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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.
Ever sit around a campfire listening to someone tell a story? The storyteller's words paint clearly defined images. They don't ramble or get off track. If they did, you'd probably lose interest or get confused. Well, before you begin adding B-roll visuals to the story, you need to make sure the audio narrative is clear and concise. No need adding a cutaway if you're going to end up cutting that portion of the story anyway. So with the clips in order, let's take another pass at the rough cut to clarify the story.
In the Timeline, we have the project that includes BD's clips with a spacer indicating that this was the beginning portion. Then we have the middle portion, which includes Going to Market and talking about the Farmers Market and the Chefs that he works with, and then the wrap-up where we hear other people at the market talk and some final words from BD. Well, let's take a look at the first few clips, and what we're listening for are places that might be distracting with ums, ahs, long spaces. We want to sound as though this is very clear when we close our eyes and listen, as though we're listening to a story on the radio.
(BD Dautch: ...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. The Santa Barbara area--) That's a lot of information and he said it very well, so I wouldn't change those first two clips. Let's take a look at this third clip. I see some dips in the waveform. And the waveform now is your friend.
You really want to look more closely at that, and there are a couple things you can do to help emphasize that as a resource. One is to zoom in. So I'm going to press Command+Plus to zoom in to the single clip. And now we see even more so where those sort of valleys are, where it doesn't sound like any talking is going on, so we're going to want to key into those areas. Another thing you can do is go into our Clip Appearance window and choose one of the selections that minimizes the video thumbnail and maximizes the audio waveform.
So let's go ahead and do that. And now, let's listen to this clip, and I'll stop when I feel that there's a place that could be tightened. (BD Dautch: The Santa Barbara area has been fortunate enough to have, uh, a slow growth--) Okay, he sort of stopped and said uh, and we don't need that. That doesn't add to our story. (BD Dautch: ...to have, uh, a slow--) Let's zoom in to that area. And again, the more you zoom in, the clearer you see what's going on in the waveform. Let's listen to that part again. (BD Dautch: ...fortunate enough to have, uh, a--) So this is the uh that we want to remove. Now, there are a couple of ways to do it.
One of the easy ways is simply to mark an In point by clicking the letter I, and that begins a range selection. Then move your pointer to where you want to end it, again in this valley and mark an O, an Out point. So we have a selection start point and a selection end point, which if we listen to identifies the uh. Now, all you have to do is press Delete. What that does is it does create an edit point, which means that we have a little jump in video which we're going to have to cover with another visual, which is--of course--a cutaway.
And let's listen to how this sounds. Don't focus on how it looks. Focus on how it sounds. (BD Dautch: ...has been fortunate enough to have a slow growth state of mind so that there are a lot of farms right--) Very nice. So taking that uh out, really, really helped. I see another valley coming up. Let's hear what happens there. (BD Dautch: ...there are a lot of farms right up to the urban fringe. So at the farmers market--) So let's try to get rid of at least some of that space. And another thing we can do--another way to do it is to use the Range tool.
You can click on the tools pop up and choose Range Selection or just press the letter R and simply drag over the space that you want to select and then press Delete. Let's see if this helped. (BD Dautch: ...right up to the urban fringe. So at the farmers market--) Now, that particular edit was a little too tight. So what we can do is simply go back to our Selection tool, the letter A, click on the In point, which is what got chopped off a little bit, and use what I like to refer to as our Nudge Tools, that would be the comma and the period, and every time I'm going to press the Comma key which opens up our adds on one more frame to that selected edit point.
(BD Dautch: ...right up to the urban fringe. So at the farmers market--) And you can play with that. If you want to tighten it, press the period key. As long as the edit point is selected, it will trim one frame either way. So another section. (BD Dautch: ...to bring their produce, and that--) So that's another section that you could select and just simply tighten. (BD Dautch: ...to bring their produce, and that--) And you see the point. You can keep going. Another clip I'd like to key into is the one of John Downey.
And this is really interesting, because he is someone who has a relationship with BD and talks about it, but sometimes as people do on camera, they repeat themselves. So when you hear opportunities, you have to decide, do I want to use this person on camera and allow those repetitions or uhs and ums, or do I want to delete those, tighten, and clarify the story and cover them with B-roll visuals? (John Downey: ...and uh, you know, it gives me something to--) So the and uh, don't really need that, delete that.
(John Downey: You know, it gives me something to think about too. You know, I mean, I like to--I like to--) So he has a few I like, I likes. And I am a fan of just diving in, selecting it, and seeing what you've got, because it's easy to trim if you need to add a frame back here or there. So I encourage you to spend a little time going in and honing the John Downey clip, knowing that you're going to be covering him with some other visuals. As you can see, we could spend all day making these narrative adjustments. And why not? This is when you clarify and tighten your story.
You wouldn't dream of sharing a story around a campfire if you hadn't honed it first. So kick back and hone away.
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