specific editing terms like a “J” or “L cut. The book examines the basics of the hardware and software used for nonlinear editing. Then it discusses how to edit and includes a basic exercise with video footage and a script on the included cdrom. The exercise creates a rough cut which the authors then use for a second exercise where they demonstrate how you can polish this by trimming and by overlapping edits. (I would like to have seen their edited version included on the cdrom.) Next is an extensive section on developing a workflow for various types of projects from commercials to feature lengths. This is followed by a chapter on organization and storage of media, and chapters on identifying shots, using effects and titles, and inputs and outputs. The book closes with a cross reference of editing terms and keyboard shortcuts used in different software applications. (I wish this was in an Excel or Word file on the cdrom!)

I would definitely recommend this book for the beginning or intermediate editor. There may be too much basic information for an experienced editor, but if you have interns you will want this for your reference shelf.

The book could use more illustrations since the authors are continually describing visual techniques with few graphics and no additional images on the cdrom. There is an excellent appendix of Films To Watch that lists scenes from movies with particular aspects of editing that are showcased. For example: The Birds, edited by George Tomasino. Watch the gas station attack for an example of rhythm in editing.


I would give this book four and a half Cows for its unique approach and comprehensive coverage of editing.



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