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    She’s nervous. As an editor it’s my job to help convey that in the edit.

    July 10th, 2014 by shawnmontano and tagged , , ,

    You are an editor.  Occasionally….wait…I’m mean you’ll always have to convey emotions when you edit.  Sometimes it’s easy.  Your subject is laughing, crying, showing emotion and it’s easily seen and understood.  Quite often it may be more subtle and you’ll need to help convey the emotion with the help of some editing tools.  Here is a story I produced and the tools I used to help convey how Kellie was feeling as she went into a shark-tank with sharks.

    The story for this post is We’re Going into Their World on my Youtube page

    This is from the ‘Extreme Kellie’ series I produced for KWGN. In this story Kellie MacMullan (now DeMarco) takes a dive with sharks at The Aquarium in downtown Denver.

    The first thing I did before I edited this story was to find music.  Using something from the soundtrack to Jaws or any other scary aquatic movie wouldn’t be appropriate.  It’s also cliche.  People already have an emotional attachment to the theme from Jaws.  I want to help the viewer understand how scared Kellie is to actually do this all the while not making a mockery of the dive. Music isn’t an easy thing for me. I’ll often spend hours and hours listening finding the right music for a story.

    For the opening portion of the story I choose something the average viewer wouldn’t recognize.  The song is Heed Our Warning from the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen The Score.  I start the story with music up full for 3 seconds to establish mood.

    The 1st five shots of the package are all from the HD underwater camera.  Notice all 5 shot I take the edit with the shark predominantly in the middle of the screen.  I always have eye trace in mind when I edit.  I want to keep the viewer’s eye right in the center of the screen for all these shots.  Why?  The impact of the shark in the 5th shot shown here…

    That shot really grabs the viewer’s attention.  I bring the music up full for just a beat during this shot to give it just another second of impact.

    At [:11] When Shane Taylor, Kellie’s instructor says,

    “We’re going into their world, you know I think if you just respect what there to do, things will go really, really smooth,” I take a shot from above the tank.  I added a slow push-in to this shot.

    Why do I choose this shot?  During the interview at [:11] Shane looks down.  What’s he looking at?  If you place the camera at his eye level and pan it down, this is what you’d see. This is another example of how I use eye trace.  I know this post is about helping convey emotion but there is always other elements going on in editing and I like to point those out.

    At [:24] I have a shot of a shark swimming shot from above,

    followed by a shot of Kellie looking into the tank.

    Look at this shot closely.  I wait for Kellie to have some expression on her face.  I want to show the viewer she’s nervous.  I then cut back to the sharks swimming from above.  I’m following the logic of eye-trace.  Kellie is looking at something, I show the viewer what she’s looking at (eye-trace).  But it’s not just eye-trace. Its is also finding something in the video to show the emotion of the moment.

    At [:32] I show Kellie and she says “I’m nervous.”

    The next shot I choose is that of a sharks opening it’s mouth.  Wow, looking back on that edit I love it.  I’m really conveying the emotion of the situation.  The shark opening it’s mouth really works here.

    With this shot I bring up the music full again. Why did I cut away from Kellie to this shot?  In the sequence of Kellie in the water I didn’t like my choices of shots.  They were either jumps cuts or cutaways adding nothing to the story.  I’m trying to keep the viewer engaged as much as possible.  Cutting a sequence of Kellie dropping into the water isn’t nearly as powerful as cutting back and forth from Kellie to the sharks.

    At [:58] I bring the music up full again and show a great shot of Kellie.  With the music up full and her expression you can really feel the tension she’s feeling.  That’s good editing.

    Notice coming out of this shot at [1:00] I wait until she slightly moves her head.  The next shot wide her head continues to move.  I like using match-action to help hide edits.  Little things like this make an average editor better.

    At [1:25] Kellie goes underwater and I change the music. I’m now using the song Grand Central from the soundtrack to the movie K-Pax.

    This song has a feel of discovery.  I want the viewer to realize Kellie is not so nervous anymore.  She is intrigued by her dive.

    I bring the music up full several more times.  The shots are beautiful.  Kellie’s taking this all in. I want the viewer to take it all in too.  So, I let a few shot just breathe.

    This was a fun piece to edit.  Great underwater shots to choose from.  I kept my editing very simple.  Trying to let shots breathe.  Simple music and notice no dissolves.

    Thanks for reading.  Don’t forget to like The Edit Foundry on Facebook.

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    Make Your Editor Happy with Screen Direction

    July 10th, 2014 by shawnmontano

    Have you ever crossed the axis,violated screen direction?  Stop it!  

    Ok, there are about 15-thousand reasons why you’ll do this.  Relax, I’m here to help.  

    A quick review just in case you don’t know what a axis in video production is and a few definitions.


    • Action Line – This imaginary line follows the direction that the people or object are facing. 
    • If you keep your camera and people (or object) on opposite sides of the action line, screen direction is never a problem.
    • Frame Left – indicates movement towards the left side of the screen.
    • Frame Right – indicates movement toward the right of the screen.

    The story I’m going to use for this post is Slow but Steady found on my Youtube page

    The story starts out with video that was given to us by Thunder Valley Motocross.  It’s a montage of shots from various races.

    Even though this was given to me I edited it with screen direction in mind. Notice all shots from from [:00] to [:11] are frame left.  There is one shot at [:11] in the music full montage I take from frame right.  Why?  When I’m in montage mode, I like to break rules and go for coolness of shots.  I liked the way the shots from frame left and frame right worked.

    After that montage I go back to all shots frame left until the I take the interview full at [:18].  Then all shot are frame right, back to interview. After that I tried to cluster several shot in which in action is coming mostly straight at you. Some are frame left and some are frame right but because they are mostly head on I didn’t feel the direction change was to drastic to be visually unpleasant.

    At [:38] is a shot of Kellie on the bike, followed by a shot of the wheel, followed by Kellie on a motorcycle going over a bump.  I break screen direction with all three of these shot.  It works because they are all tight shots, I haven’t established any real screen direction and it’s a mini-montage.

    I want you to respect the guidelines of screen direction.  I also want you to be creative and figure out ways to violate screen direction without it being visually jarring.

    At [:40] Kellie and David are talking getting her ready to ride.  The action line keeps David frame left and Kellie frame right. Pretty obvious.  So, a bad idea would of been to all of a sudden start shooting from the other side of the axis.  That would of put Kellie on the left side of the screen and David on the right.  That’s the type of screen violation you do want to avoid.  Keep people on the same action line unless you have a reason to break this.  Don’t just break your axis in this type of situation without a good reason.

    Oh no!!!  at [1:04] they switch sides.  Kellie is now frame left and David is frame right.

    Cutting those two shot together with the reverse in screen direction looks bad, feels bad and I won’t do it.

     Lucky for me, I have a pan-up that helps me get out of my reverse frame problem.  So, now the screen direction doesn’t look so bad.  You are going to run into screen direction problems all the time.  Find a solution.  It’ll make you better as an editor.

    If you’re a videographer and this happens, remember to shoot yourself out of the problem.  You and your editor (again may be you) will thank you in the edit bay.  Now, we cannot control David moving around and sometimes we can control screen direction problems in the field.  As an editor it’s your job to make sure this doesn’t get in the way.

    How do I you do that?  

    At [1:11] Dave is frame left.  I wait until he’s out of the shot to make the edit.

    Dave is now frame right.  I use a shot of Kellie’s hands and their torsos to make the jump less harsh.

    When Kellie finally starts riding the bike she rides away from the camera.  Notice I take the edit when she slightly leans left to get her around and back.

    From there on in the sequence she’s always riding frame left.

    At [2:00] she reverse’s direction.  I use another pan up to help me get out of this looking to jarring.  Two pan-ups to get me out of screen direction problems.  Remember that.

    The next 3 shots are frame right.  In the third shot I allow her to turn in the shot.

    and now I can get her going frame left.

    At [2:22] I let her turn in frame again, allowing me to get her going screen right again.  The reason why I turned her around again is because her final little post interview she’s frame right.  I’m thinking ahead making sure I don’t have a screen direction problem.  Yeah, you better be thinking ahead too!  

    A 4 shot montage after the interview I break the screen direction rule (I mean guideline) again. why?  I’m in montage mode and don’t follow the screen direction rule (That’s my own little rule or guideline).

    • Screen direction helps the viewer understand your visual realm you are creating.
    • The action line keeps people or objects on the correct sides of the frame.
    • Imitate the eye.  People and objects don’t reverse screen direction in the real world, why do it in editing.
    • You can break screen direction, just understand the rule (or guideline) before you break it.

    Thanks for reading.  Don’t forget to like The Edit Foundry on Facebook.

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    The Guideline of Six in Video Editing

    April 28th, 2014 by shawnmontano

    The guidelines of six come from the rule of six. What’s the rule of six you ask?  It’s a rule originally published by Walter Murch in the book  The Blink of An Eye, by Walter Murch.



     Walter Murch is a film editor.  He’s the editor responsible for Apocalypse Now, The Godfather III and many others films.

    The Rule of six is a list of rules you should follow with each cut you make.

    1) Emotion
    2) Story
    3) Rhythm or pacing
    4) Eye-trace (leading or directing the eye to what the viewer should look at)
    5) Two-dimensional plane of Screen (or screen direction/180 rule)
    6) Three-dimensional space of action (or continuity)

    This list was developed for film.  This list could and should be applied to all visual storytelling.  It’s a logic to the edit decisions you make every day.  I’ve broken down a story you can see the rule of six in action.  I’m not a big fan or rules.  I prefer guidelines.  So, from here on out we’ll refer to this as The Guidelines of Six in Video Editing.  I use this in news, program, documentary, corporate and commercial/promotional editing.

    The story we’re going to break down is  We’re Just Floating Along.

    This is a segment from the Extreme Kellie franchise I edited at KDVR/KWGN.  I start the story with an aerial of paragliders.


    The next shot is that of a shadow of a paraglider.


    The action of the shot is happening at the same position in both shots.  The action is just left of center, that’s not by accident.  That’s me wanting you to look at exactly what I want you to look at. I’m using rule#4, eye-trace (leading or directing the eye to what the viewer should look at).


    The next shot I’m cutting for rhythm/pacing, rule 3.

    I always like to think about eye trace (rule 4) when I’m editing.  Every shot won’t work and nor should you try and make every shot work.  If you went for eye trace in each shot you’d spend a lot of time looking and not a lot of time cutting.  I’m cutting for rhythm or pacing here.  I wanna maintain a certain pace and this rule overrides eye trace.  Ah yeah,  you should follow the guidelines in order.  Keeps these rules (or guidelines as I like to call them) at the top of your mind as you cut.  Heck, maybe you should print this out and paste in on you NLE for future edits.

    1) Emotion
    2) Story
    3) Rhythm or pacing
    4) Eye-trace (leading or directing the eye to what the viewer should look at)
    5) Two-dimensional plane of Screen (or screen direction/180 rule)
    6) Three-dimensional space of action (or continuity)

    The number #1 guidelines for storytelling is emotion.  Remember, emotion overrides all.   I don’t care if the video is blue, if the shot is shaky, if there is a swish pan to get to the emotion. 


    Never cut away from emotion, always cut to emotion.

    Guideline #2 is the story. Really starting thinking about this rule.  I mean really, really start thinking about this rule.  Did you advance your story?  You should always be advancing your story.  If you not then see if the reason why you’re making a cut falls under guidelines 3,4,5 or 6.  

    Back to the video we go.


     I do a series of faster edits at [:08] for rhythm. I’m simply cutting to the music.  Notice the paragliders are mostly centered in this series of shots.  I always have eye trace in the back of my thoughts.

    Now here’s a spot that you could argue that rhythm, guideline 3, is over-riding story, guideline 2. The shots are still relevant to the story.  I’m not showing crazy tights shot of the sky?  I’m showing paragliders.  Story and rhythm are working together here.

    Back to eye trace here at [:11]  Paragliders are just above center and just to the left.



    In that same spot just above center and to the left, Kelly’s head (The instructor Kelly, not the anchor Kellie); more eye trace in action. 


    The shot at [:23] is for rhythm and advancing the story.  As you can see no eye trace into the edit.  But, out of the edit take a look at [:25]


    You are looking at the paraglider. Your eyes are looking just left of center frame.  I’m getting you ready to look at what I want you to which is…


    …at [:27] Kelly (instructor) putting the harness on Kellie (anchor).

    Ok, I’ve think you’ve got the whole eye trace thing.  So, I’m not going to point those out any more.

    The shot from Kellie and Kelly wide above to the shot tight shot Kellie putting on the backpack fall under two dimensional plane of screen (screen direction), or guideline 5.  Kellie (anchor) is on the left and Kelly (the instructor) is on the right.  


    I maintain screen direction but I override continuity rule 6.  Do you see how Kellie (anchor) turned at         [:28].  She facing left at [:28],


    but facing right in the tight shot at [:29]

    I maintain screen direction but I break continuity.

    A word about guideline #6, three dimensional space of action or continuity. Continuity is the guideline that is incredibly hard to maintain in broadcast news editing.  The easiest way to get around continuity is tight shots.


     From [:45] to [:59] I’m just thinking about guideline 4 or screen direction.  This is a sequence of getting the paragliders up.  I’m also advancing the story, guideline 2.

    At [:59] I cut to a shot of Kellie giving the camera a thumbs up.


    This shot is for emotion, guideline #1.  I’m showing Kellie’s enthusiasm.

    From [1:00] to [1:10] I’m thinking about rhythm.

    At [1:11] Kellie talks about being nervous.

    Emotion, guideline #1.  I’m NOT going to make a cut even though the photographer adjusts the iris during the shot.  I break rhythm too by keeping this shot up so long. This is a true example of emotion over-riding all.


    From [1:20] to [1:44] I’m cutting for rhythm and for story.

    At [1:45] Kellie shows emotion and I stay with it.


     There are several more examples of the guidelines of six and how it implies to each edit. I invite you to watch the piece and really look at each edit and ask yourself, why did he do that?

    Rarely is one edit made based on one guideline, more often several rules are in play.

    I do want to point out something toward the end of the story.

    These 3 shots are jump cuts.




    and I don’t care.

    Each shot has emotion.  No need to cut away from it.  This is another example of emotion over-riding all.

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    Sequencing, Match Action, Shot Variety and No Jump Cuts With Amateur Video

    April 21st, 2014 by shawnmontano

    When I worked at KDVR/KWGN I had the honor of producing several stories with Kellie MacMullan (now DeMarco) called Extreme Kellie.  Like all stories they each had their challenges.  A challenge with this particular was the amount of amateur video I had to use.

    The ideas behind these segments is Kellie goes out and takes part in some great activities.  For this one, It’s Not What You Expect, Kellie skydives.  This story is an example of using amateur video.  I start the story off with a few aerial shots just to establish where the actions going to be.  You’ll notice I dropped the saturation and added a little blur on the video.  Why, just frankly cause it looks cool.

    Kellie asked me to do this one as a natural sound story (Photo Essay).  I decided to have fun and add a few cuts of music. The first song you’re hearing is Raining Oil by Thomas Newman from the Jarhead Soundtrack.  I chose this song because I felt it created that anticipatory feeling.

    Our story starts out with the man she’s going to tandem jump with getting her all set up.

    Kellie is featured predominantly in these stories, so obviously I’m going to show her a lot.  These little moments (like her facial expression above) are particularly important to help the audience understand her hesitation.

    I add the owner of the skydiving company to help tell the story.  You’ll notice from [:38] and on the story uses mostly video shot by the skydiving company.  I love to sequence whatever video there is.  Sequencing regardless of who shot it still helps tell the story.  More importantly sequencing advances your story visually.  Just because it’s amateur video doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sequence.  It just means you have to work harder to find the sequence and craft the edit. From [:40] to [:47] is a simple sequence edited to music to simply get us up off the ground and into the air.

    The music I choose for this section is Hard Sun by Eddie Vedder from the Into the Wild Soundtrack.  Another sequence at [:50] to establish they are up high in the sky.

    From [:53] to [1:13] is another sequence of Kellie and her instructor.  They’re getting ready to jump out of the plane.  I wasn’t given many tight shot and most amateurs don’t know the value of tight shots.  So, when I was given the opportunity to use not just one tight shot but two, I’m all over it.  Notice also in this section of sequence I get as close to movement on the edit as I can, this also helps make the amateur video look not so amateur.

    • Sequencing, match action and no jump cuts all with amateur video.

    From [1:20] to [1:35]  I’ve got shot variety, match action, mixing up wides, mediums and tights.

    Yes you can still tell good stories and have good editing with amateur video.  So here is your checklist for making amateur video look good;

    1. Sequence

    2. Match your action

    3. Figure out a way to have shot variety

    4. Edit on the action or a close to it as you can

    5. Do the same thing you do if it was shot by a professional


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    You should have almost no lip flap in any story….EVER! (ok, almost EVER)

    April 14th, 2014 by shawnmontano

    Almost no Lip Flap

    I have a video editing pet peeve called lip flap.  Lip flap is when you take a shot and the person or persons in the shot is talking while there is narration.  Maybe they are talking to the reporter, or another person in the shot.  What they’re really doing is distracting the viewer.  Anytime I see a shot like this edited in a story I think it’s very distracting.  I’m trying to listen to the narration and I’m trying to listen to what the person in the shot is saying.  All that listening and I’m retaining hardly any information.  I don’t see lip flap nearly as much as I used to but I did notice it in this recent CBS Sunday Morning segment on Matzo. 

    Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 1.55.23 PM

     Go to [1:40] into the story. Her narration returns and she’s talking on camera.  This is very distracting.


    I try and avoid lip flap.  I think you need to avoid lip flap.  Here a story where there could of been lots of lip flap but there isn’t.  Why?  Because I don’t like lip flap!

    The following story is Passion Parties which can be viewed here >>> Passion Parties <<< on my youtube channel.  Watch the story first, then continue with this blog entry.


    As you can imagine the ladies talked a lot throughout the entire party. I simply chose edit points to eliminate any distracting lip flap.  Watch it again.  There are plenty of opportunities in the raw to choose from with no lip flap.  I still show the enjoyment of the passion party just with no lip flap.  Ok, well almost no lip flap.  If you go to [1:23] I do have a shot with lip flap.

    Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 2.19.37 PM

    Here is a great example of an edit decision I made in which a lazy edit of lip flap could of been made.  Got to [1:51] into the story.  I show a quick shot of the host.

    Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 2.35.18 PM

     I make an edit when she’s NOT saying anything.  Simple edit decisions like this take away distractions from the viewer.

    At [1:57] I do have another edit with lip flap, but I choose to back-time a soundbite over not having lip flap.  Since I’m talking about this story I thought I’d just mention two more elements that make this story work.



    How often do you see stories on the air that, when edited properly get you intimate with the information.  This is one of those stories that needs intimacy.  How do you get intimacy?  You do it with tight shots.

    Sometimes extremely tight shots as to avoid future conversations with a Producer or News Director.

    As you can see I had to use shots that gave the viewer enough information to process what they were seeing, without being obscene.  This was a very challenging edit.  Next time someone asks you how important tight shots are show them this story about Passion Parties.  Then have a conversation about extremely important tight shot in EVERY STORY.  


    Oh, and don’t forget in that next story you edit with all those tight shots  NO MORE LIP FLAP!

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