It’s vital to ask questions before any frame of video hits your timeline. These questions will save you time, keep your clients happy, and help you deliver the video they are envisioning. Prior to even opening your NLE you should ask the following questions to your clients.


What is the goal of the video?

What does your client want to achieve with this project? Is your client the director who wants to make a blockbuster action film? Are they the producer of an emotional documentary? Or are they a business looking to sell their SaaS product on Facebook?

As the editor you are in charge of making your client’s vision come to reality. And knowing what they want to achieve is the first step in making that possible.


What are the digital specs?

Have you ever cut a video in the wrong resolution? It happens sometimes but you can greatly minimize the possibility of it occurring by getting the digital specifications up front. These are things like the aforementioned resolution, frame rate, finding out if the audio being recorded separately from the footage, and knowing what NLE are you supposed to use.

Editing workflow for an 8K RED Camera is going to be much different than cutting iPhone and GoPro footage. Find out what equipment is being used so you know if it’s being shot to a SSD, a P2 card, an XDCAM disc, an SD Card, or something entirely different. Do you have the appropriate reader and know how to get this footage into your NLE? Before you start editing is when you want to find this information out.


Is there a due date?

Is there a date when the video is airing or being played back like at a conference? If so, work backwards and figure out the milestones you need to achieve in order to make this happen. These milestones are achievements like the rough cut being delivered, your client’s review comments are received, the fine cut edited, etc. Once you have your milestones you can set approximate due dates for each one in order to keep your project on track. You can absolutely do this milestone planning method too if there isn’t a specific due date.

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What are similar videos to what your client wants you to edit?

Has your client made a video like this before? If so, ask to see it. Find out what they liked and disliked about it. Did they learn anything while creating it that’ll give you a leg up when you start editing?

If they haven’t made a video like this before have them find similar videos they like from YouTube. This gives you a heads up on what their expectations are and what they may like in terms of editing styles.


Who is the audience for this project?

Ask who the audience is and get as specific as possible. Cutting for a millennial audience is different than cutting for Baby Boomers. Creating a video for a community of activists is different than creating a video for people you want to become activists. The audience matters.


Do you foresee any stumbling blocks?

Find out if your client envisions anything that could be a stumbling block. Are they using a new camera operator? Is one of the interview subjects camera shy? Will there be subpar lighting on the set? It’s better to know now than be surprised when you are looking through the footage for the first time.


Who is going to give the final thumbs up?

What is the review and approval process going to be like? How many rounds of revisions will you allow and how many will your client want? Who exactly is going to be reviewing the video and who is going to give the green light on it?

Also you should discuss how the video will be reviewed. Is the client going to sit with you in your edit bay? Or are you going to post it to an online video review service?

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What is the final delivery?

Where will this video ultimately live? Is it airing at a conference and being played back on a massive screen? Is it going on YouTube and supposed to be viewed on mobile devices? Do you have to burn it to a Blu-Ray? All these things matter and it’s better to know up front than find out at the 11th hour.


Is there anything you can start working on right now?

Even if the footage hasn’t been shot yet there is probably some work you can get started on. Lower thirds can be created, stock music can be found, sound effects can be gathered, and other editing tasks can begin. Why wait?

Editing a video doesn’t start when you sit down in your edit bay. It begins in pre-production when you gather every bit of information you can from your client. Arm yourself with all the knowledge possible about a particular project so when you start slicing and dicing your footage there are no surprises and you can fly through your edits.