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The Lift, Shift, and Delete video editing workflow
I bet every editor with a few years and several hundred videos behind them thinks they have developed the most efficient style of editing…
I bet every editor with a few years and several hundred videos behind them thinks they have developed the most efficient style of editing. Their file structures are perfect. Their naming conventions are consistent. Their mouse is bedazzled with a dozen macros color coded by LEDs specific to each NLE.
Why I jump in here is that I am not exactly like the editor described above. My experience is remote editing with cloud drives, shared projects, and multiple editors. It is quick turnarounds and ridiculously long interviews. Routinely editing down five hours of interview content and two hours of multi-camera B-Roll footage into two or three promos while at the same time working with another editor requires an efficient, non-destructive, and simple workflow.
None of the editors I have worked with have a workflow consistent with one another. One editor will edit audio in the Premiere timeline. Another editor will edit audio last in Audition with a replacement. A third will sync audio in DaVinci, transcode the footage with the audio, and then begin editing in Premiere. While each editor may have found their own efficiencies, a lack of consistency in workflows on shared projects is an inefficiency. To have to first come to understand another’s workflow is a waste of time. This inefficiency boggles me.
This is why I write about my own workflow. If I can be posh in naming it, I would like to call it the Lift, Shift, and Delete (LSD) Workflow because the main action involves lifting, shifting, and deleting in that order. I bet it exists already in another form. If it does, then great. You can also use this method with a Pancake setup in Premiere.
The more consistent a language in workflow we have as editors, the more efficient we all can be on shared projects. The LSD Workflow does best on non-complex shared projects with ultra-fast turnarounds. Elements of this workflow can be used on more complex workflows. These steps will likely come off shockingly basic to most editors. What is also shocking is that there are a ton of editors who do not follow these steps and who might benefit from seeing this spelled out.
Begin by importing into your NLE all your footage, audio, and graphics into folders that correspond with their contents. If your computer struggles to play back the footage, now is a good time to render lower resolution proxies.
2. Arrange interview footage
Create a separate timeline for each interview. Place all the footage of that interview onto the timeline. Line up the audio with this footage by matching waveforms.
3. Edit audio
I edit with Adobe Audition using a preset batch process. Whatever you end up using, editing the audio first gives you full flexibility down the line to expand/contract clips without losing audio and keeps up consistency.
Note for Adobe Premiere users: By default, any extracted audio files will save alongside the original media. These files need to be saved in the cloud alongside the project file if working with multiple editors with duplicate media drives to prevent a “media not found” error. Navigate to Project Settings and change the directory folders to the same cloud location as the project file.
3. Assign the edit key to a mouse button
The edit key cuts through all the clips where the playhead rests. In Premiere Pro, the combo is Control + Shift + K.
4. Play at double speed
Press the L key twice to double playback speed. Double the speed is half the time, right?
5. Expand the main audio track
6. Lift selects
And now this is where you begin to edit.
Using the audio as a guide, locate sections where the interviewee begins to speak. Play through at double speed to find soundbites. At each potential soundbite, stop and press your super cut key macro at the beginning and then scrub to the end of the sound bite and cut again. Alt click the video track and lift it up by one track. Continue playing through at double speed until all potential selects are cut and lifted.
7. Shift selects
Zoom out or hit the \ key. Draw a selection rectangle around the lifted video track. This will highlight the video and audio clips that you lifted as your potential selects.
Right click and copy the selection.
Navigate to the beginning of the timeline. Shift paste the selection, slipping it in before the interview footage.
8. Delete gaps
Delete the spaces between the selects, slapping the clips together to create one chunk of selects.
And that is it!
Your selects are now in one place. And the audio is edited. What remains is the task of building the video from the selects. If something is missing, you still have the timeline from which they were pulled, so there is no need to go hunting through the project panel.