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Giving Productive Feedback to Editors — What Not to Say

Jourdan Aldredge

Here are some tips for giving constructive feedback to editors that will keep everyone’s workflows healthy and productive.

Recently, we covered how working with an assistant editor can be a helpful way to streamline your video projects. Today, we’ll take it a step further and look into how to give solid (yet constructive) feedback to your partners or assistant editors to create a healthy, productive, and fun workflow.


1. Consolidate Feedback

Having worked as a video editor on projects big and small, this was probably my number one pet peeve every single time. You make an edit, send it over for revisions, and get some comments back. No big deal. They seem fine, so you jump into the edit and make the changes. Then as you’re exporting a new version, you see another email come in with a whole new set of contradictory requests. It’s the worst!

Save yourself and your editing partner these headaches and make sure your feedback is 100 percent consolidated and contains all the necessary information. If you need to show a draft to several parties, don’t reply with your edit requests until every party has responded.

Once you have a comprehensive breakdown of the feedback, it’s your job to consolidate it before passing it over to your editor(s). If there’s conflicting or contradictory feedback, resolve the issue before sending it on.

Don’t say: “Actually here’s one more list of changes . . .”


2. Focus on the Positives

Yes, we’re all adults in this industry, and we can act professionally, but that’s no reason not to be nice, positive, and supportive as much as possible. If an editor has worked hard and done a great job, let them know and thank them. Before you give any constructive feedback on things to change, find a few of the best parts and highlight those. Giving good positive feedback on the best parts can actually be more constructive in the long run, as it exemplifies what you’re really looking for.

Don’t say: “This is pretty bad. I’d change all of the following . . .”


3. Present Opportunities to Improve

In editing, much like in filmmaking (or any other art), there are no right or wrong choices; rather, there are creative decisions you must make at every stage of the edit. As such, saying something is “wrong” is simply an incorrect way of thinking. Instead, if you can focus on areas that don’t feel as strong as others, your feedback becomes an opportunity to improve the overall quality of project.

Don’t say: “That first section is just wrong; that’s not the right first shot . . .”


4. Be Precise

That being said, while it’s important to stay positive, you also need to be precise. If a section feels off to you, try to really detail what about it is causing you concern and give pointed examples or insights into what would be the best way to fix the issue. Give concrete examples.

This is where using collaborative review platforms like Frame.io can be really helpful — you can leave feedback at exact frame marks and make recommendations for changes directly.

Don’t say: “I just think we need something else there, you know . . .”


5. Don’t Leave Things Open-Ended

Finally, the last thing you want to do in any of your feedback is to throw the ball back into your editor’s court and leave things open-ended regarding how to wrap things up. If your editor is helping you finish your video project, they need you to share your vision with them. Ideally, unless several other parties are involved, you should only go through one (or two at most) rounds of revisions.

Therefore, it’s very important to leave consolidated, positive, and concise feedback that clearly defines what should happen next — and a deadline by which to finish to finish the project.

Don’t say: “We’ll figure out everything else later on when finishing this up . . .”


Cover image via recklessstudios.

For more video editing advice, tips and resources, check out these articles below.

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