Will AI Replace Video Editors?

This study reveals the answer

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by Shiny in News, Opinion

Before you read this post about whether AI will replace video editors, rate your anxiety level (1-10) with regards to AI stealing your job as a video editor…

…Got it?

Remember this number until the end of this post.

I’ve always found social media to be a depressing place. It’s rare to look up from scrolling Instagram and feel better about life. But I caught one post that changed everything.

If you’ve been following me a while you’ll know that I’m not scared about AI in the video editing world – I think it’s an exciting transition. But I’m also very aware that the majority are worried. Will AI replace video editors? If this is you, know that I’m always on the lookout for info to put your worries at ease.

And I think I found the nail in the coffin of your AI anxiety.

As I was scrolling Instagram I came across a post from the World Economic Forum regarding AI in the workplace. It summarised a study about which jobs will be replaced by AI and which will be augmented.

The study concluded that:

“Routine and repetitive tasks are the ones AI is most likely to automate, whereas critical thinking and complex problem-solving could be augmented by the technology.”

Let’s read that line again.

Critical thinking and complex problem-solving can’t be replaced by AI.

So, how much of our jobs involve critical thinking and complex problem solving? And what repetitive video editing tasks will AI replace?

The study looked at careers in many industries and analysed what could be automated or augmented, including, yes, us editors.

See that, look how much of our job can be completely automated… 0%. Nada.

However, 72% of our job can be augmented by AI.

So what parts of our job will we find ourselves using AI, and will AI replace video editors of any kind?

To answer this, I want to take you back to September when I visited the CogX Expo, to learn about what’s going on at the crossover between AI and film.

When I arrived at the O2 in London on this beautifully sunny day I was met by a wall of abrasive security and police.

“Where’s your lanyard?” the security guy barked.

“I need to pick it up.” I replied.

“You can’t get past without a confirmation email.” he said.

“I don’t have it on me.” I replied. I hadn’t set up that email address on my phone. The security guy was unimpressed.

Apparently, the day before, a protestor interupted a presentation from the Shell exec. They weren’t taking any chances.

I managed to get past to pick up my ticket, and inside was busy.

Some of it was fascinating, most of it pretty boring, but I stayed because I figured there must be some useful information I can bring back to you (see the amazing things I do for you).

There was.

One thing I heard stuck with me.

I attended a talk with Jenny Taylor MBE. She is the IBM UK Foundation Leader, heading the UK wing of what is essentially a corporate university teaching the latest in computer science in one of the biggest computer companies in the world.

She has a deep understanding of what AI is actually capable of. She said this:

“People skills and problem solving will be the only skills that are safe.”

– Jenny Taylor MBE

You may already know that Unsplice breaks down the skills that actually make masterful video editors into ​three categories​:

  • Efficient Workflow
  • Creative Storytelling – problem solving
  • Client Relations – people skills

So, based on what Jenny Taylor MBE said, workflow is apparently the only skill that can be affected by AI.

I’m not sure about you but I would find our job much more enjoyable if we could skip asset management and organisation and just get to the fun creative stuff sooner.

Some people will of course argue that this is the Assistant Editor’s role, which could mean the death of the Assistant Editor.

And I think that’s great!

I’ve never met an assistant editor who doesn’t want to become an Editor. So now they can achieve that goal and earn more money even sooner! Without having to be underpaid and overworked on a job they find unfulfilling.

But, of course, there are Assistant Editor roles that DO require critical thinking and analytical skills. In scripted and reality editing for example, AEs are expected to pull together dailies and do sync selection – critical thinking tasks that can’t be automated completely. So these roles can’t be replaced by AI. But they can most definitely be augmented.

In the words of the World Economic Forum study, AI augmentation “will save workers time and consequently boost their productivity.”

Imagine having AI give you 100 suggestions of interesting dialogue from 24 hours of reality TV dailies. That would be incredibly valuable and save many hours of time. It then becomes a matter of the AE selecting the best and most relevant dialogue lines for the story they are trying to tell – with storytelling being the critical piece of problem solving the AI is not able to understand.

In other words, AI will help editors work faster, but it simply cannot replace video editors.

Having been working in this industry for 15 years, I’ve seen deadlines get shorter, workloads get larger, and versions become infinite. We’re expected to create more than ever, and the pay has hardly changed. We NEED AI to help us achieve the immense workload we are being asked to do. Productivity doesn’t increase because we have new tech, new tech comes to help us with the ever-increasing expectations of productivity. It’s come out of necessity, and I’m here for it.

And I hope, now, you are too.

So, on a scale of 1-10, how is your anxiety level about whether AI will replace video editors now?

If your anxiety level has gone down, don’t forget to share this article with any other editors concerned about whether AI will replace video editors. You might just make their day.




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