What does an edit assistant do?
Edit assistants support the editor in putting all the parts of the animation together in the right order.
They keep a log of all materials coming into the editorial department. This can include storyboard panels, animated scenes, dialogue and sound effects, and the musical soundtrack. They output the film in different formats for clients and other departments as required. Sometimes they are asked to cut rough assemblies for the editor.
Edit assistants are sometimes responsible for administrative jobs such as booking sessions with clients and in-house staff for the editor. They make sure equipment is working and keep abreast of changes in software and technology. They also place orders with suppliers when needed.
Edit assistants aren’t freelance positions. They work in-house in animation studios.
What's an edit assistant good at?
- Learning by watching and asking: observe what’s happening, take initiative, ask questions at the appropriate time
- Timekeeping: understand the importance of working to schedule, stay organised and help to keep the project on track
- Technical knowledge: know the editing software and equipment being used, be familiar with different file types of received material
- Taking direction: follow instructions carefully and with excellent attention to detail, understand what the editor wants and communicate with them and others effectively
- Watching animations: have a passion for the medium and a love of the industry
Who does an edit assistant work with?
How do I become an edit assistant?
You don’t necessarily need a degree to be an edit assistant, although this will help you to gain experience of making and editing animations. Most importantly, you need to demonstrate familiarity with editing software as well as a love for and understanding of animation and the industry. A good way in is to get onto ScreenSkills’ Trainee Finder scheme in the edit department. Even if you are placed on a live action movie, you will still gain invaluable experience of working in edit suites and you will build up skills that you can later transfer into animation.
At school or college:
If you want to go to university, A-levels or Highers in art and design, photography, drama and theatre, English, film studies, graphic design, graphic communication, media studies, physics, psychology or computing science are useful.
Or you might want to take the following Level 3 vocational qualifications:
- NCFE Level 3 Applied General Certificate in Art and Design
- BTEC National Diploma/Extended Diploma in Art and Design
- BTEC National Extended Diploma in Creative Digital Media Production
- UAL Applied General Diploma/Extended Diploma in Art and Design
If you want to go straight into a job or apprenticeship, the following Level 3 vocational qualifications will equip you:
- Aim Awards Diploma in Creative and Digital Media
- OCR Cambridge Technical Diploma in Art and Design (3D Design)
- OCR Cambridge Technical Diploma in Art and Design (Graphic Design)
- OCR Cambridge Technical Diploma in Art and Design (Photography)
- OCR Technical Diploma in Digital Media (Moving Image and Audio Production)
- BTEC National Diploma in Film and Television Production
- BTEC National Diploma in Film and Television Visual Effects
- BTEC National Diploma in Photography
- UAL Diploma/Extended Diploma in Art and Design
- UAL Diploma/Extended Diploma in Creative Media Production and Technology
Get an apprenticeship:
Apprenticeships are jobs with training, so they’re a great opportunity to earn while you learn. You might find animation studios offering the following apprenticeships:
- Post production technical operator (Level 4, England)
- Creative and Digital Media (Level 3, Northern Ireland)
- Creative and Digital Media (Level 3, Wales)
In Scotland, you might be able to find degree-level apprenticeships through the following frameworks:
- Creative (SCQF Level 6/7, Scotland)
- Creative and Digital Media (SCQF Level 6/7, Scotland)
Before taking any apprenticeship, check what you’ll be learning with your prospective employer and college, so you can be sure it will be giving you the skills you want. Go to how to become an apprentice to learn how to find apprenticeships in your region or approach companies directly.
Build a portfolio:
It is useful, but not essential, to be able to show that you can edit storyboards as this can be a little different to cutting live action. It’s worth learning animation and video editing software and creating work that you can show to admissions tutors or employers. Go to build your animation portfolio to learn how.
Get a degree:
Have a look at ScreenSkills’ list of recommended courses and select one in animation or film. We recognise courses with our ScreenSkills Select award where they offer training in the relevant software, dedicated time to building a portfolio and have strong links with the animation industry.
Get work experience:
See if you can get some work experience in the post-production department of an animation studio. This will give you insight into the process and help you build connections.
Take a short course:
Hone your skills in editing by taking a specialist course. Go to the list of training courses recommended by ScreenSkills and see if there is one in editing.
Get to know people in the animation industry by attending events. Meet producers, directors, editors and edit assistants and ask them questions about their work, while demonstrating interest and knowledge in the industry. Offer to provide them with your professional contact details and try to stay in touch with them. Go to how to network well to learn how to do this.
Become a trainee:
Get onto ScreenSkills’ Trainee Finder scheme. Get the skills, make contacts and start working as an edit trainee.
Search for jobs:
Research animation companies that you’d like to work for. Animation UK has a directory of animation companies. Go to their websites and check if they are advertising for junior roles in editing. You can also send in a speculative CV and ask employers to keep it on file so they can consider you if any suitable jobs come up. Search job websites for editing roles and apply for positions.
You might also be interested in...
- Video Editing for Animators
- OpenShot – Free Video Editing Software Tutorial
- Assistant Editor Series: Lesson 01
- The Hollywood Reporter Oscar Animation Roundtable
- CG Spectrum – Free Resources
- Bloop Animation – Video Tutorials
- Understand Disney's 12 principles of animation
- The 12 principles of animation as illustrated through Disney and Disney Pixar films
- UK Screen Alliance – Animation UK
- BECTU (the media and entertainment union)
- Animated Women UK
- The Children’s Media Conference
- Cartoon Brew
- Skwigly Online Animation Magazine
- CGI Dreamworks Animation Studio Pipeline | CGMeetup
- Any-Mation (video essays) – YouTube
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Covers genres ranging from period dramas to epic fantasies screened at the cinema, on TV or on streaming sites
Visual effects (VFX)
Involves making sequences on a computer that can't be created on set, like enormous crowds and fire-breathing dragons
Combines art with programming as well as production, design and testing - the UK’s fastest growing entertainment industry