Actors, screenwriters, directors, producers, those roles are always top of mind when one thinks of filmmaking. However, as collaborative as an art of filmmaking, there are a plethora of roles that are vital in bringing it to life. One such crucial role is that of the editor. The success or ultimate failure of the production often lies in their hands. The final production must be a coherent project that incorporates the storyline and personality of the starring actors, speakers, guests or other participants, and particular attention must be paid to sequencing and audience perception. Video editing is an art and a skill that takes years to master.
Shiman Hu, hailing from Panjin, China, sees her role of editor as both storyteller and artist, taking endless footage and turning it into a true masterpiece. It does not just take software skills to be an internationally in-demand editor, as she brings the requisite artistic talent to the process. Her video creations have benefited from not only her personal creativity and intuitive processes, but also from her intellectual and inquisitive mindset.
“The best part of my job is taking boring footage and making really interesting content. For me editing is the spice of life. All the videos we see everyday, from entertainment, to news, to educational and other content all requires editing. Without good editing this content is incoherent. Editing helps the viewer to easily understand what is happening and what is the message. Just as important, editing can shape the emotional aspect of the final production, which is often part of the main objective and a truly amazing part of editing,” said Hu.
Fans know Hu’s distinctive touch from the children’s program Happy Land, news segments for AI Talks, the smash stage success My Way, and of course her multi-award winning film The Sound of the Sea, which made its way to many of the world’s most prestigious film festivals. No matter the project, Hu does not only seek to entertain, but to educate her audience, and leave a lasting impression that they will not soon forget. This approach was vital to her work on the television show May I Help You. The aim of this program was to help viewers resolve problems they encountered, especially viewers who do not speak English well and are unfamiliar with life in the USA. Show callers would ask a wide variety of questions, for example why their dog vomited, what to do about termites, how to save their dying lemon tree, how to renew their green card and so on. Working on a project that’s main goal was to help people was more than enough of an incentive for Hu to lend her talents.
“Shiman is a conscientious person and every time we have meetings she always can give us constructive suggestions. I always look forward to working with her,” said Director of Photography Fucheng Wang, who worked alongside Hu on May I Help You.
As Lead Editor, Hu was responsible for editing of the entire show. Many callers had very complex questions that could be difficult to follow. It was her job to edit the content so that it was concise and easy to understand. Many callers and some experts were often long-winded and unclear, but with Hu’s editing it went from slow and stuffy to fun and informative.
In order to make the presentation of the program more attractive, Hu, as Lead Editor, specially designed a very styled opening and ending credits, various required elements, and presentation methods for experts. She took care to grasp the story line when editing, and present a stylish and clear message to the audience in a concise and clear way. Many problems were very complicated, but through her post-editing, Hu added a lot of interest and made the audience understand a lot of information in a vivid and simple way, letting people who need help easily find a solution.
“This show brought me back to my editing roots. I had to put the skills aside first, those fancy editing tricks you see in the movies, and focus on the cohesion of the content. Skills are like the left leg, and the content is like the right leg. Putting one foot before the other, eventually you’re running. The cooperation of the two is the most important, and neither is indispensable,” said Hu.
Since the show started broadcasting in 2019, it has helped tens of thousands of viewers. It was a collaboration between SinoTV and AM1300 radio station, and is distributed both on the screen and through radio weekly.
“I feel very happy and a sense of accomplishment. There are often viewers who call in and thank us for the show. Seeing so many people get help makes me know that my hard work has paid off. Just like my own child, seeing him perform well, he will feel that his hard work has not been in vain, which is very comforting,” she concluded.