Online Editors: What they Do and How You Can Become One

Online editor. Sounds like the coolest job anyone could have. In this post we’ll learn what an online editor does, the difference between an online editor and an offline editor and how you can become an online editor.

1. What do online editors do?

If you’ve ever wondered what an online, or finishing, editor does these days then you’re in luck!

In the traditional finishing workflow, an online editor takes the edit from the offline editor and conforms the full resolution footage to the offline cut. This worked well when film was cut on workprints, or during the early days of digital editing when storage space was expensive.

Nowadays, many non-studio shows don’t need footage re-conformed to higher resolution footage, so the role of the online editor has changed. Many online editors have attached extra skills to online – color correction, graphic design, visual effects – and I believe that’s the way the position will lean toward in the future.

For studio films and most network shows, the online editor will still have a traditional role of re-conforming, but for others, it’s essential to pick up additional skills.

2. The Difference Between an Online Editor and an Offline Editor

Offline editing is actually a rough or draft cut of the project by editing a low-quality footage together, so the main editor and possibly director could get ideas for the final cut. Another role for an offline editor is to create an edit decision list (EDL) which is similar to log sheets (a list of shots). It is very important because once the offline editors done a list of the shots they put in a rough cut, the online editor would follow and make changes in order to edit a final cut. Offline editors can also make creative decisions; shots, cuts, dissolves, fades, etc.

Online editing is a final cut of the project by editing a high quality footage together. Online editors would reconstruct the final cut based on the EDL, created by the offline editors. They will add visual effects, lower third titles, and apply color correction.

3. How To Become An Online Editor

To break into this field, you’ll need experience working online and creating online content. Employers also want to hire people who understand how users are reading online. In short, you need to demonstrate that you have written for the web and know how to do that, therefore, your writing samples and clips should be from websites, not print publications. Internships working for websites is also key. Additionally, experience with blogging, social media, and HTML will make you more attractive as a job candidate.

Online editors need to be comfortable with both writing and technology. Because online editors are crafting stories—or editing the stories of other writers—they need strong writing and journalistic skills. But an online editor also needs to be interested in, and aware of, the technology that wraps around the story. Should a particular story include a video component? Where on the site should a story be placed? If the story doesn’t include video, should it include pictures? An online editor might have to answer all those questions and then be able to use whatever software or publishing tool is required to add the needed component, be it video, pictures, or something else.

An online editor may also need to be comfortable with gathering and analyzing web data. Unlike writers and editors who work in print, an online editor might need to track what kinds of stories generate more traffic to inform the creation of future stories. In other words, an online editor needs to be comfortable paying attention to traffic statistics and incorporating lessons learned from those statistics during the content creation process.

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