Add This and Add That to Help Convey The Emotion

Our story for this post is How Far She’s Come.

I’ll bet you’ve edited a story very similar to this.  The story is great, but the visuals you have to put it together with are just ok.  I strive to make every edit the best I can.  Here are some tips and tricks to help you the next time you get a story like this or any story for that matter.

This is a story about a little girl that fell out of a window in an apartment complex.

Our story begins inside the apartment.  The first shot is of the little girl.


I did have a few exteriors to choose from.  I decided to start with the little girl.  Would you rather see a cute little girl or an exterior of a building?  

I use a lot of natural sound from the little girl.

This post is about adding elements to a story to help convey emotion.  At [:15] is my first little addition.  I do a match-frame from her cute face…

..and then I slow the video down 50% and increase the scale of the frame.

 I increase the scale on the very next shot as well.

The next shot after that too.

My logic for using these frame scale increases is I like to pull the viewer into a story.  It’s a subtle way of adding a little emotion.

  • Tip #1 Increase scale to mimic a slow zoom as a way of pulling viewers into the story

Here another trick I use when I think a story needs a little help with emotion.  I’m going to slow the narration down.  I’m NOT going to alter the voice.  Here’s my trick; between her sentences, I put 10 frames of nothing.  When I think a reporter is talking too fast, a quick way to help the pace out and slow the narration down is to put ten frames of nothing or silence down.  When I edit documentaries and use this trick to slow the down narration elements.  It’s a good little trick, those 10 frames often give the viewer time to absorb information.

You can really hear it at [:24].  Now that I’ve pointed it outlook for other places in the story where you hear me putting space between narration sentences.  There are more in this story.

  • Tip #2 Add 10 seconds of silence between the narrator’s sentences to slow down the narrator.

At [:26] I pan down from the top floor of the apartment to the ground below.  I am not a fan of pans.

 Once in awhile, a pan works.  This is one occasion where conveying the fall to the viewer works with a pan down.

At [:29] here me pausing her narration again.  10 frames make a big difference!

Another scale increase at [:31]

You’ll also notice every shot from [:18] to [1:03] is a dissolve.

A series of dissolves with several shots and frame scale increase.  All my little tools to help pull the viewer in and add a little emotion.

I also decided to add music to the story.  I chose something straightforward and unrecognizable. 

At 1:03, there are no more dissolves (well for a while) and no more music.

Back to go old storytelling.

Why?  I don’t feel a need for any music now.  The little girl is recovering, she’s in therapy, and I have lots of good stuff to convey the feeling of the day.  I don’t need music here to help.

It’s not till [1:54] that my story needs a little help again. We’re going back outside, back in time talking about the fall.  I use dissolves, and the frame scale increases again to convey to the viewer were in the past still.

The reporter stands up is something that was shot on a different day at a different location.  I tried to convince the Reporter and an Executive Producer I could make the story better and work without the stand-up.  Obviously, I lost that one.  You can’t win every editing battle.  But I’m happy I tried.

The closing shot is that of the little girl again playing being cute.  I’m bookending the story keeping the opening and closing shots similar.  I also think this is a much better shot than say an exterior.

Thanks for reading

Shawn Montano

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