Frame of Reference with Editor Shane Ross

by Twain Richardson

Shane Ross is a freelance editor living in Los Angeles. He has edited documentaries for The History Channel, The Discovery Channel and National Geographic…narrative shows for MTV and Nickelodeon…and has worked on corporate and independent projects. He is a forum junkie and can be found on the Creative Cow and among many other editing forums. When he is not editing or helping out people on the forums, he spends his time writing a blog about his editing experiences, riding his bicycle, and spending time with his wife and lovely three daughters.

What got you interested in editing?

Editing? That came late into my film making experience. First I wanted to be a director. I started making films at age 11, super 8 film and stuffed animals. My dad edited the film with a razor and scotch tape. Although I mostly edited in camera…shot in order, shots lasting as long as I pulled the trigger. Then when I went into college and got the chance to direct, I realized I didn’t have the knack for it. I mean, I had to deal with the ACTORS! I didn’t know that. I thought that they just did their thing and I told them where to move. So then I figured that I must want to be a cinematographer, as I was able to picture how the shots should be framed, and how the camera might move. But then I realized that I didn’t have the knack for that either. I couldn’t visualize what the lighting would look like when exposed to film. Because how you lit the set…painted with light really, looked different in person than it does on film. So, I didn’t have the knack for that. But in directing and shooting I realized that I was picturing the whole film edited in my head…what shot went where. And then when I watched other people’s projects, ones that I shot so I knew what footage we had, I’d see how they turned out after being edited and would always say “Oooo…I wouldn’t have made that choice. I would have done X, Y and then Z.”

I guess that was one of the really good things about film school. I was able to try out several different hats to figure out which I was best suited to wear.

How did you get started in editing?

When I needed to cut a film that I directed due to the student slated to do it, had to go home due to a family emergency. When I sat down to edit, I realized that I was assembling the final thing…I was making the final decisions. I was bringing everything together. That to me is the final sense of accomplishment. As a camera person, my job was over when production was done…I didn’t get to see the finished product until someone else finished it. As a director, well, I had to deal with those actor people, but also I too had to wait until someone else finished editing before I saw the final product. As the editor….I was the one finishing…making the completed thing. I had the final touch…well, sorta. The director got to give his notes, but I finished them. And then I moved on to edit other students projects, and the puzzle piece just fell into place. read more...

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