September 20th, 2011 by shawnmontano
This was by far the best story on my Editor Of The Year entry this year. This was by far the best story on any Editor Of The Year entry I’ve ever put together. This was by far the absolute best story I’ve ever been involved in. It not only helped me win my 4th NPPA Video Editor of the year title, It also won an Emmy and a Colorado Broadcasters Association Award.
I believe as a news editor if you can edit five things that you are truly proud of in one year, your doing good. We all have to edit stories that aren’t always the best. It’s those time you just practice your craft. Maintain your skills so when the ‘monster’ comes you’re ready.
This news feature was my monster. This is an amazing story. It challenged me in many ways. The more you learn from the edit of this story, the more you’ll become a better editor yourself.
Please watch Ryan Gave Chad the Gift of Life on my Youtube Channel.
The reporter told me she wanted me to edit this story a few days before I started. She told me what the story was about. She told me she wanted music. The first thing I did is I started looking for music for this story. I wanted to find something not to overpowering. Something with a simple piano was what I looked for. As you watch the piece notice how simple the music is I used.
The story begins with a slow zoom in on the Arnold family in the waiting room of the hospital.
I added the slow zoom (or scale in) in the editing process. I like using these slow zooms to help pull the viewer into the story. The next 5 shots are simply a series of shots showing the Arnold family in the waiting area. As I was looking through the raw I was simply looking for shot variety. I started with a wide shot, then went to a medium shot, to another medium shot and then to a tight shot. The last three shot are all intimate. Â I want to keep the viewer intimate with the family. I’ve already established where they are now I want the viewer to see them the best they can.
- I’m not going to force an editing element if it won’t work.
Notice at [:08] the music starts. But the music doesn’t swell until [:13]. I wanted to bring in music but I wanted to make it subtle. A lot of times when I transition from one location to another I’ll use a transitional shot. Â I didn’t have one. Another way to get into the Pre-Op area is with a bit of natural sound. I simply didn’t like any thing I had. I’m not going to force an editing element if it won’t work. I chose to use music.
The music full at [:13] and the four shots in pre-op set up several things. The music sets up the feeling of concern (at least that is what I hope I’m doing with this particular piece of music). I use two shots of Ryan and two shots of Chad. With the music and shot selection I’ve told a lot about our story. No need for redundant narration. This is a good example of just visuals and music working together to tell a part of the story.
This is an excellent story. I don’t want any distractions the viewer might notice. The video shot during pre-op was a bit on the yellow side as you can see in this screen-grab.
Here is my color corrected version.
- I like to use all the tools I have at my fingertips to make a great story.
I know the walls are yellow but with a minimal amount of effort I greatly reduced the overall amount of yellow in the shot and brought out the flesh tones of Ryan and his wife. I like to use all the tools I have at my fingertips to make a great story. Color Correction is one of those tools
After the four shot montage there are seven edits that all have dissolves. Do these shots cut together? Yes they do.
This is a creative and emotional call. I think the dissolves here help reinforce the emotion we created. I want to keep the emotion the viewer feels with the assistance of the dissolves. The final dissolve leads into the first soundbite from Chad. You can still hear my music underneath this soundbite.
But as the emotion of the soundbite increase, the level of the music decreases. Listen when you watch the story again
I don’t want any distractions. Chad has enough emotion in his voice. The music isn’t necessary here.
At [1:41] I start a second piece of music. Using the same technique as before, the music comes up underneath the story a few seconds before I bring the music up full. Again I’m using music as my transition element, this time to move into surgery.
The second soundbite at [1:56] follows the routine I did with the first soundbite. The music decreases as the emotion in the soundbite increases.
At [2:09] is the part of the story where they are in surgery. I had several shot to choose from. I had many great shots of Ryan’s liver. I choose not to be overly graphic with surgery video for one main reason, Chad dies. This story contains some of the last video of him alive. His wife watched this. His children may watch when they become older. I thought of them as I edited this story.
At [2:53] is another selection of music. I use the music here a little differently. I bring it up full immediately after the second doctor soundbite. I’ve established throughout the story when music comes full there is a change in the story. This time it’s not a location change, it’s the final part of our story, the truly sad part. I have a series of pictures of Ryan with his family. All the pictures have motion on them. At [3:08] the reporter track tells the viewer Ryan died.
I have the music up full for four seconds here. I’m allowing the viewer the take in what the reporter just said. Ryan died. The cliche would be to fade to black. I don’t like editing cliches, especially in this piece. I wanted to do something simple while still visually telling Ryan is dead. I felt a slow fade to black and white with this picture really did the trick. The next three picture are still in black and white while the reporter talks about Ryan. I think keeping the pictures black and white are a clever look and help with feel here. I do however return to color on the final picture of Ryan and his family.
After this section of the story Chad talks about life without his brother Ryan. He is very emotional. I don’t need music and I don’t put any music in until the end of the story. Chad stops talking and is trying to hold back his tears. Lots of emotion but no sound here. I decide to bring up the music to fill the sound-void. It’s very subtle here. I’m trying very hard not to have the music overpower his emotion. Again, I want to keep all editing distractions to a minimum.
This final image I leave the viewer with is one of the final images of them together. I took a freeze-frame of Ryan and Chad hugging before surgery. I turned it black and white and have a slow zoom out. I had a slow zoom in to begin the story and a slow zoom out to end the story.
Thanks for reading.