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A Day in The Life of A Video Editor — Cuts, Coffee, and Creativity!

By David Winter
Jan 19, 2024
5 minute read
A cup of coffee on an editors workstation

So you want to be a video editor, and that, of course, involves a lot of editing! But what does a day in the life of a video editor actually look like? It's not just about sitting in front of screens filled with timelines and clips.

As someone who's spent countless hours in editing suites and battled with every imaginable technical hiccup, I've learned that being a successful video editor is as much about organisation and routine as it is about creativity and technical skills. It's a blend of art, science, and a bit of magic. 

It goes without saying that every editor has their own routines and ways of working, so this is more an attempt to take you through some good general advice than any hard and fast rules. Consider this as guidance that you can then tailor to fit your own style, streamline your workflow, and spark creativity.

Morning Routine: Setting the Stage for a Productive Day

Every great edit starts long before the first clip is imported. It begins with a well-structured morning routine that sets the tone for a productive day.

Kickstarting the Day

  • Rise and Shine: The start of the day is crucial. Whether it's a brisk walk, a cup of coffee, or a few minutes of meditation, find what energises you and makes you feel ready to tackle the day.
  • Mental Preparation: Spend a few minutes visualising the day's goals. What are the essential tasks you need to accomplish? This mental prep sets a clear direction for the day.

Reviewing the Agenda

  • Prioritise Tasks: Look over your schedule and identify the most critical tasks. Use The Eisenhower Box (urgent-important matrix) to prioritise effectively.
  • Setting Realistic Goals: Break down your tasks into achievable goals. It's not just about editing a certain number of minutes or hours of footage but also about considering the complexity of the tasks.

Essential Tools and Workspace Set-Up

  • The Right Environment: Ensure your workspace is comfortable, well-lit, and conducive to long work hours. Ergonomics is key.
  • Tool Check: Start your computer, launch Lightworks, and ensure all your software and hardware tools are updated and in working order. A quick check now can save you from unforeseen delays later in the day.

In these early hours, the focus is on creating a mental and physical space conducive to creativity and efficiency. With a clear mind and an organised workspace, you're ready to dive into the heart of video editing.

Diving Into Editing: The Heart of the Day

Unsurprisingly, the core of a video editor's day is spent editing video. This is where creativity meets technique, and your preparation and organisation pay off.

OrganiSing Footage and Resources

  • File Management: Start by organising your footage and related assets. Use clear naming conventions and folder structures. This might seem mundane, but it's crucial for efficiency.
  • Reviewing Footage: Skim through your footage to understand the material you're working with. This helps in planning your edit and identifying key shots.

The Editing Process in Lightworks

Starting with the Basics

  • Timeline Set-Up: Begin by setting up your timeline in Lightworks. Drag and drop your clips and get them in a rough order.
  • First Cuts: Make initial cuts to your footage. Don't worry about perfection at this stage; focus on building the structure of your video.

Creative Decisions and Techniques

  • Experimenting with Effects: Lightworks offers a range of effects. Now's the time to experiment with transitions, colour grading, and other creative elements. Have some fun!
  • Fine-Tuning: Fine-tune your edits once you're happy with the basic structure. Pay attention to pacing, alignment with the narrative, and visual continuity.

Breaks and Time Management

  • Scheduled Breaks: Editing is intense work. Schedule short breaks to avoid burnout. Use techniques like The Pomodoro Technique to manage your time effectively.
  • Staying on Track: Keep an eye on your objectives for the day. Regularly check back with your goals to ensure you're on track.

Editing is a blend of artistic vision and meticulous attention to detail. It's where you bring the story to life, one clip at a time. But it's also important to remember that editing is a marathon, not a sprint. Managing your energy throughout the day is key to maintaining creativity and focus.

Collaboration and Feedback

Video editing is often a collaborative process involving client, director, or team member feedback. Managing these interactions effectively is crucial for a successful project.

Communicating with Clients or Team Members

  • Clear Communication: Regular check-ins with clients or your team can provide valuable feedback. Use clear, concise language to discuss edits and be open to suggestions.
  • Understanding Vision and Expectations: Make sure you understand the vision and expectations of the project. This ensures that your edits align with the overall goals.

UtiliSing Lightworks for Collaborative Projects

  • Sharing Projects: Lightworks allows you to easily share your projects with team members or clients for feedback.
  • Incorporating Feedback: Gather feedback and use Lightworks' intuitive interface to adjust quickly. This might include refining cuts, adjusting colour grading, or tweaking audio levels.


Effective collaboration and clear communication are essential in the world of video editing. They ensure that the final product meets or even exceeds the expectations of all stakeholders.

Wrapping Up: Concluding the Editing Day

It's time to wrap up the editing work as the day winds down. This phase concerns final checks, preparing for tomorrow, and ensuring everything is set for the project's smooth continuation or completion.

Final Checks and Exports

  • Reviewing Edits: Conduct a thorough review of the day's work. Look for missed errors, check audio levels, and ensure visual continuity. This final review is your last line of defence against unnoticed mistakes.
  • Exporting Projects: Utilise the robust export features in Lightworks to render your project in the appropriate format. Be meticulous in selecting the correct settings for resolution, codec, and file type, ensuring your work is presented at its best quality.

Preparing for Tomorrow

  • Backing Up Your Work: The most crucial step at the end of the day is backing up your project. Utilise Lightworks' reliable backup features and external storage solutions to safeguard your work. Remember, regular backups can be a lifesaver in the event of unexpected technical issues.
  • Progress Notes: Jot down notes on your progress, especially if you’re in the midst of a complex edit. These notes can include editing decisions you're contemplating, areas that need further attention, or creative ideas you want to explore later.
  • Setting Up for the Next Day: Outline the tasks for your next editing session. This might include specific editing goals, scenes to focus on, or technical aspects to address. This preparation ensures you can dive straight into productive work the next day.
  • System Maintenance: Take a moment to ensure that your editing software and hardware are properly shut down. If you have ongoing tasks like rendering or automated backups, set them up before you finish for the day.

The end of the editing day is about wrapping up with a sense of accomplishment and preparation. Ensuring your work is securely backed up and planning for the next day is as essential as the creative editing process. This disciplined approach guarantees that each day contributes meaningfully to the progress and success of your video editing projects.

Balancing Work and Personal Life

Maintaining a healthy balance between work and personal life is vital for sustained creativity and productivity. Video editing can be demanding, so it's essential to know how to switch off and rejuvenate.

Disconnecting from Work

  • Physical and Mental Break: Once the workday ends, engage in activities that help you disconnect. This might be exercise, a hobby, or spending time with family and friends.
  • Digital Detox: Step away from screens and digital devices. This helps reduce mental fatigue and improves sleep quality, which is essential for creative work.

Personal Development for Editors

  • Continuous Learning: Stay updated with the latest trends and techniques in video editing. Dedicate time to learning new skills, whether it's through online courses, workshops, or exploring new features in Lightworks.
  • Reflective Practice: Spend time reflecting on your work. Analyse your successes and areas for improvement. This reflective practice is key for personal and professional growth.

Balancing the demands of a video editing career with personal well-being is essential. It helps you stay creative, motivated, and productive over the long term.

Conclusion

We've journeyed through a day in the life of a video editor, from the initial morning preparation to the final wrap-up tasks. Remember, every editor's routine is unique; finding what works best for you is part of the process. Whether you're just starting or a seasoned professional, I hope these insights and tips will help streamline your workflow and spark creativity.

Additional Resources

For deeper dives into editing techniques and Lightworks tutorials, visit Lightworks Resources. Enhance your skills, discover community insights, and bring your creative visions to life.

Transform your video editing journey with Lightworks. Whether crafting a short film, a documentary, or a personal vlog, Lightworks gives you the tools to tell your story your way. Download now and embark on your path to becoming a master storyteller.