Video Editing Methods: Swoopers vs. Bashers

There are only two methods for editing video. Which one do you use? Find out what they are and decide…are you a Swooper or a Basher?

Are you a Swooper or a Basher?
Are you a Swooper or a Basher?

Before leaving for vacation I was listening to Tim Ferriss’ podcast. He was interviewing Rolf Potts and they discussed author Kurt Vonnegut’s concept of “Swoopers and Bashers” when it comes to writing. This idea states that writers can only write in one of two ways: by swooping or by bashing. I believe the same theory can and should be applied to video editing methods too.

What are Swooping and Bashing Video Editing Methods?

I bet you swoop and/or bash without even knowing it. Each is a method you use to edit your videos (or write books, create graphics, etc.).

Swooping Video Editing Method

The Swooping method is to do a major portion of the work very roughly then refine, refine, refine. Think about it this way… First, do a super rough cut. The shots are essentially just laid next to each other without much thought. Then you do another cut. The shots line up better and the story starts to make sense. You do another cut where it’s pretty much there. You start to sweeten the audio and do color correction. And you repeat this process of “swooping” over the material and refining each time until you finish.

Pros: This process is faster than Bashing. It’s kinda like 80/20ing your way through a project.

Cons: I find I get much better videos when I bash my way through them, which I’ll get to in a minute. With Swooping I tend to be less creative. Since I already have a “working copy” of a video, why would I want to go back and add in some random effect in a bunch of places? Usually I’ll go back and add it in but I know there have been times where I haven’t.

When I Swoop: I swoop in two scenarios. The first is when I’m under a tight deadline. I swoop in this case because I generally always have a “finished” version…it just depends on how “finished” I can make it before the deadline. The other time I swoop is when I don’t want to work on a project. I’ll admit it. I have (sometimes many) projects I absolutely don’t want to edit for one reason or another. If I swoop I can finish it faster and not go crazy working on a project I don’t want to be on.

Bashing Video Editing Method

The Bashing method works by starting at the beginning and then “bashing” your way through the project. You complete maybe 95% of it on your first draft. Instead of doing many versions of a video completing little by little, you work in a more linear fashion pounding out frame after frame, minute after minute.

Pros: This process will give you better results in my experience. I tend to be more creative.

Cons: It could take longer. And it’s 10x more frustrating. Why? Remember staring at a blank screen when trying to write a paper in High School? After the first version while Swooping you have something to work with. When you bash the canvas is blank the entire time.

When I Bash: I bash in two scenarios. First is when I have time. When I have time I can methodically work my way through editing the video. The second scenario is when I’m excited about the project/topic. The best work I’ve done is while bashing. The same applies to writing. My favorite post and the most popular post so far on this site was created by bashing. The founding of this site was created by bashing.

Kurt’s Take

Here’s how Kurt Vonnegut describes Swoopers and Bashers, our two video editing methods:

“Tellers of stories with ink on paper, not that they matter any more, have been either swoopers or bashers. Swoopers write a story quickly, higgledy-piggledy, crinkum-crankum, any which way. Then they go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn’t work. Bashers go one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right before they go on to the next one. When they’re done they’re done.”

My Take

I’m a Basher. Each video editing method has specific advantages and disadvantages. Swooping will get you there faster but Bashing will get you a better result in my opinion.

Now it’s your turn. Which one are you – a Swooper or a Basher? Why?

Additional Suggested Reading: The Six Skills Every Video Editor Needs to Have

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