Keep Your Effects Simple

The story I am going to use for this post is Minimoto.


This story was on my 2007 Editor of the Year entry.  It’s a natural sound feature.  Looking back on this package and the effects I used, I think it still holds up today.  The effects don’t look dated.  This looks like something I might edit today.  I try to keep all my effects very simple.  I am just looking for a few effects to enhance a story and not to distract from it.  Trust me, I’ve had my fair share of edits where the effects were so distracting you didn’t even know what the story was about.  I encourage everyone to play with all those effects in your palette.  I encourage you even more to create effects of your own.

This was part of a program I produced called Colorado Getaways Extreme.  My co-producer and I liked the show to look different, so we added effects to each story.

You’ll notice as we go along, I use the same effect in a story over and over.

I’m going to take you through these and describe how I did them.  You don’t need a high-end machine to do any of these.  All you need is a simple NLE that will let you do two layers of video.

The story starts right off with effects at [:01].  This is simply two layers of the same video.

Video layer 1 is normal. Video layer 2 is the exact same shot.  I increase the size (scale) to about 200 percent and drop the opacity to about 40 percent. This gives the feeling of speed and a blur sensation.  The video is slowed down by about 50 percent as well.  This helps with the blur sensation.

Right after that is single frame edits at [:02] at half opacity of a swish pan my photographer shot.

I love single frame edits. I use them whenever I can.  I could write an entire post about single frame edits…hmmmm.

  • I use single frame edits whenever and where ever I can.  I love them!

  • You’ll see lots of single frame edits in this story.

Next is a shot of a minimoto moving left to right at [:03].  Video layer 1 is blurred.  Video layer 2 is cropped, so you just see the body of a minimoto, scale increased to 200% and blurred as well.

After that is more single frame edits using that same swish pan.  Using a swish pan and single frame edits create that motion feel.

This is a circle wipe.  I just layed the wipe onto the video like an effect.  Then moved it to match the contour of his face.  The wheel is scaled to 200% to cover the entire screen.

After that sound bite, you see a combination of single frame edit and the effect I used at [:03] This is the exact same crop used from earlier.  I saved the effect.  I do this in a lot of stories like this.  I’ll reuse and idea over and over.

More single frame edits.  I dropped the contrast down to make the bikes look darker here. There is also a slight blur.  Very slight.  The quick cuts are edited to the music.

 The same circle wipe from earlier at [:06].  I just moved to to the other side of the screen.  See, the same effect over and over.

The same circle wipe again at [:09].  Moved down on top of her windshield.  Another slight blur to disguise the bikes a little.

At [:10], I speed up a driver putting on his helmet.

The next shot, I slow down another driver moving her head.  I like the look of two speeds juxtaposed together.

This is a neat wheel shot.  I like editing when a movement has already started (If you know me, you know I’m a massive proponent of editing on motion).

This isn’t an effect I created in the edit bay. I field produced this story.  I had my photographer shoot with a forced perspective.  So as not to give away the true size of the minimotos.

A good idea when doing a story when you want to use the foreground but don’t want to give away all the story.

At [:11], Coming out of that interview above, I have the video scaled to 200% and then quickly resize it to normal.  All of these color effects I use, I’m just playing with contrast.  This is really simple to duplicate. Use your color correction filter.  Drop your blacks down, increase the mids, and highlights.

Another forced perspective.  I love these kinds of shots.

I like to using shots when the photographer is zooming in or out of moving to another shot.  This is an example at [:15].  My photographer was zooming in to get the shot, and I used it.

  • I like using photographer mistakes or the moments before they set up for great shots.

This is two layers of the same video at [:23].  Layer 2 opacity is dropped,  and I scale starting big and pulling back to 100%.  In this same sequence is single frame edits using the same swish pan I’ve been using.  I’m also using the same color effect from above.

Reiterating what I said before.

  • All my effects are straightforward

  • I use the same effects over and over in stories.

At [:25] scale, single frame edits, playing with the opacity, using color correction or color effect, and some cropping, and that is most of the effects I use.

Those simple things are all you need to create effects like these.

From [:26] to [:43| there are no effects.  I do want to tell some of the story without effects getting in the way.  When you’re doing an effect driven story, just sprinkle the effects here an there.  When you’re cooking, you don’t put spices in constantly; you put them, in the beginning, a few during your cooking and then some at the end, right?  Well, you should edit like that.

Notice the next effect section at [:41]. Then, not again until [1:07]. Then the last bunch toward the end at [1:28].  You don’t have to go hog-wild with each edit, just sprinkle it in.

Thanks for reading.


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