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.
I wrote stories as a child. I wrote throughout college. I love writing. I wrote my first story for broadcast for a news station way back in 2001. Since then, I’ve dabbled in it here and there. My primary job for most of my news-careers was just a video editor. I slowly developed my skill as a writer. In the beginning, I never narrated the stories I wrote. This is one of those daily news stories under deadline I wrote. I know this is a video editing blog. I think it’s essential to be more than one skill-set. So, allow me to explain my simple logic for writing a story. Oh, yeah. I edited this story too.
The story I’m going to use for this post is Miss Doe
When I log sound, I don’t write the entire sentence down. I write the beginning of the sentence and then maybe a few keywords 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 don’t always write my log on paper. Sometimes I’ll use my N.L.E. and write in the comments. The first thing I do is put soundbites down on the timeline. At this moment I don’t need them in 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 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-arrange 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 loud, 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 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 takes practice to write narration.
In his story, a deer has an arrow in her nose. We don’t have a video of the deer, but we do have 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 precisely what’s happened. I chose a tight shot to only reveal the dear and not precisely what’s going on with the deer.
The narrations is, “a deer they nick-named Miss Doe was clearly suffering.”
We are [:29] into the story. I’ve revealed her injury. I felt good that I didn’t drag this moment out to far.
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 not to over-rely on her photographs. I also want to try and make sure I was showing her enough.
The following 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. (Synchronizing Words & Pictures) I don’t want to force edits. The edits are where they are for pacing purposes.
Speaking of pacing, you’ll notice the pacing of this story is very simple. There’s emotion in this story. I’m not going to rush it.
At [1:01], Lori gets 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 it when the people tell as much of the story as possible. Try putting as much of the story down on the timeline, then you may realize that a lot of narration isn’t necessary. 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 info from soundbites, and that’s where narration comes in.
- Try writing and editing a story
- You’re writing will get better over time
Your storytelling skills will improve with writing