The story you are about to watch put me on the map. Several talented people took notice of my developing skills. I won several awards for this story. You should have a story like this, a story everyone notices and lives for a few years. Ok, enough about that.
This is an educational blog, so what can you learn from a story like this. You can learn that the basic elements we use every day can turn into an effect. Yes, the cut can be an effect. This was edited in a tape-to-tape edit bay back in 1999.
Our story for this post is New York Street Boys.
In this post, we’re going to talk about
- Using a cut as an effect
- Using quick edits as a transition device
The cut is the device storytellers use most often. I’d guess over 95% of the content you see in film, television, and the web uses cuts.
We often see storytellers use effects to enhance a story. Many of us know what effects our NLE are capable of and can grab any one of the numerous effects to enhance a story.
New York Street Boys is an effect driven story, except the effect is simply a cut.
Our story begins at [:02]. It starts with a wide shot of crowd gathered.
After that shot, we have 44 cuts in less than 8 seconds. All of these cuts are edited to the beat. I’m creating an effect by merely cutting quickly.
I understand I wanted to have fun with this story. Rarely you ever get an edit that just calls out for a certain kind of edit. I could have easily edited this with significantly fewer edits and had a good story. This is a case of wanting the edits to enhance the overall experience of the story.
There are only 3 shots that are wide shots within that series of cuts. Your eye probably only recognized two of those wide shots. I did that because of the way the brain process information. The brain can only process so much information at a time. If you’re going to use this type of editing and you still want the viewer to gather information about the story, tight shots are the way to go.
Try to use a vastly different shot. Wide and tight and/or different colors or diverse elements. This will help the viewer’s eye and getting information.
I’ve established the style in which I’m going to tell the story right from the beginning. I’m going to use quick cuts, often single frame edits. Does this represent the way the eye would work if you were there? No.
New York Street Boys is not about imitating the eye. It’s about using a tool, in this case, a cut to enhance the viewing of the story.
- I want the viewer to see the story, hear the story, and I’m going to try and make them feel the story.
Quick cuts are my attempt to take the viewer as much into the story as I think I can.
In the series of cuts from [:12] to [:14], the tight shot has little going on in them.
In a few frames, you see the drumstick hitting the trash can. But other than that, I keep what’s going on in the quick edits simple.
In the first 14 seconds of the story, I have lots and lots of cuts. It would be an epic edit if I kept that pace up throughout this piece. I don’t do this for a few reasons.
- I don’t want this style to get in the way of the story
- I’m just trying to use it to enhance the story in places
- It would have taken me a long, long time to edit.
So from [:14] to [:31] I’m only just trying to tell a story. I also introduce our first character in the story.
The next time I use quick edits is at [:32]. I’m using it as a transition device to introduce another character.
I do this quick edits transition again at [:52] to introduce the final character.
Looking back on this story, I realized I didn’t introduce the viewer to him like I did with Alex and Dean. I guess that’s the reality of natural sound stories. You don’t always have all the elements to tell the whole story. It is a true talent to tell a great natural sound story. I did a good job. I did not do a great job. You should always strive to tell a great story and have the editing secondary. Honestly, I flipped those guidelines for this edit. I put the editing first and the story second. I will happen to you many times in your career.
At [:58] I use quick edits again as a transition device. The story moves from them banging on trash cans to banging on their heads.
I have quick edits again at [1:09]. I use them for a transition to the crowd. I felt I needed a little crowd reaction here with cheering.
- You’ve got to have a reaction to all those actions in a story
I go back to quick edits at [1:15] to transition to the final element of the story. The New York Street Boys using fire.
Again at [1:22] for the beginning of the fire portion of the show.
And then there’s my big finally at [1:32]. After doing all these quick edits in certain places, I wanted to create a big finale in the editing. Just like the New York Street Boys create an end for the viewers in the mall, I wanted a big finish for the viewers watching the story at home.
Our story closes with a series of reaction shots from the crowd.
This was one of the most fun stories I’ve ever put together. It took me about 8 hours to edit. I edited this story tape to tape. There are 246 edits in the story. It runs [1:45]
Quick edits, when used in an appropriate story, can often enhance a story like this. Taking the viewer in more intimately than even someone watching just a few feet away. Frankly, it was a ton of fun to put this story together.