Bill Cammack on Editing for Web Video

I’ve heard it said that in web video, the editor is king — due to to the fast production turnaround times, tight pacing of short clips, and the technical understanding of digital video encoding necessary. Bill Cammack of ReelSolid.tv, an MIT alum and freelance editor for over ten years, fits the profile.

451854195_46fd7b4dbf_m.jpgWith widely aired music videos by Camp Lo and Guided by Voices under his belt, as well as a New York Emmy for the local production My Take with Elizabeth Hummer, Cammack is an accomplished film professional. When friend Athina Krikeli of Elliopa Media Group introduced Cammack to the video iPod a little over a year ago, he was hooked, and started posting video online last May.

He’s since become member in good standing of the vlog community — he and friend Vergel Evans came up with the idea behind the Vlog Deathmatch music video challenge I wrote about earlier. So how he does he treat working for broadcast and the web differently, if at all?

Cammack, left and Evans, right in a photo from PodCampNYC.

“Initially, I didn’t treat it differently at all,” he told me in a chat last week. “Athina had shown me a television commercial on her iPod, so my initial plan was to do the same thing I normally do for television on the internet.” But as he began working online, he realized he could get away with a more rough-and-ready approach. “I found out that the polish that’s necessary for television is not necessary for the internet.”

Like a gymnast or figure skater, the hard part about editing is making it look easy to the casual viewer. “You’re supposed to keep the viewer immersed in your program,” Cammack pointed out — the better you are at it, the less likely a viewer is going to notice all the individual editing decisions.

That said, different pieces and stories call for different approaches. “I also found out that videoblogging is more about communicating with other people instead of “speaking at them” like television does,” so it’s not necessary to work in glossy motion graphics or layered sound effects, for instance. But that’s not to say that less casual work doesn’t merit greater attention. “If I consider the video to be art, or an important piece, like The Harlem Renaissance 5-Mile Classic, then I’m going to treat it with the care and respect it deserves.”

Cammack edits all his pieces in full NTSC DV broadcast quality, regardless of whether he’s planning to publish online. But if he knows that he’s editing for a specific output format online, he may change his approach slightly to take account subtle differences like how frame rates effect transitions. “If I were in a situation that specifically called for me to output in 24fps or 15fps, I would edit differently because of it.”

But ultimately, motion pictures are motion pictures. “The exact same skills, sensibilities and sensitivities go into creating a video for the internet as go into video for television.” Especially for creators hoping to potentially license their work for television or sell DVDs, it’s important to finish projects in the highest quality possible, so for Cammack, “videos that I create are television pieces until I encode them for the web.”