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Basic pacing/editing questions

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kat hayes
Basic pacing/editing questions
on Jun 23, 2012 at 1:44:28 am

I understand the technical of editing, though I do not have much background in the art of editing. I have about an hour of video from a scuba dive that I want to edit down to maybe 5 minutes. There are lots of animals that I want to show during the video along with me and other divers.

1. would you recommend an even pacing throughout the video -- each clip the exact same length of time?
2. would it be best to use a simple fade-in-fade -out between clips, or should I just cut from one clip to the next?

Thanks.



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Scott Sheriff
Re: Basic pacing/editing questions
on Jun 23, 2012 at 3:14:34 am

[kat hayes] "1. would you recommend an even pacing throughout the video -- each clip the exact same length of time?"

No. This would get old, fast. Same goes for identical, repetitive dissolve rates.

[kat hayes] "2. would it be best to use a simple fade-in-fade -out between clips, or should I just cut from one clip to the next?"

The best transition ever invented was the cut. The second best is the common dissolve. A well placed cut is usually invisible, and almost always going to be a winner. No other transition can be repeated over and over without becoming an annoying cliche'.

Without getting into 'Zen, and the Art of Going to the Lavatory', IMO, as an editor it is really up to you to choose a properly motivated transition based on the material, and the mood of the piece.

I would recommend not trying to cut it to the final length in one shot.
Maybe cut the 60 minutes into the best 30. Then cut that into the best 10, then the final cut.
Use all cuts to do this, and only opt for other transitions after all the cutting is done. And then only if there is a reason to use something other than a cut.
Good luck.

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair

Where were you on 6/21?


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kat hayes
Re: Basic pacing/editing questions
on Jun 23, 2012 at 5:26:34 am

Hi Scott,

1. Is there some guideline for going from shorter/faster clips to longer/slower ones? Is this just up to the discretion of the editor? I guess I'm just looking to see if there are underlying guidelines for determining pacing or not.

2. Should I approach this project so it has a beginning/middle/end, and if so, does this influence how pacing should be?

Thanks.



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Scott Sheriff
Re: Basic pacing/editing questions
on Jun 23, 2012 at 8:12:21 am

Not to sound like some smug, beret wearing 'artist', but the whole pacing, shot length thing is really what the art of editing is about. It's complex, deep, influenced by trends and somewhat subjective. Not really the type of thing you can sum up in a couple of posts, so my answers might seem a bit vague.
There are 'styles' used by big name editors, and it's good to know about them, and their work. And sure there are some basic rules and concepts. But people follow the rules all day long and turn out crap. And at the same time others break rules left and right, and turn out award winning work. Every situation is somewhat unique, so you have to adapt. Unless there is a scripted requirement, or some broadcast constraint that has to be followed, just use your instinct to tell you when a shot is up to long, not long enough, etc. Develop a style. Use that same instinct to decide when you should/or shouldn't follow any particular rule. Part of why I suggest cutting your footage down in stages. As you progress thru the stages, don't be afraid of making changes to elements that bother you in previous versions. As you get closer to the final cut, start becoming more selective of your changes, and avoid the trap of 'never being done'.


[kat hayes] "
1. Is there some guideline for going from shorter/faster clips to longer/slower ones? Is this just up to the discretion of the editor? I guess I'm just looking to see if there are underlying guidelines for determining pacing or not."


I'm assuming there isn't a VO, or other scripted elements that would drive the pacing, so what about music? A well chosen music bed will provide cues for editing. Also the content and action of the shots, will partially determine pacing. If your telling a story, where you are in the story will often determine the pacing. Music often works the same way.
Another factor would be the type of story. A drama has a much different pacing, than a comedy.

[kat hayes] "
2. Should I approach this project so it has a beginning/middle/end, and if so, does this influence how pacing should be?"


Most likely, yes. Unless it is some type of abstract, or maybe a demo reel or something of that nature.
Your 5 minute piece is essentially a mini movie, or short story, so the pacing should be variable depending on where you're at in the story. And when you're deciding on what gets cut, you just have to keep asking yourself questions like, "do I need this shot", or "is this shot advancing my story".
If the footage is something you shot, you must also learn (it's hard) to detach yourself from shots you really love as a cinematographer. Resist keeping shots that don't help the story, or the pressure of keeping something because it was a lot of work to shoot. Use the same discretion on not only the yes/no decision, but the length of shots you decide to keep. If the footage isn't yours, it's often a tad easier to remain objective when making selects.

Hopefully some other editors will chime in on this, since everyone approaches this from a slightly different perspective.

Scott Sheriff
Director
http://www.sstdigitalmedia.com


"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur." ---Red Adair

Where were you on 6/21?


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Bill Davis
Re: Basic pacing/editing questions
on Jun 25, 2012 at 5:56:40 am

I agree 150% with everything Scott and Andrew have said and you'd do well to read each of those responses carefully and work towards integrating their advice into your learning.

That said, at one very basic beginning level, editing is simply removing EVERYTHING that doesn't move the audiences understanding of the material forward.

With too much footage, like you have, the key is to find the best story (or maybe a couple that re-enforce the overall point) and tell them as well as possible - leaving everything else to illustrate or support those ideas.

So one very rudimentary way to approach footage is just to RANK each chunk - whatever the content - based on how it holds your attention.

Literally Tag it - wither in your NLE or on a piece of paper - as A, B, C, etc.

Try to start out giving nothing above a C - so that you have room to move something great that you didn't see early - up to the top of the list.

The point is to rank what you have so that you start to identify what's great, good, and just OK. With the limited time you have - you simply can't tell more than a couple of stories - so you need to concentrate on the best ones you have.

Plus, after the exercise you start to see what's most compelling out of the 45 minutes. And can focus on not wasting your time trying to build great content out of too much of your "not great" content.

This isn't the perfect, only, or even the best approach - just an exercise that can at least help you start to see which idea threads have potential to become central theme stories that might hold the end piece together.

As you get better, you'll discover that the stories hidden in large collections of material tend to reveal themselves with more familiarity. So even if you end up not perfectly ranking anything - or you feel your initial ranking system is a mess, at the very lest it forces you to look at EVERYTHING you have as raw material with a critical eye - and that alone is the first stage to being able to understand what to cut out.

Hope that helps.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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David Roth Weiss
Re: Basic pacing/editing questionsr r
on Aug 13, 2012 at 1:52:28 am

Kat,

Editing is a great deal more than editing pretty pictures. In fact, editing non-fiction is, more often than not, word-driven. That is, the pace and rhythm of the images is typically driven by their interplay with narration and interviews, which tend to dictate the flow and rhythm of the editing.

So, instead of sitting down to start editing the picture, you'll be much better off first sitting down at your computer with a word processor and formulating a set of very meaningful questions you can ask of all the interesting people you can gain access to, and who will add meaning to your project. Then interview those people,asking them the same set of questions. And, have someone interviiew you as well, asking you those questions. Maybe you'll put yourself in, maybe not, but this will give you the option, and you won't know if you work in the project until you hear yourself.

Next, transcribe and edit the interviews into a so-called "Radio Cut," i.e. a powerful word-driven story that delivers the very essence of the story you're trying to tell.

Now you're ready to cut in those pretty pix... You'll suddenly find that all those images will have a reason for being, and the cuts you make will be motivated, and the pace and rhythm, rather than being dictated by any rules or cliches, will be organic and natural.

Later, you can add narration where needed (if needed) to help tie things together, to help bolster the words of your interviewees, and to develope even more meaning.

Bingo, now you'll really have something meaningful, and you'll have found and sensed the natural rhythm in the material, and that will give comfort to your audience. FYI, this is how all of those powerful documentaries on PBS, BBC, and National Geographic are created.

Hope this helps...

David


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Andrew Rendell
Re: Basic pacing/editing questions
on Jun 23, 2012 at 7:01:10 pm

Scott's done one of the nicest precis of editing that I've seen for a while there.

One thing I'd like to go into a little further is this:

Pace is not something you do to or do with your shots. Pace is inherent in the shots. A well timed cut is one which is sympathetic to the pace and rhythm of the preceding and following shots.

You have to develop your ability to read/feel the pace of each shot and feel how the pictures interact with each other and with the soundtrack.

Once you get that, you'll see how an editor can manipulate pace to get certain emotional effects, in a way that I think of as similar to a musician playing off the beat, building or defusing tension by cutting tighter or looser to the rhythm of the shot.

The danger of cutting to music is that you can let the pace of the music dominate the pace of the visuals. Music should be an additional element that modifies the pace/rhythm of the sequence, rather than swamping the visuals (unless the visuals are there to support the music as in music videos, when one would tend to choose clips where the visual pace supports or contrasts with the music, depending on the effect you're after, as necessary). Of course music can vastly alter the mood of a piece, but it's most successful when you have the visuals and the soundtrack working together. (N.B., working together could mean contrasting as well as complementing).


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Mark Suszko
Re: Basic pacing/editing questions
on Jun 25, 2012 at 2:24:19 pm

Remember, the audience doesn't know what items you never let them see. As an editor, you see all the raw pieces, and you may fall in love with one and it can break your heart to have to cut it later. You will agonize over that one cut. But the audience will never know what they missed. They can only judge by what you let thjru to be in the final cut, absent the context of the shooting or the cutting sessions. Try to see the product with their eyes.


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Benjamin Sullivan
Re: Basic pacing/editing questions
on Dec 10, 2012 at 8:35:35 pm

I don't have much to add to the experts here already, except this quote from Samuel Clemens (I think) that I mull over when I'm in the final stages of every edit. He said, "You're not done until you've cut your favorite part." Don't take that as a rule, but I've found this is true more often that it's not.


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Monica F.P.Williams
Re: Basic pacing/editing questions
on Jul 31, 2012 at 3:01:37 pm

Hi Kat,
You already have great answers from some of the best Editors.
My suggestion because of the underwater subject , Is to match the movements IN the shots with the music. It can help to give you more "Fluidity" in your edits (no pun intended) :0)
Have fun!
Monica

Monica F.P.williams
crocodile editing
https://vimeo.com/crocodileediting
web: http://www.crocodileediting.com

The "EARTH" without "ART" is just "EH"


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