Ethics in editing


Well-known member
I'm posting this on several boards to get as much feedback as I can.

Need to survey any video shooters (especially broadcast) about the ethics of editing for a discussion I know I will be having later this week. Regarding FX and transitions: my take/what I've always done is straight cuts with a very quick cross dissolve. No FX, no filters. The image shot is the image used with no manipulation. Occasional use of fast/slo mo okay depending on how used. Ditto greenscreen if it helps clarify. But the real power of storytelling is in use of reality enhanced by production/narration/editing.
What is your take on this?

So far the responses say color correction to fix off-color video is okay, quick transitions are okay. Just keep it real. And then there is the poster who said pretty much whatever the ND wants and keeps them happy because "it's only TV."

2 Hungry Dogs

Well-known member
It all depends on the use. If you are doing commercial production/promos/marketing types of videos then it's pretty much anything goes to get the message across. If you are doing news stories then you want to make sure the editing is not "editorial" If it enhances the understanding of the story without changing the story it's generally acceptable.

The station uses green screen every day in weather. So green screen itself is not unethical, it just the use that could be bad. If a split screen helps tell the story without materially affecting the story it might be OK. It's all case specific.



Well-known member
Thanks 2HD...common greenscreen use came along after I left eh biz/was wondering about it. What I'm looking at is trying to guide someone I know is probably going to "enhance" a shoot by adding a filter to make the (current) video look old-timey.
Old style filter effects are fine when conveying a short history then transitioning to modern times with full color. A piece I did in 2006 on the 100th anniversary of the San Francisco Quake started with shots in Sepia tone, false hand crank film camera look (and of course period piano music). But it only lasted long enough to convey a historical point and did not include people or any modern automobiles. Lets face it, a person wearing a tank top or a Prius shot in sepia tone looks weird.

I can’t stand it when dissolves or wipes are arbitrarily added for a news piece.
Remember a dissolve changes time/location in a story and slows down the pace.
They do have a place. The intensity of a piece can be increased by dissolving out of an actuality, let the reporter do a VO to counter what the person just said over just about any shot, then cut back to the subject attempting to answer the big question. Does it work on a sit down interview? Yes. Does it work on an on-shoulder run and gun? No.

It is common to use a clock/rotary wipe to convey an immediate change in time such as showing the before then the completed item. Clock/rotary wipes are old so one now sees some sort of flip or page turn effect. Such effects should be used sparingly.

Would I ever “Fix a zoom” in the edit or create an extreme close up to add interest. Yes, but it must look optically correct as if I had the ability to change the shot in the field.

Green screen should be left to the weather department for news programs. However, if it helps the talent to enhance the story, then green screen is a useful tool. The important point to remember is not to impart false visual information to the viewer. I suppose the most outrageous would be a reporter at the scene of a raging building fire, only the reporter is in front of a green screen.
Yet the consumer tips reporter doing a story on engine repairs might find it helpful to walk across the car’s engine while describing the various items needing attention.
The viewer maintains a connection to the reporter while he/she describes that mysterious thing under the car’s hood.

Slo-mo is used in sports all the time. Other uses when the shot is not legitimately long enough. What I mean is say a close up shot of the perp whizzing by in the police car lasts just 3 seconds and you want the viewer to see the person longer. That is legitimate use of slo-mo. But if it is used just to accommodate the length of the reporters’ VO, think twice and ask can we shorten the VO rather than slowing down the video?


Well-known member
Editors, whether for copy, assignments, moving or still pictures, are vetters. The mandate should be to distill content into salient, coherent and understandable sequences to convey an story.

Everyone loves a good story. If the storyteller (vetter) does not alter the content to achieve an agenda all is good. As lenscutter and 2dog pointed out, If you add effects to help drive perspective it's okay. Examples: historical reference or place and proximity.

If you are soapboxing or trimming sound and video to alter context... for shame. The bar is lowerering and "give em what they want" is too often a copout that has left much of the industry giving viewers Honey Boo Boo. Frankly, aint no body got time for Dat. ;-)