I have a confession to make. You probably won’t go blind if you watch other people’s videos. I just added that bit of hyperbole to add some pizzazz to the title. I also don’t think you should stop watching other people’s videos in general. I’m recommending that the next time you sit down at your NLE to edit a video (if editing video is a thing you), don’t look at any other videos during the time you’re editing your project.
I know. Seems like a pretty impossible feat. I’m right there with you. I don’t know I could do it. The truth is, I often will bake into my editing time about 15-30 minutes just to watch videos similar in style to the one I’m about to edit. Part of me is looking for inspiration. But another reason I do it is to see what’s already been done to see if I can add a fresh take on it.
But what about this idea of not watching any videos at all? The concept was raised a week or so ago when I was reading “The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film” by Michael Ondaatje (affiliate link). First off, it was pretty remarkable I was actually reading in the first place. I, like most filmmakers, get most, if not all of my editing education from online videos. (That in itself is fodder for another blog post.) I must say it was rather refreshing. Anyway, for those of you not entirely versed in film history, Walter Murch is an Academy Award-winning film and sound editor of such iconic films as “The Conversation” (sound), “The Godfather” (sound) and “American Graffiti,” and “The English Patient.” (He’s also the film editor for Brad Bird’s latest film, “Tomorrowland.”) Earlier in the book Murch tells Ondaatje that he doesn’t watch other films when he’s editing one.
I can see the benefit of avoiding other people’s work while you’re head down editing your own project. In addition to alleviating distractions, it forces you to dig down deep into your own talent and make something authentically and entirely YOU. It kinda reminds me of the point that art director James Victore made in his “Burning Questions” video about finding your style (which I shared this past weekend as the Saturday Matinee). He commented to stop looking at other people’s successes and listen to your own voice.
So this is something to think about. For the next project you edit, could you refrain from looking at anyone else’s videos during the time you’re working on your project? If you do it and succeed, tell me about it.