Edward Line: Proving the Artistic Integrity of Music Videos

(Edward Line)

With the evolution of television, networks like MTV, VH1, and the like which once ruled Music Videos to a zealous fan base have passed away. The preeminent platform for these productions is now YouTube, unparalleled in its ubiquity. The views each music video receives is an openly quantifiable metric of an artist and song’s success for all to see. The “on demand” nature of this also means that said artists may rise and fall instantly, leaving only the most beloved productions to endure. These days, recording artists’ careers are built on this and a whole new avenue of commerce is driven from streaming music videos. For his part, editor Edward Line sees them as simply another avenue of storytelling for the modern professional. He concurs, “Cutting music videos has allowed me to hone my skills to edit musical performance whilst telling visual stories efficiently. I learned how to create rhythm and pace and engage an audience through editing when there is no obvious narrative. The format provided me with a fertile place to develop my individual editing style and perfect my storytelling skills.”

Numbers; this is how business executives justify funding the creative works of artists in any medium. While said artists may attempt to distance themselves from the quantification of their endeavors, they are nonetheless an essential part of this equation. Edward Line has worked with some of the biggest recording artists in the music business, editing music videos that have accumulated massive attention on YouTube. His work includes editing music videos for Justin Bieber and DJ Snake’s “Let me Love you” (825,000,000 views), DNCE’s “Toothbrush” (94,000,000 views), Usher’s “Climax” (82,000,000 views), Jessie J’s “Who’s Laughing Now” (177,000,000 views), and Sia’s “Rainbow” (39,000,000 views); and these are just a small smattering of the work he has done with some of the biggest artists of today. The aforementioned productions are representative of Line’s diverse approach in the medium but when pressed about his favorite work he points to his edit of Ed Sheeran’s “You Need Me” as a career defining moment. “You Need Me” earned Edward a nomination for Best Editing at UKMVA in addition to its Best Urban Video nomination. The editor seems surprised when told that this video has more than fifty-four million YouTube views. His explanation about its importance to him confirms that this number is in no way tied to his affinity for the video.

The accolades which Sheeran’s “You Need Me” video has received are confirmation that it has resonated deeply. An investigation into how the video evolved, reinforces the impact of an editor like Edward on such a production. Director Emil Nava had shot the performances seen in the video a number of times with varying lighting set-ups but left it to his editor [Line] to create a structure and form, a visual language that would engage viewers. It’s not often that an editor is handed such open possibilities and therefore provided Edward the perfect opportunity to showcase his talent. The core of the video is a sign language performance of the lyrics to the song with numerous cutaways and dancers intercut throughout. Inspired by the rhythm of Sheeran’s vocal style, Edward crafted and paced the edit to complement as well as highlight the emotional tone of the message. The editor concedes it was highly challenging as he relates, “Not being familiar with sign language, I interpreted the performance by observing the actors’ visual accents and matched them to the lyrics. I edited the sign language performance, had an expert check it, and then made a few adjustments before adding the other visuals and dancers. The director shot so much great footage, I wanted to show as much as I could whilst preserving the sign language performance. After some trial and error, I managed to find interesting techniques to rapidly cut through the footage and which led to a captivating visual style. It was a great exercise in pace and restraint, but eventually I found a rhythm that allowed me to play out the sign performance in an engaging way and incorporate the cutaways without compromising. It’s a piece of work I’m very proud of and which has been referenced several times by other editors and directors, which is the ultimate compliment!”

In a mere six days, Edward Line pieced together the components of “You Need Me”, resulting in award nominations and ultimately more than fifty-million views. When released in 2011, the industry and the public didn’t fully acknowledge the impact that YouTube views would have on an artist’s music and popularity. As the power of YouTube grows, the seemingly once fading artform of music videos has been resurrected to become strong as ever.

An LA based writer with more than a decade as a staff writer for NYC based Drumhead magazine, Kelly is also a contributor to a number of outlets.