By Michael Gold, Head of Production
June 24th 2020
It’s all in the edit
Trying to see the wood for the trees when you’re editing moving content is not easy. Key to making a piece engaging, eye-catching and memorable is how you arrange, mould and rework your material into a final masterpiece. Creating a good narrative arc can be like working on a jigsaw puzzle – it doesn’t just pop out of the box or edit suite. It can take time, consideration and often experience to sculpt a film into its best form.
So, if you’re in that place of sitting in front of a pile of footage and don’t know where to start, here’s our top 7 tips to help whip it into shape:
1. Start before you sit
Preparation. Preparation. Preparation. If you’re in the position to control the content gathering, know what messages you want to get across and in what order, before you switch on the camera. If you have interview contributors, prepare the right questions and listen and adapt your questions until you get the responses you’re looking for. You will thank yourself in the edit suite.
However, sometimes the material is handed to you, so…
2. Stay on target
Understand the key message or messages that you’re trying to convey. Don’t over complicate your story. Keep things simple. Sense check yourself – am I keeping to the core message(s)? Audiences can’t take in a lot of information. Don’t overload them or bombard them.
Think about starting with a punch. Find your best point/quote and hit them with it first. Something that sets the tone for your piece. Something that is dynamic or intriguing. As a rule, we are formulaic creatures. We like a beginning, middle and an end to make sense of something. But playing around with structure a little and hitting the audience between the eyes can make the film memorable.
4. Be the audience
Put your head in the mind of the audience. Do I need to hear this message? Does it grab my attention? Is it memorable? If the answer is no… ditch it. As a listener you tend to know a good soundbite when you hear one – so that same theory applies when you’re editing.
5. Let it go!
Don’t get precious about your content. Sometimes it’s easy to get fixated over a preconceived structure or hanging on to a section of content because you think it’s important. Try to stay objective, keep moving parts around and keep experimenting. It will always turn out better if you play around with your material.
6. Together, we are better
Collaborate. Part of the success of the films I’ve created, has been down to seeking out the skills of others, getting feedback or asking for a second opinion. Working together, in at least a team of two, helps objectivity and perspective and allows you to make executive editorial decisions faster.
7. Keep it brief
Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. These days, if you can’t say it in less than 90 seconds online, it won’t get watched. Challenge yourself to create a 1 minute, 30 second or even 10 sec version of your film. You’ll probably be surprised, as often it’s better than the original! You can then use it as a social teaser.
We can all get absorbed in a good story and lost in bad one. Ultimately, stay focussed on your core message, keep it simple and keep it brief. Power your story with good editorial!