If you can’t S.W.A.P use Symbolism

If you can’t use S.W.A.P, use symbolism.  What’s S.W.A.P.?  Synchronize Words And Pictures.  So when the narration says, “This Bus,” you ideally would show the bus.

Have you ever had a section of narration and you have absolutely no idea how you are going to cover it?  Ideally, you strive to cover an interview or narration with whatever they’re talking about.  Well, that’s not always going to happen.  Quite often, a reporter, writer, or producer will right you into oblivion, and you have to figure out what video you should use.

Here is an example of a story like that and what I did with it to make it work.  A majority of the story, I felt the shots I chose worked well.  But there are some lines of a track I really struggled finding the right shot.  So please watch the story and check S.W.A.P (Synchronizing words and pictures) when it works, then look at the shots I choose when I don’t have an excellent relevant shot, here I try to use symbolism.

The story is a look at the recovery efforts after a tornado hit the town of Windsor, Colorado.

So here’s some of my logic to the story Reminders of May 22nd

Our first track is

There are still reminders of May 22nd.

I start the story with a medium shot of a bare tree.  I felt this bare tree looked like a tree you would see on any day of tornado stories.

The next shot is of that same tree, but now you see what appears to be what’s left of an aluminum shed.

Then I take a tight shot of that ripped shed. Notice I take the edit mid-motion.  Like if you were there, you’d get here that noise the aluminum makes, and then you would look at it.

Take notice that the first 6 shots in this story all have slow zooms I added in editing.  My subtle way of pulling you into the story.

At [:13], You hear the reporter, and then I cut to her visually.  This is another little trick I do a lot.  Helping take the viewer to a new location and imitating the eye.  If you were looking at that tree and then heard the reporter talk, you wouldn’t look at her until she already started speaking.

I’ve got music going in this whole story, but this [at:16] is the first time I bring it up full.  I give a moment for the viewer to absorb the shot…

…now, my journey to try and find some relevant video begins.  I show the shot above because the mayor speaks about houses with no roofs.

Then he talks about someone losing half a home, so I show this shot.

Then when he’s talking about fences being gone, I use downed fences video.

He then talks about seeing the living room and kitchen, so I show this shot.

Throughout the story so far, I’m doing my best to find shots relevant to the story.

Obviously, the tornado should be shown.  I had to pull it from a file package, so I only had a few shots to choose from to make this section work.

Now my true symbolic adventure begins.  There are several lines of track I’m totally not sure what to cover with.  I try to find shots that have some kind of symbolism,  something the viewer can look at, and it helps understand and correlate with the narration.

The soundbite I’m covering with these two previous shots is

For what we’ve seen in a year, it’s a great accomplishment.

Showing the town of Windsor sign up is just a symbolic shot of the city getting back to normal.  Tornadoes knock down trees, so showing trees ready for disposal is again a symbolic shot of recovery.

This doesn’t require reasoning.  Showing someone working on a house shows repair from the tornado.  I think it’s important to point out that I work very hard to find relevant shots; I’m only going a symbolism route if I cannot find a shot that genuinely works with the narration.

This daycare was heavily damaged, and people familiar with the story will appreciate this shot.  Sometimes an edit may only be for a few.

The narration is about rebuilding families.  There is symbolism in this shot that is just subtle, and that’s the board in the foreground.

Please continue watching.  There are a few other symbolic shots that I think work very well.  I challenge you to find the right shot for every edit.  I do.

Those challenges aren’t always met.  Several edits in life, you just have to find something that’ll work.

Thanks for continuing to read

Shawn Montano



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