I have a love/hate relationship with video editing, depending on which point I’m at. My initial ingestion of content and first edit is always tedious, but once I’ve edited the time line sound bites, I feel as though I’m more than half way there. But sometimes I lose sight of some critical thoughts in the process. Here’s a few:
- Remember your commitment / story. Your story gets told and comes alive in the editing. If you don’t have a clear and concise message or story that you want to tell, then go no further, until you do. I have found when editing the latest short film in the Like A Woman series, that there is more than one message to relay. This video is about Simona de Silvestro, one of the few female professional race car drivers who races for the Andretti Autosport Team in Formula E (electric). It has two themes – one, about a woman in a man’s profession and another about electric racing. It’s tough to get across one theme in a film that is less than 3 minutes long, let alone two themes. I knew that I needed to be concise and to deliver the messages organically without forcing the issues. As much as Simona is one of the few females in this profession, she still wants to be known as the best driver she can be .
- Let a piece breathe. I always make the mistake of trying to squeeze too much dialog into a short piece. It took me a dozen cuts, each time, taking out soundbites and stretching them over added b-roll to get the balance just right. Breathing gives the audience a rest and allows them to digest the information better.
- Don’t try to be perfect. In an effort to leave no stone unturned in regards to my b-roll, I initially went through everything and then put all the selects on a timeline (or in a event). It was the first time we shot 4K GoPro footage and I put that in a separate event on a timeline. It was a big mistake. It took me a long time to make the timeline and an even longer time to look for a clip within the timeline. Next time, I will edit my clips from my bin and mark “favorites” as I go along, which is what I usually do, and is much faster.. Not sure why I departed from that approach, but I learned my lesson.
- Audio is everything. The interview with Simona was challenging. We were literally in a tent set up on the side of an active roadway. Even with a shotgun mics and a lavalier with an undercover we still picked up some background noise of the traffic. I did everything I could think of to blend the sound including S-Curve transitions and adding another noise track to fill in the dead air spots. I’m not totally happy with it, but I’d like to up my skills in audio mixing. My only consolation is that the story is about racing, so the audio is somewhat acceptable.
- 4K – What a memory suck! I love the results from the GoPro Hero 4 Black but the clips are difficult to view as it can be sluggish. But, because my final output is HD 1920X1080, I was able to crop the 4K and/or blow it up and it looked great.
Check out the other short videos and portraits on the Like A Woman channel. And please like our FB page.
Do you ever feel stuck – like you just can’t quite make it to the finish line? This can happen for a number of reasons – your plan wasn’t well thought through – your perfectionism has stopped you – you don’t see the big picture or you can’t break down the details – or maybe you never had a goal to begin with.
The one thing I try to do whenever I think about embarking on a project is to define my end goal – “What are my expectations?” When I make myself think about my end goal, it forces me to clearly define it. This allows me to assess my underlying motivations, cut out the chaff and move forward to stay on target and reach the finish line.
Sounds simple, but the problems arise when I let other people sidetrack me from my original goal. For example: when I was working on the trailer for Opening Our Eyes, I posted my work in progress on Vimeo and shared it with friends and colleagues. Many people offered up advice and solutions according to how they wanted to see the story to unfold. Some suggested that my daughter and I (the filmmakers) should be more present in the trailer and in the film itself. Some thought we shouldn’t be in it at all. At one point I started to incorporate everyone’s suggestions and ended up with a trailer that was neither here nor there. I had lost sight of my own end goal and I needed to step back from the edit, the technology and the influence and ask myself “What is it I’m trying to say?”
Well intentioned people in our life can easily distract us from our own purpose and before you know it you’re not living the life you are meant to live and you can’t understand why you’re not getting anywhere. When this has happened in my life’s journey, it’s usually taken something “bad” or “good” to take place, that stops me in my tracks and makes me step back from the noise and ask myself “What is my end goal? – Where is it I’m trying to get to?” I don’t always have a clear answer but at least I’ve taken notice of the question.
I think that’s the key – to take notice of how you’re living your life and if you are on the right path. Goals come and go and it’s all those little unexpected surprises that life throws at you that determine the outcome. We can’t control everything in our lives but we can take notice of where we are going and ask ourselves “Is that the destination we are bound for?”
Like anything else the best way to learn how to do something is to “see” how it’s done. I wanted to create a trailer for my documentary. I’m working with a professional editor on this project but while he is getting acquainted with over 160 hours of footage, I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could create a trailer.
For me, it’s always much harder to edit a very short piece. Everything becomes more critical – every cut – every shot – every sound bite and sound effect – every slate and every high and low in the music. And trailers are the ultimate shorts. You need to peak someone’s interest and make them wanting more.
I started paying attention to the trailers on DVD’s and online. I watched them to see how they were constructed. I analyzed them and paid close attention to things like sound effects, music and slates and if it made me want to see the movie. There were a couple of trailers in particular that I really liked, each for different reasons. One trailer was for the film I Am. This trailer gave me some ideas on how to use music and text to deliver the story idea in a concise way and get people’s attention. I also liked it because it was just vague enough to intrigue me but not to confuse me. Another trailer I like is Dennis Connor’s Breaking Boundaries; the Art of Alex Masket. There are a lot of things I love about this trailer. Dennis’s subject Alex Masket couldn’t communicate verbally so Dennis blended visuals of Alex using other people’s sound bites as the narrative. He also had a beautiful jazzy musical score composed for the trailer.
My challenge was that I had to make a trailer for a film that was about 11 stories. The first thing that I needed to remind myself was that it really wasn’t about 11 stories. It was about 11 people but ultimately one story. With that thought I started pulling together my strongest sound bites. One benefit of spending all that time editing the past few months was that I was very intimate with the interview footage and I knew where to look for the gems. I was looking for provocative remarks that left one wondering and they needed to be short and to the point.
Once I got the stand out sound bites on a timeline I started looking for some live action footage and other b-roll. Then I began to interweave the appropriate visuals with the sound bites – pacing them – giving the piece a bit of time to breathe. I also added slates with text to help tell the story.
Once I got it down to a reasonable length – in my case 3:45 – which is still a minute too long – I started looking for the perfect music. I came across Neosounds.com a royalty free music site with some of the best RF music out there. Picking music for me is like picking wallpaper, going back and forth until everything starts to sound the same. After making a few painful decisions, I integrated my musical choices into the timeline. There was still something missing and that was sound effects. There are hundreds of great free sound effects that come with Soundtrack Pro. I picked a couple of them to boost and emphasize certain spots in the trailer but I wanted to keep them subtle. For example I used a sound effect of a motorcycle in one spot and a jet engine taking off in another.
What has resulted from this exercise are two variations of a trailer. I am sharing these both with everyone because I would like feedback. I don’t want to influence opinion here, other than to say one trailer has a bit of more information than the other. One is also 15 sec. longer. Any and all comments are welcome.
Which one should I use?
Watch the links in this order.
If you’re like me, no matter how much you think you know – when it comes to video production and editing – there’s always something you don’t know.
I have been helped on numerous occasions with a little help from my friends and great resources.
Here’s my Top 10 List of Online Resources and Blogs for Video Info
http://forums.creativecow.net/ Info, forums and tutorials
http://www.dvinfo.net/ Tutorials and interactive forum.
http://www.2-popforums.com/forums/ Forums for video discussions.
http://discussions.apple.com/index.jspa Apple’s discussion forums
http://tiny.cc/BbKwL Ken Stone – Final Cut Pro guru
http://digitaljournalist.org/ Monthly online magazine
http://tiny.cc/qcrWh Digital Juice -Tutorials and forums.
http://tiny.cc/vfKr0 Chuck Fadely’s Blog – great info on video
http://www.photoshopforvideo.com/ Photoshop Tips
http://www.lynda.com Training for just about anything!