August 1st, 2011 by shawnmontano
On may 9th I was chosen as the 2011 National Press Photographers Association Television Video Editor of the Year.
I’m honored to win this award for the 4th time in my career.Â I also want to use this moment in the spotlight to teach as I always do.Â I’m very proud of the stories that were on my tape this year.Â I decided to right a blog post on each story.
The first story on my tape was Gratitude is a Common Denominator. This was a deadline edit, meaning I edited it in just 1 hour.
Here are some tips for editing under deadline.
- Lay down all your narration to the timeline
- Create a raw sequence
- Lay down all your SOTS to the timeline
- Lay down as many natural sound breaks and you are aware of (more on this later)
- Don’t worry about these edits being clean just yet
The first thing I do is lay down the narration in it’s entirety.Â I DO NOT place narration in the preview window.Â I load straight to the timeline.Â Then I’ll go through the narration and delete what I need to, meaning I delete the 3,2,1s and the pauses, etc.
Next I create a raw sequence.Â This is one of my holdovers from the linear world.Â I’m a visual guy.Â I like to see my entire raw in one place.Â So I will make a new sequence, call it Raw and drop every piece of raw into this sequence.Â Remember when we would shuttle back and forth on a raw tape? This is my raw tape linear style.Â Yes, I know this totally goes against the true power of an NLE but when I’m under deadline what I’ve been doing for 14 years works faster for me.Â I use both this Raw sequence and the clips in my browser.Â If I know what I want and where its at I go to the original clip in the browser and load in the preview window.Â If I don’t know what I want and IÂ shuttle through my raw sequence.Â I tab back and forth from the Raw sequence the sequence I building the story in.Â I always have scrubbing on when I edit this way.Â Why?Â I may hear something I want want to use in the story while I’m shuttling through my Raw sequence.
Next I place my SOTS in the preview window.Â I mark ins and outs and drop to to the timeline.Â I’m editing for speed and I know I’m going to trim and clean up final edit as I go so I’m not entirely worried about clean mark Ins and Outs. I just want to get them down on the timeline.
Next I’ll place as many natural sound breaks into the timeline as I immediately know.Â Â Did I look at the video first?Â Did the writer note natural sound moments?Â Are there obvious ones?Â I don’t waste time searching for natural sound breaks now.Â As I scroll through the video I know I’ll find more.
So, here is the final product.
I started with a tight shot in this story.
Everyone knows the red bucket.Â When you see money being put in the red bucket combined with the sound of bells.Â Your mind immediately evokes the memory of A Salvation Army volunteer in front of some store.Â Good natural sound selection is a great way to put the viewer mind into the subject matter
Good natural sound selection is a great way to put the viewer mind into the subject matter
The next 3 shot are of musicians playing Christmas Carols and the natural sound of them doing so.
I’ve established the story and what’s it is about and set the mood in 4 seconds.Â Pacing is often a very hard thing to set up early.Â Often stories start fast and then slow down or do just the opposite.Â When I’m under deadline I like to discover my pace as early as possible.Â I’m also going to go back to these gentlemen playing at the end as you’ll see.Â This is my bookends to this story.Â If you can find some element of a story and place it in the beginning of the story and have enough video and the ability to return to that element it’s a great and easy way to bookend you story.
At [:06] into the story I establish my central character with a visual introduction as well as natural sound of him saying “Here we go, help Salvation Army right here.”
Another thing I am constantly thinking about is my shot selection.Â I like to keep up the variety as best as possible.Â The next shot in the story at [:10] is a tight shot.
In deadline mode I can’t always pick the optimum shot.Â But I can constantly be thinking wide, medium, tight.
In deadline mode I’m constantly thinking wide, medium, tight
If your thinking shot variety along the way it will eliminate problems as you edit.
Another element of editing I have constantly on my mind is match action.Â Here is an entire blog post about match action for more detail about that.
Notice the next three edits. I start wide here
Then a medium shot taking the edit right as he turns his head (trying to hide the edit).
Follow by a wide shot starting the edit right on his movement (again trying to hide the edit).
Watch the story again
Notice how often I use his head movements to help me with selection edit points.Â It’s a great trick to keep in you back pocket to help keeps edits clean and hide the edit.
I’m very proud of this deadline edit.Â It’s simple and clean.Â However I do want to point out two things that bugged me.Â I simply ran out of time to change/fix before it aired.
The first one is here.
Notice that gentlemen looking at the camera?Â So did I but not until it was too late.Â When someone acknowlegdes the awarness of a camera it’s called breaking the 4th wall.Â You don’t want the viewer aware this is a story being recorded.Â You just want them to watch with no conscious elements to make them realize anything other than that.Â Well this gentlemen looking at the camera and then moving out of the way is a distraction to the story.Â I would suggest you avoid this as much as possible.Â Silly me!
The other one is at [1:14]
My photographer was hand held at this point.Â The camera shakes.Â It subtle but still noticeable.Â You want to do everything you can to keep the viewer from realizing their watching something being captured on a camera.Â Camera shake is one of them.
Thank for reading.Â Over the next 14 weeks (one every other week) I’ll have a new post discussing a story from my Editor of the Year Entry. Â Look for the next one August 15th. Â Part 2, my general news entry.