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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.
While you won't broadcast this documentary in a specific timeslot, you still need to review whether it's hitting its own target length and whether the story pacing reflects the creative brief. Do you want people to feel a gentle ooh and ah as they watch, or do you want to cram in as much information as possible in the shortest amount of time? Based on the music selection in the -B-roll video, I'd say the director intended the tone of this piece to be in the ah category. In the next several movies, you'll make editing decisions that fine tune the Farm To Table piece toward that direction.
The first step in determining the pace of the piece is to first figure out where you are time-wise. So if you look at the duration at the bottom of the interface, we're at 02:50, and we have a little time to play with. In this project, we've already included a gap that's 7 seconds. That's going to represent the open when we add that in the later movie. We've also expanded the music where we go into the market, and that's about at 10 seconds. So we've allowed for two big chunks, and even with that we still have a little bit of time to play with.
Now, what that says is that it's okay to open up and add little breaths and pauses where you feel it would make the narrative sound more authentic. Now, notice that this project has some markers, so let's go ahead and open the Timeline Index so we can use those as a reference. We're not going to do the open yet, so let's go to the first marker that says add beat, and let's zoom in to that area, and let's play into it. (BD Dautch: ...schools, restaurants. The Santa Barbara area has been--) I'm going to give it a little bit more of a run up, because it sounds like BD is changing topics a little bit. Let's see if that's what's happening.
(BD Dautch: ...and we sell mostly at the farmers market, and also we sell to caterers, schools, restaurants. The Santa Barbara area has been fortunate enough to have a slow growth--) So, in fact, that is really what is happening. There is a change of topic. When you have a change of topic, it's a good idea to create a little pause so that the audience can get set and follow along. So what we want to do is build a pause in. And the way we're going to do that is we're going to Edit > Insert Generator > a Gap, into this section.
Now, a Gap by default is 3 seconds long. We don't want 3 seconds, so we can simply trim it, as we would trim in the other clip. Now, notice how we're getting sort of caught, or we're snapping, and if you go all the way close, it actually closes that Gap. So by pressing Option+W, you can add it again. So what I wanted to show you that is if you don't want to snap to anything, like a playhead, then you can turn snapping off, and that will give you more room and more flexibility. So we don't need a lot of frames, I mean, maybe just 10 or so frames to give it a little pause.
So let's just focus not on the video now, but just on the sound. You can always close your eyes to see if this pause helps. (BD Dautch: ...we sell to caterers, schools, restaurants. The Santa Barbara area--) That helps quite a bit, actually. We could probably even open it up a little bit more if we wanted to. Now, by doing that, because the B-roll is connected vertically to the primary storyline, the following clips were pushed down by the duration of this gap. So you have to go in and change that by deciding which clip you want to extend and then just grabbing the edge and extending it so that it closes that gap.
So basically, there are several beats that could be expanded. (BD Dautch: ...to bring their produce. And that allows a high quality--) And we can continue doing the same thing. You click on the Edit point, Option+W adds the Gap, trim the gap some number of frames, probably less than half a second, and then make the adjustment with the video. And we're going to take care of trimming these B-roll clips in another movie, so for right now you can just go ahead and close up the Gap.
Now, there's a section with the music where we have put in a 10-second Gap for the music. Let's go ahead and add the music now. We put our music collection in the Miscellaneous folder. Let's listen to the beginning of Delayed Goodbye. (music playing) This is definitely ah music, so this is going to work perfectly to introduce the farmers market section.
Now, as you've seen before, if you select the beginning and the end of a particular section of the Timeline, that defines the duration. And then to edit into that duration, all we have to do is select the clip. In this case, we want the beginning, so we want to just connect the audio to this particular Gap. So we have the music in place. And there are lots of B-roll footage, like the radishes and other things, that we can edit at this point to establish the produce of the farmers market.
So, now let's take a look at the duration. Well, we've added a couple of Gaps, and I just added a second. So you see that you have plenty of room to continue adding Gaps, especially at the end, when BD starts to talk about really important things and how we feels and sums up, it's great opportunity to add a little space. Let's look at that section. (BD Dautch: I feel like I'm the luckiest person in the world. It incorporates everything that I look for in life.) So each one of these statements could have a little pause in between.
So there's lots of work to do in the pacing of this. I want to show you a finished version of this particular timeline. And I'm going to go ahead and close the index. Now, this particular version has the music. It also has some B-roll that goes with the music. So let's take a look at that section. (music playing) (BD Dautch: This is the era of California cuisine.) So obviously, we want to continue the music underneath to make it smoother, but we'll do that in another movie.
You don't have to be a professional musician to have a feel for timing. That's a skill that editors use all the time, so don't be shy. Take a breath, give a breath, do whatever you have to do within the project timeframe to make the audio narrative sound real and authentic, even though you may have edited together a single sentence from three different paragraphs.
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