Video and audio postproduction

Aesthetics of Editing - May '24

Learn the craft of documentary editing with Peabody-winning director/producer/editor, Ken Schneider.
Documentary filmmaking is an adventure. Docs are a confluence of art, storytelling, journalism, communication, education, and propaganda--in the original sense of the word--to propagate an idea or story. In fiction, a director creates a world over which they exercise control--as much control as possible. In non-fiction, we enter a world over which we have little or no control. Thus begins our journey. Although documentary has numerous sub-genres, most docmakers agree on this: that we seek to understand, uncover, ruminate about, meditate on, or otherwise consider, the truth through film.

This class will attempt to distill—edit—a lifelong vocation and art form into 7 hours.

We’ll screen examples of openings, 3-act short films, and how to build a scene. Our focus will be on documentary, though documentary is a deep and wide world that includes many sub-genres, including the portrait, historical, films that make an argument, non-narrative, cinema verité, non-narrative, personal film, the music film, etc.


Starting date

May 18


Video & Audio Postproduction




7 Hours



Topics We'll Cover:

  • The structure of film editing
  • The function of a film opening
  • Elements of film: composition, cutaways/reaction shots, reverses/overs, etc.
  • Sound and score
  • Film metaphor, montage, verité
  • Building a scene: dailies, selects, assembly, etc.
  • Editing workflow: rough cuts, fine cut, picture lock, grading and mix
  • The function of a film closing

Lessons In This Course:

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Meet The Instructor

Ken Schneider, ACE

Ken Schneider is a Peabody- winning producer/director who has also edited nearly 40 feature documentaries for PBS, HBO, Showtime and Al-Jazeera, and others. He received a Peabody as Co-producer and editor of Soft Vengeance. He edited the Oscar-nominated Regret to Inform, described by the New York Times as “unforgettable ... exquisitely filmed, edited and scored.” Other films he edited have earned multiple Emmys, a Columbia-Dupont, three Peabodys, an Indie Spirit and top awards at the Sundance Film Festival. Ken is drawn to stories of war and peace, human rights, artists, American history, contemporary social issues, and Cuba.  

Ken has taught at NYU-Tisch, Chapman University, and San Francisco City College, and lectured at the SF Art Institute, University of San Francisco, and Harvard. He has been a panelist for the National Endowment for Humanities, the Emmys, and various film festivals. Other projects include: Soft Vengeance: Albie Sachs and the New South Africa (Peabody), Have You Heard From Johannesburg (Emmy winning series), The Judge (TIFF), In Football We Trust (Emmy, Sundance), Orozco: Man of Fire, Ralph Ellison: An American Journey (PBS' American Masters), Mankiller, Store Wars, School Colors (PBS' Frontline), Bolinao 52 and Ancestors in the Americas. Ken directs and edits in both English and Spanish.

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