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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.
Once you've evaluated the pace of your project, trimmed it, and replaced weaker clips, you might find there are sections that you want to move through more quickly or others where you want to slow the pace a bit. While changing the speed of a clip may not be something you do in every documentary. There is a section in this project that might benefit from that effect. Let's focus our attention at the very end of this project. I'm going to move my playhead down and zoom in to that area. This includes several clips of BD talking about and sort of summing up the importance of this experience for him.
Above it, we have images of the market, BD being happy doing what he's doing, and then a woman, it seems almost be hugging the vegetables, which is sort of a close shot. But if you notice, there's a guy walking behind and the portion where she hugs is actually very short. So it might be ideal to take that short section and maybe play it back sort of in a slow-mo way. And with the BD image, it might be nice to take his face and freeze on a frame where he's smiling or laughing and end the piece in that way.
In fact, if you want to think about ending the piece with him, go ahead and drag him to the end. You have to do a couple of changes because the connected clips do not act the same way as the magnetic timeline in the primary storyline, so you have to a little bit more manual when you move things around. So for right now, let's go ahead and select these B-roll clips, and I'm going to just say Disable them, and a shortcut for that is V, so that we can focus on the BD clips beneath. (BD Dautch: I feel like I'm the luckiest person in the world. It incorporates everything that I--) So obviously, we need a little bit of a gap there.
We've learned how to do that, just Option+W, and we're going to make it a little bit of a shorter gap. (BD Dautch: ...luckiest person in the world. It incorporates everything that I look for in life. It becomes a--) So that gives us a little bit of breathing room, and now we can turn on our visuals, just press the letter V, and focus on the timing of how this works. Let's take a look now, if we deselect the clips, look at our timing in our interface. We're almost up to 3 minutes, and we still have a black gap up here.
We're going to keep that black gap, and I'll show you why in a second. That's going to be like a little holding pad for us. So first, what I'm going to do is just drag a clip over there and let it sit there so I can focus on this next clip. Now, we know we want to see BD in the second clip. We want to see him on camera. So we need to extend the previous clip to cover that gap. And if we chose to make that gap a little shorter, we can just flex with it a little bit, however you want to do it. (BD Dautch: I feel like I'm the luckiest person in the world. It incorporates everything that I look for in life.
It becomes a celebration of life, as well as--) Okay so that works for me on camera. Now, if he's talking about a celebration of life, we want to take the best part of this clip which starts right about here, and we actually want to use it but in slow-mo. Now, as I start to drag, I get stuck. I snapped to the playhead, and that's a problem. But if I press the letter N, that will turn snapping off on the fly, and it will allow me to drag through that point so I get the edit point I want. I'm going to do the same thing at the end because this is not the frame at the end that I want to use.
I just want that portion where she's sort of hugging the vegetables. And, as you can see, it's not a long clip. We're going to reposition it over this third clip, and notice I can't really snap to the other point. Why? Because snapping is off. I just turned it off to have more control. Now I'm going to press N to get that control back, and when I turn it off and on it appears as blue when it's active up here in the timeline. So let's take a look at this. (BD Dautch: ...in life. It becomes a celebration--) Well, clearly we need this clip to continue, and one way we can do that is to change the timing of the clip.
So we select the clip, and we go to our Timing menu and choose Slow, and let's start by making it play 50% slower. (BD Dautch: It becomes a celebration of life.) So if we wanted to, we could drag that out and the 50% stays. (BD Dautch: It becomes a celebration of life.) And maybe if there's any more, we may be taking it up to life, and let's go ahead and drag BD shot back in and look at it. (BD Dautch: It becomes a celebration of life, as well as a culinary celebration.) And rather than just end, let's go ahead and freeze frame.
Find a nice frame that we want to freeze on where BD is actually laughing, and maybe we bring the music up right at the end there, but let's see if we got a good frame. We don't want him looking over to his side. It will be nice to look at the person he's talking to, because this is what gives him such joy. So we put our playhead where we want to freeze, and we select the clip, go to our Retime menu, and choose Hold. And this brings up the Retime area, and we see that we have 0%, and we can drag that to create a longer freeze, and then we can trim the clip back so that we end on it.
Let's see if we like this effect. (BD Dautch: It becomes a celebration of life, as well as a culinary celebration.) Depending on the style you're trying to create, you probably wouldn't want to use a lot of timing effects in a piece like this. The most important thing is to make the narrative sound and feel natural by creating the right amount of pause when someone says something you want to view or to take in and then to make the most of the clips you've chosen to support that narrative.
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