Are you just and editor? Neither am I.

This is a video editing blog.  I try to give you insight into my mind and the process I go through in editing stories.  I’m not just a video editor.    I produce, I shoot and I write as well.  

The world we are in now doesn’t seem to have many job opening for just one skill-set.  Nowadays you need to know multiple skills, multiple platforms and multiple parts of many different parts of many different jobs.  I encourage you to learn as much as you can about…well everything.

The story I’m going to use for this post is Miss Doe

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.


I didn’t just edit this story.  I wrote the story too.  Here are a few tips and trick on how I write stories like this.

When I log sound I don’t write the entire sentence down anywhere.  I write the beginning of the sentence and then maybe a few key words to help me remember the rest of the sentence.  I want to have just enough written so I remember what was said in each soundbite I log.  I’m not writing this on paper.   Depending on what NLE you’re using you can make comments, add markers, add locators and then add text to those.  I arrange my browser so I can see that text.  Based on all the information I’ve logged I start putting soundbites down to the timeline.  

  • Put your soundbites down on the timeline

  • They don’t need to necessary need to be in any order

Once I’ve got my soundbites on the timeline I start building a story with only sound.  I arrange the soundbites so I can create a story without any narration.  I have a got a good skeleton of the story.

What’s a skeleton?  For me it’s just soundbites strung together.  There is no b-roll or narration yet.  I watch this over and over.  I arrange and re-arranging until I get some cohesive story.

When I write narration, I just want to create bridges.  They connect the soundbites.   I write simple sentences.  I try to make them as conversational as I can.

I’m not a great writer.  I am a good writer.  

  • I try to keep my sentences plain and simple

  • I read it out load, trying to make it sound as conversational as I can

  • I try to apply both these rules to writing this blog as well

The story begins with two soundbites butted together followed by the narration, Jack and Lori Cavanaugh spend their mornings watching wildlife.

I’m just writing to video.  I know I have a shot of each person, and a shot of wildlife. Simple stuff here. 

I have a narration, But on Christmas Day, followed by a soundbite, We have the deer come across our property all the time, followed by another narration,  a strange sight caught their eye, followed by another soundbite, Christmas morning, I looked out the window with my coffee.  I simply just created a bridge between the soundbites.  It’s that simple.  Ok, it’s not that simple.  It’s takes practice to write narration.

This story is a deer with an arrow in her nose.  We don’t have video of the deer but we do have still pictures.  The question I had for myself was when to reveal the deer.

When Lori’s talking about the deer at [:20] I decided to show a shot of the deer for just a second, but not long enough for your eye to comprehend exactly what’s happened.  I chose a tight shot so as to just reveal the dear and not exactly what’s going on with the deer.

The narrations is, a deer they nick-named Miss Doe was clearly suffering.

We are [:29] in to the story.  I’ve revealed her injury.  I felt good that I didn’t drag this moment to far out.

I show a picture of the doe again at [:42].  She’s the story.  I only have pictures of her.  The challenge for me in this story was to not over-rely on her pictures.  I also wanted to try and make sure I was showing her enough.

The next narration is, Jack and Lori called immediately called the division of wildlife.

You’ll notice when the reporter says Lori I don’t immediately cut to Lori.  On this story here at [:46] and at [:06] I tried to make cuts but the edits didn’t feel right.  They felt rushed.  I was forcing S.W.A.P.  I don’t want to force edits.  Since they are the main people in the story, I didn’t think the viewer wouldn’t understand who they are.  So the edits are where they are for pacing purposes.

Speaking of pacing.  You’ll notice the pacing of this story is very simple.  There is emotion in this story.  I’m not going to rush it.

At [1:01] Lori get’s emotional after her soundbite. At [1:04] her soundbite ends. I leave her up sniffling for almost 4 seconds.  I never try and cut away from emotion. 

I try my very best to keep what I write to a minimum.  It doesn’t always work.  I like when the people tell as much of the story as possible.  Try putting as much of the story down on the timeline and then you may realize you may not need that much narration after all.  More words doesn’t necessarily mean better writing.  Watch the story again.  There are a few cliches.  I know. I tried but some of those simple cliches worked.  Pay attention to how much the soundbites drive the story.  Most of the information you get is from soundbites.  Obviously we don’t get all the information from soundbites, and that’s where narration comes in.

  • Try writing and editing a story

  • You’re writing will get better over time

You’re storytelling skills will improve with writing

Thanks for continuing to read The Edit Foundry.  Don’t forget to like The Edit Foundry on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @shawnmontano