I have edited several documentaries in my lifetime. The journey of Hope was the second documentary I edited. Here are links to all 4 parts.
This documentary is the story of Scott Orr and his decision to have life-changing brain surgery. This surgery would help with the tremors associated with Parkinson’s Disease. This documentary was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done at a television station. It challenged me on so many aspects of editing and production. It pushed me as an editor to use every skill I had developed. Before I started editing, I got organized.
I didn’t capture a lot of the video for this. In fact, my photographer, Dave Wertheimer, captured a majority of the video for me. I still went threw every tape (Yes, this was back in the days when we shot on tape).
- Logging is a critical process, especially in anything, especially in long-form.
I edited this is in Avid. Here are some things I did before starting editing. It doesn’t matter what NLE you use, these are all things you can do in any NLE.
- Every time a shot changed, I put locators on the video. That way, I could toggle between EVERY SHOT. So as I watched every tape that was captured, I added locators. Most of the time, I watched the video at either two or three times speed. I didn’t have time to watch everything in real-time. Nowadays, we don’t have this problem because every time you hit record with a digital camera, you get a new clip. But if your recording a clip, moving around, and don’t pause recording, this is still a good idea and a time saver in the long run.
- I sub-clipped A LOT. I sub-clipped interviews, the surgeries, at the race track, head shaving party, etc. So later, I could just go to the sub-clips and look at a smaller amount of media at once. I still sub-clip, exceptionally long interview.
- I had a different bin for each tape the photographer shot. VERY important for organization and for sanity. This is still something I do to this day. I make many, many bins in long-form edits. I try to keep the number of clips in a bin small. In a documentary, I’m usually editing sections at a time. So, it makes bins correspond to these sections as best I can. I re-arrange bins all the time, moving clips around in bins to be better organized. The last documentary I edited I spent over 6 months on, so I knew to reorganize in the end was still a time saver.
- I have additional bins for music, graphics, sequences, etc.
- I made sure my media was as organized as I could possibly have it.
- I also made sure my media was organized in folders on my scratch. I am very, very organized. I can’t tell you how much time this had saved, especially when I needed to find a clip or move media to different drives.
Here is an example of the folder structure I had on a recent project.
Within my master folder are sub-folders. Within my sub-folder are more sub-folders. See how I broke down folders by various cameras used. I have a folder for animations, graphics, music, and VOs.
- Keep Organized!
Get organized. Over-organize. Practice getting organized.
I have noted all over the place. I have notes on paper, and I have digital notes. When I put locators on the video, I write notes on the locator all the time. It is an excellent practice to get into. If you don’t know how to put a locator on a clip on in the timeline, I sincerely suggest you invest some time learning how to do that.
Do whatever you can BEFORE the edit to be the most organized video editor you possibly can.