A post-production editor is someone who works on films or television with a director, producers, and other people on the program during the final editing and assembly of a completed work. This process is often done under the supervision of others involved in the production, typically a director, though the director of a movie is not usually the editor of the movie as well. During editing, the final look of a movie or television series will come together, and tremendous changes can occur during the process. A post-production editor is, therefore, one of the last but most important people to work on a production.
Post-production is the third and final general phase of film and television production, consisting of pre-production, production, and post-production. A post-production editor is someone who typically comes on at the end of production and works throughout post-production to help create the final project. Some editors will also work during production to help coordinate efforts and ensure that the film that comes into the editing room can be properly assembled to become what a filmmaker wants to ultimately see.
The post-production process often consists of finalizing the music, audio, special effects, and other technical aspects of a movie or television production. These are all brought together by a post-production editor to create a complete piece of film or television that has the tone, pacing, and feel that the filmmaker wanted. Numerous cuts are often made, sometimes leaving hours of shot footage “on the cutting room floor.” The pacing of a film or television program can also be affected dramatically by the work of a post-production editor, as various segments of shot footage can be spliced together in a number of different ways.
How shots are cut together will typically dictate more about the pace of a scene than what was shot on set. The director of a film can shoot a scene in a single take, making it slow and methodical and building a sense of growing tension. A post-production editor, however, could then cut that scene apart and put it back together with quick cuts and completely change the pacing of the scene. Some scene that was once a slow build up can easily become a harried full-speed rush to the conclusion. This is why directors often work closely with editors to ensure the final product adheres to their original vision for a film or television program.