Editing in Animation: An Inside Look

Editing in animation The role of an editor in animation is a hot topic. And a question that came up recently on my website from RJ, so I thought we might cover it here. The specific question: How does an editor get “plugged in” to animation?

First, you need to know that the editor’s job on an animated film lasts for the entire film, and is just as intense up front as it is in the end. An animated film is “pre-edited.” The story is tied down with story sketches to set the timing of the film before animation even begins. It’s usually done sequence by sequence as opposed to the entire film being done “early.” In animation, the director can’t shoot footage as done in live-action – the equivalent would be asking the animator to animate the same scene from different angles. That would be astronomically expensive and take WAY too long.

The editor works very closely with the director and story supervisor once the script and storyboards are at a point where the director feels they are ready for reels. That means the editor steps up and begins timing out the sequences, putting scratch SFX and music into the reels to create the closest thing to the final film as possible. This will fluctuate throughout the 3 to 6+ years of the production. Once a sequence is approved for animation, the editor will start cutting in the actual animation, production dialogue, etc., that will eventually become the final film. (TV shows are similar, but are on a much tighter schedule and a lot less experimentation with the stories/episodes takes place – it will go at a much faster pace.)

So how do you get plugged into the creative marathon of editing in animation? It’s always good to know someone who does the job already – that’s always the case, unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your P.O.V. But if you don’t know someone, I’d suggest looking at the credits of animated films and shows – the ones you like. There is a good chance the editing team will still be working at the particular studio in which the film or show was made. Call up the studio and give the operator one of those names. Surely you’ll find at least one person nice enough to give you the time of day… and some advice. You can also send your resume in to the recruiting department and talk to them, as well. They may have better advice than I’m able to give you.

I hope that helps a little. Good luck!

Image by j / f / photos via Creative Commons

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