The Goodbye Talent Edit

Over the years, I have cut many goodbye stories.  This happens in every market.  It’s a story you should look forward to editing.  It always has emotion. How can you not want to edit a story that has emotion?

For this post, our story is Goodbye Ernie

Ernie Bjorkman retired from television news in December of 2008.  He was on the air in Denver, beginning in 1982.  What can you learn from me editing a goodbye video? A lot.

The first thing to remember is this is an opportunity to edit a good story.  You should never turn down a chance to edit a good story.  It’s practicing your craft, and it’s a chance to make people laugh or cry.  Those are 3 good reasons to edit goodbye talent pieces.  Be the go-to person for these edits.

The process for you will likely be similar to mine.  A producer will hand you several pieces of file media, some talent saying their Goodbye and off you go.  The rest is usually up to an editor.  You may have to sift a little.  You may have to spend some extra time in an edit bay logging.  All these things will pay off when people thank you for your effort.  Make people laugh, make people cry, and get thank you’s from the staff.  I’d call that a good day.

My idea is to take the same route, you would if it was a story with no narrator.  Weave the soundbites into a story.  Add lots of moments from the talent’s career, and you have a great edit.

Just like in a story with no narration, I try and use as much natural sound as possible.

At [:03], We see Ernie working as a trash man for a day.

The reporter I use first says, “You know sometimes there is a man,” I then cut to shots of Ernie with a trash man saying, “Let’s pick up some trash, man.”  My natural sound reinforces the reporter’s soundbite.  Just like you try and do with your daily news stories, I apply the same logic to this story.

I try hard to keep this up throughout this piece.  The next soundbite is, “And I don’t want to say a hero, ’cause what’s a hero really.” I use this great shot of Ernie looking left.

He looks hero-ish.

The next soundbite is, “Sometimes there is a man, well he’s just a man.  He fits right in there with his time an place.”  Ok, well, he is a man.  I don’t want to show the reporter.  This is a goodbye piece.  I want to show our anchor as much as possible. I do use older videos here.

I have 9 edits in 18 seconds so far.  I’m averaging an edit every two seconds.  The final runtime of this story is 4:10.  That’s a long story.  I want to keep the viewer interested.  I want a brisk pace.  I’ve got my work cut out for me.

At [:28], I move on to another reporter.  A younger reporter.

She says Ernie’s been like a father figure to her.  I sift through my media to find Ernie working in a pre-school.

I am not just using any video.  I’m reinforcing the thought just like I would in a standard news story.

Next up was the main weather anchor.  At [:58], Dave says, “I can’t believe it’s been 8 years from the day I walked into the door.” I sifted through my video and found a shot of the weather anchor walking into frame.  Kind of like walking into a door.

It’s close.  I’m trying.  If you work just a bit harder, it’s these little things that will make your pieces better.

At the time of the edit of this story, Ernie was pursuing a career as a veterinary technician.  I used as many stories as I could find, which had animals and Ernie in them.

As you continue to watch, the story notices my use of natural sound spliced among the soundbites from anchors and reporters.

Also, notice the effort I made to find a relevant video.  At [1:39], a morning anchor says, “He’s been a Denver favorite for the past 75 years.”  I found this shot of Ernie with a mauve jacket.

That certainly looks like something Ron Burgundy would wear.

The final Goodbye is this story is from his co-anchor.  At [3:39], she speaks about looking up to Ernie.  I found this great shot of Ernie looking confident.

Just trying to do my best in this story.

At [3:55], I decided to add this part with her co-anchor and weatherman.  They are wondering if he’s gone yet.  Here is the final shot in the piece.

Can you have a better closing shot than this?

This was the best goodbye talent piece I ever did.  Why?   I applied the logic of editing I would use daily.  I thought all those moments splitting up all the talent soundbites really made this stand out from other goodbye talent pieces I’ve seen.

Thank you for continuing to read The Edit Foundry.

Please like The Edit Foundry on Facebook and follow me @shawnmontano on twitter for daily tips and thoughts about editing.


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