Tag Archives: Emotion

Are you just a video editor? Neither am I.

This is a video editing blog.  I try to give you insight into my mind and the process I go through in editing stories.  I’m not just a video editor.    I produce, I shoot, and I write as well.

I wrote stories as a child.  I wrote throughout college.  I love writing.  I wrote my first story for broadcast for a news station way back in 2001.  Since then, I’ve dabbled in it here and there.  My primary job for most of my news-careers was just a video editor.  I slowly developed my skill as a writer.  In the beginning, I never narrated the stories I wrote.  This is one of those daily news stories under deadline I wrote.  I know this is a video editing blog.  I think it’s essential to be more than one skill-set.  So, allow me to explain my simple logic for writing a story.  Oh, yeah.  I edited this story too.

The story I’m going to use for this post is Miss Doe

When I log sound, I don’t write the entire sentence down.  I write the beginning of the sentence and then maybe a few keywords to help me remember the rest of the sentence.  I want to have just enough written, so I remember what was said in each soundbite I log.  I don’t always write my log on paper. Sometimes I’ll use my N.L.E. and write in the comments.  The first thing I do is put soundbites down on the timeline.  At this moment I don’t need them in order.

Once I’ve got my soundbites on the timeline, I start building a story with only sound.  I arrange the soundbites so I can create a story without any narration.  I have got a good skeleton of the story.

What’s a skeleton?  For me, it’s just soundbites strung together.  There is no b-roll or narration, yet.  I watch this over and over.  I arrange and re-arrange until I get some cohesive story.

When I write narration, I just want to create bridges.  They connect the soundbites.   I write simple sentences.  I try to make them as conversational as I can.

I’m not a great writer.  I am a good writer.

  • I try to keep my sentences plain and simple
  • I read it out loud, trying to make it sound as conversational as I can
  • I try to apply both these rules to writing this blog as well

The story begins with two soundbites butted together, followed by narration, “Jack and Lori Cavanaugh spend their mornings watching wildlife.”

I’m just writing to video.  I know I have a shot of each person, and a shot of wildlife. Simple stuff here.

I have a narration, “but on Christmas Day,” followed by a soundbite, “We have the deer come across our property all the time,” followed by another narration,  “a strange sight caught their eye,” followed by another soundbite, “Christmas morning, I looked out the window with my coffee.”  I simply just created a bridge between the soundbites.  It’s that simple.  Ok, it’s not that simple.  It takes practice to write narration.

In his story, a deer has an arrow in her nose.  We don’t have a video of the deer, but we do have pictures.  The question I had for myself was when to reveal the deer.

When Lori’s talking about the deer at [:20], I decided to show a shot of the deer for just a second, but not long enough for your eye to comprehend precisely what’s happened.  I chose a tight shot to only reveal the dear and not precisely what’s going on with the deer.

The narrations is, “a deer they nick-named Miss Doe was clearly suffering.”

We are [:29] into the story.  I’ve revealed her injury.  I felt good that I didn’t drag this moment out to far.

I show a picture of the doe again at [:42].  She’s the story.  I only have pictures of her.  The challenge for me in this story was not to over-rely on her photographs.  I also want to try and make sure I was showing her enough.

The following narration is, “Jack and Lori called immediately called the division of wildlife.”

You’ll notice when the reporter says Lori I don’t immediately cut to Lori.  On this story here at [:46] and at [:06], I tried to make cuts, but the edits didn’t feel right.  They felt rushed.  I was forcing S.W.A.P. (Synchronizing Words & Pictures)  I don’t want to force edits.  The edits are where they are for pacing purposes.

Speaking of pacing, you’ll notice the pacing of this story is very simple.  There’s emotion in this story.  I’m not going to rush it.

At [1:01], Lori gets emotional after her soundbite. At [1:04], her soundbite ends. I leave her up sniffling for almost 4 seconds.  I never try and cut away from emotion.

I try my very best to keep what I write to a minimum.  It doesn’t always work.  I like it when the people tell as much of the story as possible.  Try putting as much of the story down on the timeline, then you may realize that a lot of narration isn’t necessary.  Watch the story again.  There are a few cliches.  I know. I tried, but some of those simple cliches worked.  Pay attention to how much the soundbites drive the story.  Most of the information you get is from soundbites.  Obviously, we don’t get all the info from soundbites, and that’s where narration comes in.

  • Try writing and editing a story
  • You’re writing will get better over time

Your storytelling skills will improve with writing

Thanks for continuing to read The Edit Foundry.  Don’t forget to like The Edit Foundry on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @shawnmontano.



The Goodbye Talent Edit

Over the years, I have cut many goodbye stories.  This happens in every market.  It’s a story you should look forward to editing.  It always has emotion. How can you not want to edit a story that has emotion?

For this post, our story is Goodbye Ernie

Ernie Bjorkman retired from television news in December of 2008.  He was on the air in Denver, beginning in 1982.  What can you learn from me editing a goodbye video? A lot.

The first thing to remember is this is an opportunity to edit a good story.  You should never turn down a chance to edit a good story.  It’s practicing your craft, and it’s a chance to make people laugh or cry.  Those are 3 good reasons to edit goodbye talent pieces.  Be the go-to person for these edits.

The process for you will likely be similar to mine.  A producer will hand you several pieces of file media, some talent saying their Goodbye and off you go.  The rest is usually up to an editor.  You may have to sift a little.  You may have to spend some extra time in an edit bay logging.  All these things will pay off when people thank you for your effort.  Make people laugh, make people cry, and get thank you’s from the staff.  I’d call that a good day.

My idea is to take the same route, you would if it was a story with no narrator.  Weave the soundbites into a story.  Add lots of moments from the talent’s career, and you have a great edit.

Just like in a story with no narration, I try and use as much natural sound as possible.

At [:03], We see Ernie working as a trash man for a day.

The reporter I use first says, “You know sometimes there is a man,” I then cut to shots of Ernie with a trash man saying, “Let’s pick up some trash, man.”  My natural sound reinforces the reporter’s soundbite.  Just like you try and do with your daily news stories, I apply the same logic to this story.

I try hard to keep this up throughout this piece.  The next soundbite is, “And I don’t want to say a hero, ’cause what’s a hero really.” I use this great shot of Ernie looking left.

He looks hero-ish.

The next soundbite is, “Sometimes there is a man, well he’s just a man.  He fits right in there with his time an place.”  Ok, well, he is a man.  I don’t want to show the reporter.  This is a goodbye piece.  I want to show our anchor as much as possible. I do use older videos here.

I have 9 edits in 18 seconds so far.  I’m averaging an edit every two seconds.  The final runtime of this story is 4:10.  That’s a long story.  I want to keep the viewer interested.  I want a brisk pace.  I’ve got my work cut out for me.

At [:28], I move on to another reporter.  A younger reporter.

She says Ernie’s been like a father figure to her.  I sift through my media to find Ernie working in a pre-school.

I am not just using any video.  I’m reinforcing the thought just like I would in a standard news story.

Next up was the main weather anchor.  At [:58], Dave says, “I can’t believe it’s been 8 years from the day I walked into the door.” I sifted through my video and found a shot of the weather anchor walking into frame.  Kind of like walking into a door.

It’s close.  I’m trying.  If you work just a bit harder, it’s these little things that will make your pieces better.

At the time of the edit of this story, Ernie was pursuing a career as a veterinary technician.  I used as many stories as I could find, which had animals and Ernie in them.

As you continue to watch, the story notices my use of natural sound spliced among the soundbites from anchors and reporters.

Also, notice the effort I made to find a relevant video.  At [1:39], a morning anchor says, “He’s been a Denver favorite for the past 75 years.”  I found this shot of Ernie with a mauve jacket.

That certainly looks like something Ron Burgundy would wear.

The final Goodbye is this story is from his co-anchor.  At [3:39], she speaks about looking up to Ernie.  I found this great shot of Ernie looking confident.

Just trying to do my best in this story.

At [3:55], I decided to add this part with her co-anchor and weatherman.  They are wondering if he’s gone yet.  Here is the final shot in the piece.

Can you have a better closing shot than this?

This was the best goodbye talent piece I ever did.  Why?   I applied the logic of editing I would use daily.  I thought all those moments splitting up all the talent soundbites really made this stand out from other goodbye talent pieces I’ve seen.

Thank you for continuing to read The Edit Foundry.

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