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This course shows how to build a polished documentary using Apple Final Cut Pro X and a few essential editing techniques. Author Diana Weynand demonstrates documentary editing in a real-world project, breaking down the process into a series of manageable steps and milestones. After reviewing existing footage, explore how to build and define a narrative, assemble rough cuts, and create motion graphics. Then see how to adjust B-roll shots, incorporate color correction and audio mixing techniques, and export the final movie.
This course is part of a series that looks at documentary editing from the point of view of 3 different editors in 3 different editing applications. For more insight on editing documentary projects, take a look at Documentary Editing with Avid Media Composer and Documentary Editing with Premiere Pro.
A good documentary combines an informative and concise narrative with compelling visuals. There are some really good B-roll footage in this project. And now that you've tightened up the story, you get to sprinkle in some of the pretty pictures that show what the storytellers are referring to in their interviews. While you can edit B-roll a thousand different ways, let's look at some things that will help guide you along your decision making process. First of all, there are several places throughout this rough cut where you took out ums and uhs. Anytime you have those little changes, you're going to get what we call a little jump cut.
Let's go down to the John Downey section and listen to this and just sort of watch his head bop in between the different edits. (John Downey: ...that he can. You know, it gives me something to think about too. You know, I mean, I like to put on my plates something which is equally as special as he is bringing to the market.) So obviously, we're going to want to cover this section with some visuals. If you closed your eyes, that would sound perfectly fine. So cutaways are going to be great to cover the audio narrative where we've made changes and tightened it. And also, for example, we have a little area where we want a music interlude, so we'll have some cutaways that just help transition us into a new section.
Well, there are two different ways you can approach choosing cutaways. One would be by choosing the portion that you want to cover of the clip in the Timeline and the other is to choose the action from the Event browser. Now, let's take a look in our library. We've been working in the B-roll section, but this might be a good time to go to our Locations collections, because this entire first section is BD talking about his farm. So let's just focus on the Earthtrine footage for just a moment. Another question you might ask is do you want the audio that comes, the natural sound? Well, some natural sounds such as this clip is sync audio, and it might add some depth to the clip if you hear it.
So my suggestion is to go ahead and edit audio with these B-roll clips and then we can choose later if we want to use that audio or not. Let's take a look at the first BD clip, and I'm going to zoom in to it so we get a really clear idea of what's going on. And let's figure out whether or not there's something in this clip that would indicate where we want to start or stop using B-roll footage. Well, we know we want to start at the beginning, but let's see what happens next. (BD Dautch: My name is BD Dautch, and I have Earthtrine Farm, and we've got about--) Well, that little pause, I have Earthtrine Farm, would be a great place to cut to a different clip.
So let's say we want to cover this entire area with something from BD's farm. Let's take a look. There is a shot of DB walking. That might be a great way to introduce, because we're seeing him and seeing him on his farm. So what we have to do is simply indicate where we want to start this clip in the Event browser by pressing I to set an In point, because the clip in the Timeline is already identifying the length of the clip. Now, when you press the Connect button, it edits and connects the portion starting from the point that you marked into the Timeline just up to the point that you identified.
(BD Dautch: My name is BD Dautch, and I have Earthtrine Farm, and we've got about 10 acres in Ojai--) So, this leaves you the option, do you want to come back to him here? But since he jumps to another edit point, it might be good to continue to cover, so when we do go to him, we're on him for a little bit longer. Now, let's take a look at another shot. We know that John Downey later talks about how dedicated he is. What if we took a look at how he actually digs in the farm himself? This is a great shot for that.
And there are some very specific actions. What if we took a shot where he is starting to pull a weed and maybe we can choose just one weed? So this is where you might choose the portion in the Event browser that you want to use. And in that case, if that's what you choose, you just click the Connect button, and it adds it to the clip. You can also choose another portion of that clip, and let's do that. Let's just see--let's just get a portion of the marker portion where BD is sort of moving his arm from one side to another, and again, just connect.
So because this is a rough cut, you don't have to be terribly picky. You can put clips in and then refine them later. Let's see how these three clips work. (BD Dautch: My name is BD Dautch, and I have Earthtrine Farm, and we've got about 10 acres in Ojai, and we grow about 100 different herbs, vegetables, flowers--) So you're starting to be well on your way here. If we take a look at a finished version of the rough cut, this version has some B-roll shots already edited in.
This will give you an idea of what one particular approach to this could be. Let's just look at a particular section. (BD Dautch: This is the era of California cuisine, which is buying what's local and in season--) And if we look at a few shots from the beginning, you'll recognize the shots that we edited. (BD Dautch: My name is BD Dautch, and I have Earthtrine Farm, and we've got about 10 acres in Ojai, and we grow about 100 different herbs, vegetables, flowers, fruits, and we sell mostly at the farmers market, and also we sell to caterers, schools, restaurants.) We take advantage of different pauses, but these clips can be edited in any number of ways, and I encourage you to experiment and try combining methods, what the narrative story is saying, and from the B-roll itself.
Adding cutaways and colorful shots always make a documentary start to shine. And although you have a lot of flexibility about what shots to use where, keep in mind the goals of the creative brief and what's story you're telling. You don't want to hear one story with the audio narrative and see conflicting visuals at the same time.
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