Practice your craft of video editing within every story

This Route is Known for the Dogs  is a typical story you see produced in every newsroom in America.

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There is nothing special about this story.  It’s simply an opportunity to practice my craft.  This Stories is perfect for refining my editing skills.  The story was supposed to be a vo/sot.  The photographer gave it to me.  I wrote and produced a script and sold the story to a producer.  Luckily she was light on this day and allowed the vo-sot to become a package.

  • The Beginning

The story starts on a tight shot of a mail truck back door opening.  I know the rules.  Start wide, go medium and then go tight.  I understand why I’m breaking the rules (there really aren’t any rules, just guidelines).  I don’t think I need a wide shot of a post office.  I’m pretty sure the viewer will get it pretty quickly with the visuals.

  • Match Action

Meticulous am I with match-action I am. (Yoda laugh).  Watch the shot at [:12]


The following shot [:13] is a match-cut.  Do I need to be this meticulous? Nope.  I am practicing my craft.  The next time I need to have a clean, tight match-cut I’ll have practiced it with splendid execution.

  • Natural Sound
“I am loading up…(natural sound of her picking up crate)…my mail…(natural sound of her putting crate in truck)…for today.”

Why do I do this? The main reason is because she stumbles over her words in the sentence. By using natural sound I simply create a sentence thats tighter and takes less time.

  • The Middle

Two pieces of natural sound transition her onto the mail route.  I had lots of video including a sequence of Lynn getting into her truck and driving away. I couldn’t figure out an efficient way to use it without it just being an extra sequence. I didn’t really need it.  Just because I have the sequence doesn’t mean I’m going to force it.

“Delivering the mail seems like a routine job.” “It’s not the easiest job huh?”

This is a nice little moment and I write into it.  It’s the little things that make story fun. You’ll notice from here to the end of the story the natural sound is simple. It’s easy to have a series of natural sound pops of Lynn putting mail into mailboxes. I avoid doing that for a few reasons, mainly because that’s not how your eyes would see if it you were following here.  If you’re just practicing your craft, pretend your eyes are a camera.  How would you eyes see the event if you were actually there.

  • An Old Trick

At [:28] I use a shot of Lynn closing and locking the mail truck door with natural sound, then she says,

“Safety is really a big thing too with the post office”

I then use the natural sound of her locking the mail truck door.

One shot, two pieces of natural sound, and a SOT.  This is an old trick.  Using the beginning sound and the ending sound of a shot and squeezing a SOT in-between those natural sounds. It’s quick and usually very easy to accomplish.  Just practicing the craft.

At [:32] did you hear that dog bark?  Subtle wasn’t it.  I’m foreshadowing.  You’re gonna hear as much dog barking as I can put in without it overpowering the story. If you were with her that’s what you would hear, right?

At [:44] is an interview, on paper it reads,

“Just one afternoon doing a normal delivery as I was walking I noticed that the screen door was not fully shut and the dog just instantly came out and bit me.”

Now look at the video and natural sound I use to break up the bite and make the story flow better. Natural sound can also be compared to a period. That sentence has a lot of information. By breaking up the sentence with natural sound it’s like breaking up a sentence into multiple sentences.

Also at the end of that SOT at [:56] I milk the dog barking twice!  Again that simple idea of squeezing as much natural sound as possible from one shot.

At [1:03] I have a spokeswoman’s SOT, I cover the last portion of her SOT because I’m butting two SOTS together.

At [1:18] I bring Lynn back on camera.

The viewer knows who she is because she’s the primary person in the story.  It never hurts to bring people back on camera especially if they say something important or emotional.

  • Bring people back on camera if they say something emotional or important.
“Yeah it is a carrier’s worst fear to get bit by a dog.”

I’d say that’s both important information and something with emotion.

At [1:29] I bring her back on camera again for the same reason.

“A lot of customer always say my dog’s not gonna bite.  And every carrier has heard that thousands of times, the dog will bite.”
  • The Ending

The last shot is the walking off into the sunset shot.  I bring the story to a close with a simple shot of her walking away still doing her job.  I’m covering with a closing piece of sound and I throw in one more dog barking.  No need to show the dog here.  If she were walking along she wouldn’t necessarily see a dog barking, she would just hear it.

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