BACKGROUND

Slowly but surely the tools for editing together sound and vision into all manner of movie formats have crept into our homes and workplaces. Already, digital video has, in more and less obvious ways, transformed professionals' practices of editing. Of contemporary relevance it is providing, and will allow, a massive dispersal of the technologies for making movies. Youtube is a sign of things to come.

Where the problems of literacy and skill in the UK are usually thought of in terms of writing and reading texts, this project will shift that focus toward the visual composition of movies. Most of us will have little knowledge of what is involved in editing together digital video. This absence is because the work of editing is an invisible achievement in two senses, firstly because if done properly we ought not to notice it and secondly it is usually done 'backstage' from the limelight of studios and stages of whatever kind. Consequently this project's aim is to investigate the usually hidden 'engine room' of the editing suite in amateur and professional communities of editors.

Existing studies of video in the social sciences have been predominantly concerned with watching rather than making. Our approach to investigating editing arises out of a concern with practical skills rather than cognitive ones. We draw upon theories of how people learn by being members of communities of practice, recent work in cultural geography on visual knowledges and, finally, on a longer-standing approach known as workplace studies.