Sequencing, Match Action, Shot Variety and No Jump Cuts With Amateur Video

When I worked at KDVR/KWGN, I had the honor of producing several stories with Kellie MacMullan (now DeMarco) called Extreme Kellie.  Like all stories, they each had their challenges.  A challenge with this particular was the amount of amateur video I had to use.

The idea behind these segments is Kellie goes out and takes part in some great activities.  For this one, It’s Not What You Expect, Kellie skydives.  This story is an example of using amateur video.  I start the story off with a few aerial shots just to establish where the actions going to be.  You’ll notice I dropped the saturation and added a little blur on the video.  Why just frankly cause it looks cool.

Kellie asked me to do this one as a natural sound story (Photo Essay).  I decided to have fun and add a few cuts of music. The first song you’re hearing is Raining Oil by Thomas Newman from the Jarhead Soundtrack.  I chose this song because I felt it created that anticipatory feeling.

Our story starts out with the man she’s going to tandem jump with getting her all setup.

Kellie is featured predominantly in these stories, so obviously, I’m going to show her a lot.  These little moments (like her facial expression above) are particularly relevant to help the audience understand her hesitation.

I add the owner of the skydiving company to help tell the story.  You’ll notice from [:38] and on the story uses mostly video shot by the skydiving company.  I love to sequence whatever video there is.  Sequencing regardless of who shot it still helps tell the story.  More importantly, sequencing advances your story visually.  Just because it’s amateur video doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sequence.  It just means you have to work harder to find the sequence and craft the edit. From [:40] to [:47] is a simple sequence edited to music to simply get us up off the ground and into the air.

The music I choose for this section is Hard Sun by Eddie Vedder from the Into the Wild Soundtrack.  Another sequence at [:50] to establish they are up high in the sky.

From [:53] to [1:13] is another sequence of Kellie and her instructor.  They’re getting ready to jump out of the plane.  I wasn’t given many tight shots, and most amateurs don’t know the value of tight shots.  So, when I was given the opportunity to use not just one tight shot but two, I’m all over it.  Notice also in this section of sequence, I get as close to movement on the edit as I can; this also helps make the amateur video look not so inexperienced.

  • Sequencing, match action, and no jump cuts all with amateur video.

From [1:20] to [1:35], I’ve got shot variety, match action, mixing up wides, mediums, and tights.

Yes, you can still tell good stories and have excellent editing with amateur video.  So here is your checklist for making amateur video look good;

1. Sequence

2. Match your action

3. Figure out a way to have shot variety

4. Edit on the action or a close to it as you can

5. Do the same thing you do if it was shot by a professional

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