Editing (Part 1)

Once you have everything recorded, you’re ready to import the files onto your computer and start editing.  Most computers these days come with some sort of free editing software: iMovie for Macs or Windows Movie Maker for PC.  Both are extremely user-friendly and there are a number of tutorials on youtube that you can check out if you need help figuring them out.  Part one of this post will discuss how to get started, while part two will feature some tips to help refine your film once you get the first version finished.

Editing Language:

There are a few terms that will be referred to in any tutorials you might watch and also later in this post that may be unclear to some people.  So here’s a rundown of some basic editing jargon.

Take – A take is a different version of the same shot.  So if you shot yourself reading your script 5 different times, you would have 5 different takes of the same shot.

Timeline – Every basic editing program uses the concept of a timeline.  This is a visual representation of your video that shows the duration and sequence of every element in your video.  This will be your main workspace when you edit, and every separate shot or audio file will be laid out on your timeline in the order it appears in the video.

Cut – A cut is the basic editing action.  This goes back to when editing was performed on actual filmstrips, and the film was actually cut with a razor blade and taped to another piece of film.  The process of editing revolves around cutting and splicing together the best shots and takes that you recorded into one coherent video.  Cut can also be used to refer to a version of your project, so for instance a ‘Rough Cut’ is a rough version of your film.

 

Getting Started:

-The first thing you want to do is import the best takes from your interview footage and voice-over into the timeline, so that you have one continuous reading of your entire script.  It’s okay if it’s stitched together from a number of different takes, you’ll be able to smooth everything out later.  This is what’s known as a content cut, and will be the foundation that you build the rest of your video off of.

– Once you have the main content of your video laid out, you can start adding shots of B-Roll on top of the interview footage.  You’ll notice in the editing program that each shot has one video track and two audio tracks.  I recommend only using the video track for your B-Roll and leaving the audio out so that it doesn’t interfere with your voice-over audio.

-One great way to use B-Roll is to mask a cut between two different takes of your interview footage.  So, for instance if you used segments from two different takes of your interview, rather than showing the abrupt change in position that occurs between the two takes, you can place a B-Roll shot over the cut, which will act as a bridge between the two takes.  That way the viewer will never know that a cut occurred.

-In this way, you should be able to put together a rough version of your film that you can finesse and tweak until it’s in a place that you’re happy with.  Editing is a process of constantly re-working your content and tweaking things that seem unnatural or distracting.  Often times you end up with something completely different from what you first imagined so keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to play around.