Learn How To Make An Edit That Won’t Put Your Friends To Sleep
THE ART OF MAKING AN EDIT
Seattle, WA: Recently, evo held its first class on “The Art of Making an Edit” at our gallery in the store. Those who were able to make it had the chance to listen in as guest speakers Chris King of Travels Through Images and Paul Heran, the Digital Media Manager of Woodward Tahoe, broke down the steps to making a a great edit.
Scroll down and check out some of the basic things a person should think about when making an edit, and you can listen in on some sound clips of Paul and Chris as they talked through these sections.
Below you will find the slides from the presentation and key information to some of the things they talked about.
A key component to any edit is having the right equipment. Naturally a camera is needed, but there are also other things that help make an edit go a long way, such as extra batteries, multiple lenses for those with a camera that allows it, tripods, sliders, safe storage (padded bags or backpacks) and special items that are unique to different environments. If you are going to be shooting in situations like water, snow, dirt or urban environments that will require different items; plan ahead and be prepared!
To make a good edit, it is always helpful to have an idea of how you want your edit to go. For some, writing it down is important, while others seem to find it easy to just plan it out in their head. Either way, planning out the shots and having an idea of how the edit should flow is always a good idea. It is also helpful in planning ahead to get an idea of what kind of music you want to edit to, what the rider’s style is like and how the environment interacts with it all. Plan it out and think ahead; it’s not easy to go back out and try to re-shoot something you missed because you didn’t think it through!
More the merrier, but having one camera is all that is needed to make a quality edit! Get to know your camera, whether it’s a POV camera (GoPro & Contour), a DSLR, or your mom’s Handycam from 1998. The better you understand your camera and what all the functions do, the better chance your edit is going be what you wanted it to be! Don’t be discouraged because your camera isn’t the new hyped-up beast that shoots at a billion frames per second and has functions for everything from making you food to tele-porting cats into your shots. If you know how your camera works and how to best utilize its functions, then there is no stopping you from making an awesome edit!
This only pertains to those with cameras that allow interchangeable lenses. Lenses are an extremely important and essential piece to diversifying your edit. Many videographers and photographers will argue that having lenses is more important than upgrading your camera body. So if you’re in the market for a new camera body, but have one that works perfectly fine, maybe rethink what you want and spend that money on some nice glass (what cool people say when talking lenses). Having lenses that can zoom in and out are essential when trying to pack the most in your punch, but when really trying to get a good focus or deeper depth of field, check out prime lenses – they have a fixed focal length (can’t zoom), but man do they create a crisp image!
Tripods, don’t have one? Get one! They are so essential for creating clean and professional images; if you’re in the market for a tripod, some key things to think about for filming are if the tripod has a fluid head, its weight, and how high/low it can get. The fluid head helps create smoother movement when swiveling the camera, the weight is personal preference, but if you know you’re going to be riding with a backpack on while skiing the back country, your’re not going to want an extra 10 pound weight on your back, and the high/low ability just allows for more variance in your camera’s position when getting the shot. Other things to consider are sliders, glide or steady cams, and poles (or other mount systems) for POV shots. Extra batteries, lens caps, and audio equipment are also good extras to have, and something that is very important is a safe and reliable backpack or storage for all that awesome gear that you’ve collected.
Creating a list of shots is important. Like we said above, sometimes there are things you don’t think about until you’re out in the field making the magic happen, but it can only help if you at least have some key shots thought out beforehand.
For how obvious this may seem, trying to find the shot that stands out from the others can be very hard sometimes. Get dirty with it and look for those spots that will make that shot worthy of being displayed on the big screen. People want to get stoked off your video; give them a reason to share it with others and spread the hype!
There are unspoken standards that define what a good edit is or isn’t; don’t be afraid to think out of the box and venture away from whatever those “standards” are. Find a style you like and build off of it. The more you dig into your own style the more you will find can come from it. It doesn’t happen overnight, well it could, but it’s likely to be something you will always be improving on as you move along with it. Creativity has no end!
Who is the edit for or who will be the audience?
Again with planning, think about who is going to be the common viewer of the edit. Is the edit going to be for someone specific such as a company? Or is it for your friends? Or could it be that you’re making a video for cats to learn English? Know your audience and make sure that the information displayed and the song or audio is relevant to the viewer.
What are you trying to communicate?
Be clear with what you want people to get out of the video. It’s one thing to be “avant-guarde” and push the boundaries with your video, it’s another to be completely baffling. Make sure your video descriptions and titles are clear (to what is necessary to the viewer) and that whatever you’re trying to communicate to your audience is in some way or another understood or expected.
What are the restrictions?
Know your restrictions both with the viewer and with your equipment. Make sure you have a clear understanding with any of the restrictions or “must haves” when filming for a company or specific group; they may want certain things in the video and other things to be left out.
SHOT LIST BREAKDOWN:
This is the heart and soul of most edits, so make sure you know how you want them to be shown and build these suckers up. If the double cork 5000 is a big deal, then make it a big deal, building it up with simple but effective shots can help a lot with the production quality, where as one quick snap of the trick may just leave the viewer less awe-inspired than you hoped. Plan the shots out!
These are the buildup shots: close-ups of the snowboard popping off the lip, shallow depth of field shots of the skier blasting into the in-run, and shots of the landing or the exit of the trick or stunt. Bring character to the edit with your imagination; you decide what is important and how you want the viewer to see what awesome things you get to be a part of!
If the action shots are the “meat” of the edit and the cut shots are the amenities (the sauces), then the lifestyle shots are the lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, red onion and pepper-jack cheese of your edit (that’s a pretty good sandwich if I say so). Like a sandwich, an edit can be pretty plain and boring without lifestyle shots. You want people to be stoked on what you’re doing, heck you want them to want to be doing what you’re doing! Show them the grit and grime of you and your crew, show the funny times and the important times that are relevant to your video; be tasteful though, because not everyone sees what you think as funny in the same light. Same goes for the emotional and important moments; you want people to understand your position in the moment but don’t overdo it. It’s like a sandwich with too much of that one amenity you don’t like; you are over it after the first bite.
SETTING UP (Camera):
Resolution & FPS
Know the resolution and FPS (frames per second aka frame rate) options of your camera and which setting to use or not use depending on how you want it to look. If you want to create slow motion shots, then you are going to want a higher frame rate to create a smoother look to the video. If you want HD, you are going to have to set your camera up for 720 or 1080, but be aware as these settings may limit other options on your camera such as FPS.
Getting to know your camera and the editing software you are using will help you be more accurate and versatile with color profiles. Not all cameras or editing platforms allow for complete control of this option, but it is something to understand when getting more intensive with your edits. Pick a style and color and stick with it through the edit – changing the color up can give off a less clean and cohesive edit.
This is something that is important to understand but can depend on what is important to you, the editor. Trying to balance a shot with details in both the low light and highlights is not always easy to do, so understanding what is most important in the shot will help you decide how you want to expose the shot. To get better lighting it is usually suggested to not shoot mid-day but at times when the sun is less bright and the extremes between the low and highlights are not as far apart.
This is a critical decision that is up to you; picking the right lens isn’t always an easy thing to do. Think forward and picture in your head how you want it to go, how deep do you want the depth of field? Is it a wide shot or a close up? Make sure that whatever you do, you’re getting the most out of it, that you are telling the story of the rider and the environment in the best way possible.
This goes along with the lens you have picked out – you are trying to describe in the best way possible of what is about to go down. If your buddy is going to send it off the mega booter in the backcountry and there just happens to be some super epic peaks in the background and a flock of bald eagles flying by, you’re going to want to capture that all with an angle that complements both the epicness of the scenery and the awesomeness of the rider throwing that super laid out air-butter-double-front-flip. Think ahead and plan it out; you don’t want to miss the eagles flying by!
This can take a bit of luck, communication with the rider, and practice. You want to focus on the most crucial part of the trick or stunt, making sure you know where that is by talking with the rider on where they are going to be and where they will land. It may take more than one try sometimes. The goal is to always get it the first time, but don’t be discouraged to tell the rider that they need to do it again. If you’re on the same page with them, then they will understand.
Know the lighting, and know how to adjust for it. If you can, don’t leave your camera on AWB (auto white balance), as it may change mid-way through filming and your colors will be different. Like a color profile you want to pick out your white balance and stick with it throughout your shots; you want to be as cohesive and clean through out your edit. Also be aware of the changing light of the environment you’re in; this can be an important factor in picking your white balance and color profile and trying to keep a consistent look and style to your edit.
The audio recording on most cameras isn’t very good… If you have the ability or option of using external mic equipment, do it. It can really change the quality and fullness of an edit.
MAKING THE SHOT:
The rule of thirds! This is a very important fundamental of both photo and video work. If your camera has a grid option turn it on, it will help you with framing the shot and create interesting and diverse angles breaking up the video into spaces for the eye to move about.
Utilize movements of the camera to break up the stagnant shots. Movements such as pans, tilts, follow cam’ing, using sliders, and zooming in and out will help you. Get creative, just don’t abuse these options as they can become redundant and dizzying for the viewer.
It always helps the viewer to understand the story more if there is more than one view. Sometimes this can be done by having more then one camera record at the same time and sometimes it requires you to do multiple takes of the same trick or stunt but this means you need to get the rider to do the same thing on the same stunt and that isn’t always the easiest thing to do. So plan ahead and think of ways you can do this without forcing the rider to become annoyed with you…
If you have the ability to bring in lights for a shoot, do it. If all you have is the sun and moon or your friend’s trucks head lights, then don’t worry, those can do what you need, you just gotta get creative. Some things to think about with natural or artificial lighting is the direction the light is shining, where are the hot spots (over-exposing), and the temperature of the lights as some lights will be different colors and this can make or break a shot.
Life Style Shots (Life’ys)
Scroll back up to the section labeled “Shot List Breakdown” to get a better idea of what lifestyle shots are.
Show the scenery around you, what’s unique to the area? What makes this place rad? Do some wide shots, some zoomed shots; you’re trying to describe this place with your video so show people what it’s all about!
Not for everyone, but once you’re ready to jump in with doing time lapses, then get on it ’cause these are awesome! If you are capturing the stars, think of where the ground and the sky meet. If you’re shooting the streets, think of how the cars interact with the landscape and be conscious of how the lights and the land work together and how that exposure is going to come together. To do time lapses, it is recommended to get an intervalometer for your camera (DSLRs) as you’re not going to actually want to film it but rather take a sequence of photos and put them together in post-production (Quicktime Pro is a great way to put them together!).
Use the rule of thirds, give depth to the setting and think about how you can cut away from the person talking and overlap it with images of what they are discussing. Plan it out!
Here is another way of doing something creative. It is also helpful to use a intervalometer with this if you can, but your creativity with it is not limited to the equipment.
This can depend on how you like to pull your data from your cards, but utilizing certain software such as Adobe Bridge, Lightroom, or Final Cut’s Log and Capture are efficient ways to do this. You want make sure that if you’re copying all your data over, that you are organized about it and have a file system set up that makes it easy to find this stuff later, and make sure it’s backed up; you just spent all that time filming, and to lose all the footage now would be a rough way to end your day. After you know the footage is copied over to your computer or hard drives, you can clear that card so you can go back out and film some more on it!
Again using programs such as Bridge or Log and Capture will make importing much easier and more streamlined, giving you the ability to batch label and number your files.
Be organized and you will thank yourself later for it – keep an organized file set-up. Make sure you’re labeling things clearly and use “_” (an underscore) rather than the space bar if you want to be able to search for items later and not have everything else that is somewhat similarly labeled to pop up too.
Break your filing up with raw shots in one file, projects in another and finals in another one. It is all personal preference, but being organized, especially if you plan to go professional with it, is necessary if you are going to be timely and efficient.
Timeline Set Up
Plopping footage into the timeline when on your editing program can be as easy as that. Some programs require that you change your sequence settings but most will do that for you. Make sure that with whatever software you are using, you know what is required from you when placing your footage into the timeline to be cut and edited.
Be critical, be effective and use clips that are going to round the edit out as a whole.
Make sure that song that you have been so stoked on for the past 5 months is relevant to the edit if that is the song you want to use. Think about the rider and their style, the location, the mood of the scene(s), how you want the viewer to feel and authenticity of the song and how those all go together; if it doesn’t feel right, then change the song out. It helps to think about songs that would work while filming, imagine the shot your about to get and how it has a flow to it. Think of a song that emulates that same feeling of flow and you may have just found yourself the jam for the edit!
If you’re doing work for any company or larger affiliation then make sure you either have the rights and permissions from the labeling companies to use the song or jump on to websites such as freemusicarchive.org that give songs with creative commons licenses that are available for free download. (Always double check if it’s a creative commons license that allows you to do what you want to do with it, some have limitations!)
Time and Flow
Trimming the different shots to transition when a drum hits or when a vocal changes are easy ways to give the edit better flow and cohesiveness with both the song and the story-line. Always start the camera a few seconds before and let it go a few seconds after to give you that room when in the editing process – it allows you more room to adjust your transitions and timing with the action going on in the shot.
This is in many cases a personal decision but it must be effective in letting the viewer know who you are, who the rider is, and any other information you want the audience to know. It seems that for many edits being simpler and minimal in taste is more effective and pleasant to the viewer, but if you think the audience wants more then give it to them!
Lapses and Stop Motion
After you have edited the photos to how you want them to look, use a program such as QuickTime Pro to put them together and then you can place them into your timeline in your edit.
Speeding up or slowing down your footage can change the feeling and intensity of your shot. If you plan to have some slow motion shots, then make sure you’ve planned ahead and shot at a higher FPS to give a smoother and cleaner effect.
There are many other effects that can be done in the post process; be thoughtful and creative and use them wisely as many times too many effects can become distracting or dirty. A good use of simple effects is usually around the title sequences, so think of how you want the riders name to jump into the screen and fall back out.
In many cases, less is more. Utilizing the song to help ease transitions from frame to frame is a great way to make this happen.
Another way to bring flow to the edit is to make sure your edit is consistent with its colors all the way through. Using things such as the three-way color corrector, exposures, and white balance are great ways in the post process to bring the clips together.
And for those who want to give it a shot, we have a little bit of homework/a contest for you:
Thanks to all who came out to help make our first “How to Make an Edit ” class a success!
And here is the whole playlist of audio clips from the presentation in order: