A simple editing tip…

A while back I mentioned that you really don’t know what you know until you start teaching. My world has been full of pkgs, bites, wraps, drive-bys, and other terms for so long I just figured everyone knew them. So sometimes the simplest things go over with the biggest bang.

Simple tip #1 – cutaways.
Usually this dastardly terms calls up visions of a reporter nodding sagely and listening to an interview subject. Fortunately that’s just the tip. Here’s a couple of cases:
You’re shooting a (very very) long speech and need to use segments which are separated in time and space by numbing minutes of rambling.
Same with an interview…you’re interviewing a wonderful local man about his life as a volunteer and he takes off on a tangant and you suddenly have ten minutes of remeniscenses about his cat.
Ouch.
Well, you know enough to pull the best sound – what is pertinent and to the point of your story. So go ahead and create those clips – and butt them together.
Now you have several choices. You can leave what is commonly called a “jump cut,” which will show a slight visual jump as you go from one clip to the next. You can toss in a fade in/fade out or flash in/out or even a dissolve. They’re all pretty honest ways of of letting the audience know that you’ve cut down the material.
Or…you can insert a cutaway. In order to do this, you need something to cut away to – so if you’re shooting a speech, get some very wide shots from the rear of the room of the audience. Now, keeping in mind which direction your speaker is looking in your shots (is she looking left or right), get shots of audience listening looking in the opposite direction. What you’re actually doing is drawing an imaginary line (axis) down the middle of your subject and the audience which you do not cross over. If you cross over this axis, suddenly you may have your speaker and listeners looking in the same direction – which defeats the idea of visual conflict or of the audience listening. This can be visually confusing for the viewer.
In the case of the interview…get some shots of what he is talking about…his volunteer works, etc.
Now for the edit, where the magic takes place. I’m gonna do this with iMovie…if you have questions, give me a shout and I’ll see if I can help w/your specific program. As you watch you sound you want a good five to ten seconds to be able to establish who is talking and to put in the identifying title (if you want one). When you hit the point you want to cut away to other material, make an edit/split the clip. Highlight the clip you want to cover with video. Go to Advanced>Extract Audio. This will separate the audio in that clip from the video. Once the audio is extracted, highlight the video and delete it. Now drop in a clip or series of clips – you want the entire replacement to be exactly (within a few frames) of the original. You’ll need to either mute sound on those clips or lower it so you can clearly hear the original interview.

Ta dah! You’re done.
The original purpose of the cutaway is to have visual continuity and probably dates back to Hollywood movie style shooting, where if someone was talking there needed to be a listener…this kinda slid over into news and became a common practice. If you want complete honesty – don’t use cutaways. But if you want your story to flow and you want to be able to communicate on several levels, it can be a powerful tool. You can have your interview talking with natsound and video in the background, adding detail and information that straight talk alone won’t do.

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