What I learned as a news video editor

The place

My first media job was as a video editor working on news clips for the website of the Italian news agency, ANSA. I edited using Adobe Premiere Pro on the Milan premises of RealLife Television, the partner company which produced the news items for ANSA.

The process

There was a team of in-house journalists and video editors that worked in shifts to keep providing news items in various categories for the website around the clock. The journalist would send me a brief of the breaking news story and I would dig into the database of new and archival videos to find relevant footage. In the meantime, the journalist would rush over to record the audio for the edit. A few minutes later, the audio would arrive and I would start editing the images on top of it.

ANSA LIVE – WORLD – Attempt on the life of Benazir Bhutto

The audio included an intro, an outro, and, often, interviews that I had to synchronise with the footage they were taken from. The clips were about sixty seconds long and I had less than an hour to get the whole thing ready to go, which was very fast-paced. I had to think on my feet in selecting the images I would edit and create quality output against the rapid deadlines. The journalist would then come over to review the edit. Barring possible adjustments, they would sign it off, and I would proceed to export the video and upload it onto the website.

The passion

This professional experience solidified my passion for video editing. It is where the audiovisual narrative really comes together. It is where the story acquires rhythm, the rhythm it needs to capture the attention of its audience. There was no time for colour correction, no time for embellishment. It was all down to the editing.

I learned to trim visual information to its most essential parts and put those parts together in a crisp way that engages the eye of the viewer, pushes the story and makes it memorable. It worked out especially well when we had strong raw material to begin with, but I found that magic could also be created when the raw footage happened to be static or nondescript, just by making the rhythm of the edits sharp and engaging.

ANSA LIVE – ENTERTAINMENT – Hollywood premiere of The Kingdom

My favourite news categories were World and Entertainment. They most suited my personality and so the clips I chose to keep with me in order to showcase my video editing skills came from there. I enjoyed honing breaking news footage from the wide World to its most arresting potential or to re-edit a film trailer to give it a newsworthy edge for the Entertainment segment. To my friends’ frustration, I can also tell if the audio to a film we’re watching is out of synch by a fraction.

Watch the videos or the playlist included in this post and let me know what you think in the comments. You can find more information on the individual edits in each video description.

Video editing for news: ANSA LIVE playlist