Preparing an Edit Decision List (EDL)

Save time and money in the editing room by doing a little homework. This one-page guide shows you how to jot down time code numbers prior to the edit session.

by Stuart Sweetow of Audio Visual Consultants

You can save time and money with video editing by writing down time code numbers of the scenes you want prior to the edit session. Time code is used to find scenes; it displays the location of scenes based on the number of minutes and seconds they are from the start of the tape. Time code also shows hours and frames (1/30-sec), but for most purposes you won’t need to indicate those.

When you look at the file on your hard drive or DVD, print on a sheet of paper, or on a spreadsheet,  the start and stop times, in minutes and seconds, for each of your shots. If you put these shots in the order you want them on the final video, the editor can quickly assemble the shots you need. If your video is on more than one tape, indicate the tape number. If your videotape is longer than one hour, the time code display should indicate hour number one. If you need to be very precise, indicate the frames, too. Either way, it is a good idea to include a description of your shots and any words or actions that you want to be sure to include or exclude.

An EDL would look something like this:

Shot or Scene # Tape orDisc# In Point Out Point Description
1 1 1.32 4.27 Mary Introduces herself
2 2 8.51 12.02 Mary holds up book
3 1 16.42 21.03 John introduces himself

The example shows a simple EDL showing only minutes and seconds. Feel free to include the hours and frames, too.

Remember to indicate when the scenes come from tape or disc two, three, etc. It is fine to add more information in the description column, such as “use take two” or “add music to this scene”

There will probably be instances where you want to add text graphics. Just indicate that in a line on the EDL, such as

Shot or Scene #, Tape or Disc #, In Point, Out Point, Description

Shot or Scene # TapeorDisc# In Point Out Point Description
4 Text Graphic Overlay over Video Creating Book Dust Jacket

Discuss with your video editor if he or she wants any more descriptive information. Generally, if you will be present to supervise the editing, less description may be needed. If you want to have the editor work on it alone, more information, such as frames and detailed descriptions, may be better.

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