Have you edited a story that gets people talking? Does it impact lives, win awards, or do people just watch it over and over to learn? This entry is about that type of story. If I were to rank edits I did over the past 20 years, this is in the top five.
This emotional story challenged me as a video editor.
Please watch Ryan Gave Chad the Gift of Life on my Youtube Channel.
The story begins with a slow zoom in on the Arnold family in the waiting room.
Adding a slow zoom in the editing process pulls the viewer into the story. The next five shots are simply a series of shots showing the Arnold family in the waiting area. As I was looking through the raw, I was simply looking for shot variety. I start with a wide shot, then went to a medium shot, to another medium shot, and then to a tight shot. The last three shots are all intimate. I want to keep the viewer close with the family.
- I’m not going to force an edit element if it doesn’t work
Notice at [:08] the music starts. The music doesn’t swell until [:13]. I want to bring in music, but I want to make it subtle. I like transition shots. For this story, I didn’t like anything shot for transition elements. I’m not going to force an editing element if it doesn’t work. I chose to use music for a transition.
The music full at [:13] and the four shots in pre-op set up several story elements. The music sets up the feeling of concern; at least that’s what I hope I’m doing with this particular piece of music. I use two shots of Ryan and two shots of Chad. The music and shot selections tell the viewer a lot about the story. No need for redundant narration. This is an excellent example of just visuals and music working together to tell a part of the story.
This is an incredible story. I don’t want any distractions. So, I did some color correction. The video shot during pre-op was a bit on the yellow side, as you can see in this screen-grab.
Here is my color corrected version.
- I like to use all the tools I have at my fingertips
I know the walls are yellow, but with a minimal effort, I significantly reduce the overall amount of yellow in the shot, I bring out the flesh tones of Ryan and his wife. I like to use all the tools I have at my fingertips to make a great story.
After the four-shot montage, there are seven edits that all have dissolves. Do these shots cut together? Yes, they do.
This is a creative and emotional call. I think dissolves help reinforce emotion. The final dissolve leads into the first soundbite from Chad. You can still hear my music underneath this soundbite.
As the emotion of the soundbite increase, the level of the music decreases. Listen when you watch the story again
I don’t want any distractions. Chad has enough emotion in his voice. The music isn’t necessary here.
At [1:41], I start the second piece of music. Using the same technique as before, the music comes up underneath the story a few seconds before I bring the music up full. I’m using music as my transition element again, this time to move into surgery.
The second soundbite at [1:56] follows the routine I did with the first soundbite. The music decreases as the emotion in the soundbite increases.
At [2:09] is the part of the story where they are in surgery. I have several shots to choose from. I have many great shots of Ryan’s liver. I decide not to be overly graphic with surgery video for one main reason, Chad dies. This story contains some of the last videos of him alive. His wife will watch this story. His children may watch when they become older. These are elements of editing you don’t necessarily think about in the edit bay, but I think you should.
At [2:53] is another selection of music. I use music here differently. I bring it up full immediately after the second doctor soundbite. I’ve established throughout the story when music comes full, there is a change in the story. This time it’s not a location change; it’s the final part of our story. The sad part of our story. I have a series of pictures of Ryan with his family. All the images have motion in them. At [3:08], the reporter track tells the viewer Ryan dies.
I have the music up full for four seconds. I’m allowing the viewer the take in what the reporter narrates. Ryan dies. The cliche is fade to black. I don’t like editing cliches, especially in this piece. I want to do something simple while still visually telling of Ryan’s death. A slow fade to black and white with this picture did the trick. The next three images are still in black and white while the reporter talks about Ryan. I think keeping the photos black and white is a smart look and helps with feeling here. I do, however, return to color on the final picture of Ryan and his family.
After this section of the story, Chad talks about life without his brother Ryan. He is very emotional. I don’t need music, and I don’t put any music until the end of the story. Chad stops talking and is trying to hold back his tears. Lots of emotion but no sound here. I decide to bring up the music to fill the sound-void. It’s very subtle here. I’m trying very hard not to have the music overpower his emotion. I want to keep all editing distractions to a minimum.
This final image I leave the viewer with is one of the last photos of them together. I took a freeze-frame of Ryan and Chad hugging before surgery. I turn it black and white and have a slow zoom out. I have a slow zoom in to begin the story and a slow zoom out to end the story.
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