Category Archives: midmotion

Using Midmotion in video editing to your advantage

After Sex Offender is a story on my 2011 NPPA Editor of the Year entry.

This general news story I edited in just over an hour. The photographer was invited to follow the Adam Walsh Task Force rounding up sex offenders.

Marking an In on your clip midmotion practically helps every edit you will ever make.

Our story starts with a medium shot of a Marshall knocking on a door.

The 2nd shot [:03] of the story is this a shot of a resident and the marshall opening the screen door.  Notice,  I wait until the Marshall has already started opening the door.  You are going to see edits taken midmotion A LOT throughout this story.  I’m a big fan of midmotion

Starting an edit midmotion does several things.  When you edit midmotion the feeling the viewer gets is they are watching something un-staged.  If we start the edit and then he opens the door the act feels more staged.  Like someone saying action and then it happening.

You want edits to hide as much of any staging a possible (None of this story was staged and I never want the viewer to even remotely think that).  Speaking of staging, watch reality TV for a really good example of this.  Most of you reading this already understand nearly all of reality TV isn’t all that real.  How else could the camera be in the right places unless they knew what was going to happen?  It’s the editing that makes reality TV seem so, well real.  Editing midmotion, starting the edit after an action has started, hides (which is what editing is supposed to do) a lot.

The third shot [:05] we’ve moved inside a residence.  I use a J cut to help with the transition inside.  The sound of the marshall before the video of the marshall inside blends the edits together better.

The 4th shot [:08] is also inside.  I don’t let movement stop in the previous shot (they are walking in and the photographer following them is moving).  I take the edit on this 4th shot just before the photographer walks into this bedroom.  I use the movement of the photographer to help with my edit.

Notice a theme here.

There is movement/motion at the beginning of each shot.  Something I also pay attention to is eye trace and eye movement.  Notice the last frame of shot 3 and the first frame of shot 4 (previous two stills) the Marshalls are in the center of the frame.  I’m placing the viewer’s eye exactly where I want it; in this case in the center of the frame.

  • There is movement/motion at the beginning of each shot

Here is the last frame of shot 4.

Here is the first frame [:12] of the next shot I chose.

Both gentlemen are in the frame at the exact same spot.  That’s no accident.  When I get an opportunity to place the viewer’s eye exactly where I want them to be I do it in an edit.

Again in this shot, I’m taking the edit midmotion.

This is a, I think it’s cool edit. I take the edit midmotion just like I have done before.  I chose to start the edit on this frame, not because of eye movement but because the Marshall looks ‘cool.’  Coming out of the vehicle he’s got this driving look on his face.  He looks around while putting a piece of paper in his pocket.  I think he just looks cool.

The next shot [:17] taken midmotion and I utilize a J-cut here.  Why?  If we were following we wouldn’t be constantly looking at him. Once we heard him say something we would turn our heads and look at him.  The J-cut imitates that (imitate the eye).

The next 7 edits are all taken midmotion.  I don’t do that on this shot [:44] however.

Why?  Well, he has a caught criminal.  He is just sitting there.  The action of him sitting in handcuffs would draw your eye alone.

Another J-cut [:46] here.  Why?  Well, you would be looking at the arrested individuals, wouldn’t you?  You would hear the Marshall speak and then turn to look at him.  That’s why a J-cut is here.

For this edit [:50] notice I time the edit so that he puts the head down just as the Marshall is saying they admitted to being here illegally.

The next 4 shots there is not much going on so my emphasis on movement isn’t as important.  The Marshall is also doing some interviewing so I let those shots play out.

The final six shots there isn’t an emphasis on movement as well.  The Marshalls have wrapped up today’s work.  I’m simply looking for a shot to help convey that as much as possible.  I’m also looking for shots that look ‘cool.’  I particularly like this one.

I like the rack focus [1:05] from the back of the vest to the Marshall.
It really is the simple things that make you a better editor.

 

This blogs primary focus is on the editing of stories.  I would like to point out a few things about the videography.

1.  The photographer stayed with either a medium or wide shot whenever an opportunity to catch an apprehension on camera.  A very good idea.

2. Only when the environment was under control, like after an apprehension did the photographer shoot tight shots or try to get sequences.

Thanks for reading.

Good Edits are Subtle Edits

The art of editing comes down to frames of difference.

It’s 3 frames here or 4 frames there that can make each and every edit so much better or so much worse.  This post is about some of those subtle editing tips.

The story for this post is Sentence Please.

We’re discussing

  • Subtle editing tips
  • Staggering audio and video edits
  • Maximizing shot potential

Sentence Please is a story I edited in just a few hours.  Under the opening shot you hear the announcer.  He’s telling a speller a word.  I  stagger the edits.  I create a J-Cut and a L-Cut in the first two seconds of the story.  These are also known as split-edits.  For those of you not familiar;

  • A J-Cut is when you hear audio from a shot and then see the video. You make the letter J visually in the timeline.

  • A L-Cut is when you cut to different video but the audio from that previous shot remains.

In Sentence Please you hear the announcer say “Speller you word is Malaria.”  The first shot of the story is a wide shot of the room with the announcer audio.

I make a cut (video only) and show the announcer.  That is a J-Cut.

Then I make an L-Cut.  You continue to hear the announcer but the video is that of a speller.

In addition to using J and L cuts I’m also employing eye trace.

I want to take the shot of the speller in pink [:01] right as she turns her head.  The turn of her head helps acknowledge the announcer to her left (our right).

I am also trying to back-time the shot of her so she speaks the word right after the announcer finishes speaking.  In case you didn’t realize I merged two different versions of the announcer to make this work.  The photographer didn’t pan quickly from the announcer to the speller.  The edits made it seem like there were two cameras shooting the spelling bee.  Create the illusion of a two-camera shoot in your edits.

You’ll see plenty of split-edits in this story.  You’ll see plenty of split-edits every day in every thing you watch.  Split-edits are a part of the craft that you should notice all the time.  No really! You need to start noticing split-edits everywhere.  They are a key component of editing.  Take notice of them in your favorite movie, your favorite TV show, even you favorite commercial uses split-edits.

Let’s continue with the story and some more subtle editing tips.

The first reporter track in this story is “52 kids sat on stage.”

For 52 kids I show a lot of kids on stage. The next shot is that of a speller’s nervous hands.

I take the edit the second I see him fumbling with his hands [:05] nervously. The simple tight shot shows he is nervous.  I also take the edit mid-fidget.  Meaning the action of fidgeting has already started.  Having as many edits with the action already started also makes edits look more natural.  You should try to avoid making an edit before any action starts.  Again this is another subtle tip.  An important tip.  Try taking your edits mid-action more.  Your edits will look better and your stories will flow better.

  • Very often the action within a shot can help convey a subtle message

I want to keep reinforcing the kids fidgety state throughout the story.

After a shot of another speller at the mic, the reporter track is “All with one goal in mind.”

The next shot is that of a speller looking down.  I take the edit right when she moves her hand around.

Her motion helps convey every one’s feeling while they are on stage.  I also take the edit midmotion.

The difference between a good editor and a great editor is something that comes down to the frame you choose.  In the edit did I choose something that helped convey the message of the story?  Really start asking yourself, why is that shot in my story and why did I take the edit the moment I did?

  • I cannot stress how important editing midmotion helps your overall editing.

At [:17] I’m milking a shot.  I like to maximize shots visually and auditorily.  I use the shot and the speller says meticulous twice.  I place the reporter track within the two times the speller say meticulous.  It’s a subtle way of getting more natural sound into a story.  If you’re under a deadline this is faster than trying to find another shot.  You’ve got the shot on the timeline.  See if you can milk it for all it’s worth.  Just remember not to dry up the shot.  Meaning don’t leave it up for any longer than you should.  Vague isn’t it.  Every single shot in every single story is different.  There is no hard rule for this.  It’s a feeling you get once you become a good editor.

At [:20] the reporter track is “The 7 to 14 years olds each won their Boulder Valley or St. Vrain school’s contest to get here.”

I still want to show that fidgety feeling onstage.  This shot of a 7 year old perturbed was too good to pass up.  His expression tells so much.

Don’t you just love this shot?  I do.  That’s why I’m writing about it.  This shot has emotion in it.  As I previously wrote always cut into emotion and never cut away from it.  Do you think I cut away from this shot too early? I do.  I should of left it up just a bit longer.

This shot is subtle. I wait to take the shot the second she scratches her face.  Movement in every edit is what I strive for.  Even if it’s something this subtle.

You’ll also notice a good amount of edits that are backtimed.  Meaning I make a cut visually and backtime the edit so the natural sound moment I use plays right into a piece of narration or a soundbite.

Backtiming edits are another tool to help blend and stagger audio and video edits.

Watch the story again.  This time pay attention to what each kid is doing in each shot.  Also pay attention to how the action in the shot helps convey their feelings.

Little things like what’s going on in your shot and when you take the edit can often make a good story just a little better.

  • Every shot in the this story has meaning
  • There are many split edits in this story
  • Subtle moments help make a story better

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