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my longform workflow

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grinner hester
my longform workflow
on Dec 28, 2007 at 4:35:21 am

I am often asked how I approach longform reality shows as an editor. With no other content is there MORE content. We often shoot several hours and wind up with a good 6 minute piece and there is no way around watching every frame that was shot.
...unless ya shot it.
Aint a thang wrong with going from memory and skipping stuff you know ya don't need. Now, you'll end up needing something and spend more time going back to the tape than if ya just threw it all in the computer but drive space does'nt always allow the freedom to grab all that was shot. Grab what you think you may need and begin the shot-scrapping process upon capturing.
Now, I start with Putting every single usable shot on a timeline. I don't care that I may make a 50 minute timeline for what will be a 10 minute segment. If it's at all in the running as a keep of a shot... it stays, this pass.
Now, I am seeing the least according to what I have. It's now that I'll decide if more story needs telling and I'll mentally make way for voice over, graphics or whatever I may need to do that.
I rearrange shots as needed to follow this story line. I discard many shots that were good but not quite flowing with this developing storyline.
Now, that 50 minute timeline is probably closer to 20 and is developing it's personality. Every piece has it's personality. You can create it but it's magical when it creates itself and you get to follow it, not lead it. It'll tell you what pacing it wants, the flavor of music it needs, and the color treatments that will bring it all together. Listen close. Each piece will talk to you.
Time for some polishing. Music is now added and where there wil be montages, music is laid in to time. All dialog is now cut to time so our final piece is that 10 minutes we were after.
Sweet. My favorite pass now. Again, from the top, we go with layers of love. Effects, transitions, graphics, animations, composites, double-checking legal levels (and content), heavy sound design... I do it all on these final passes.
This is a very non-linear approach to reality-based editing. I have found it to be a more stramlined approach because this ensures a product could be sent out, should the deadline magicly be cut in half. Spend all your time on graphics and layering as ya go and you just may spend that time on a scene the ends up on the cutting room floor and that is waisted time. The final shots get the final luvin'. This way it only goes to the keepers.

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