Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
Once you have used B-roll to enhance your scene, you might want to consider adding some deeper and more connective visual elements to your documentary in the form of Process Footage. Process footage at its most basic level is footage that shows a person completing a task in clean continuity. It's kind of like B-roll, and it's kind of like cinema verite, but at its heart process footage is footage that draws the viewer into the documentary subject's own experience. To understand how to edit process footage, I want to first show you a little bit of footage here.
I am going to just go into Assets and B-roll, and I am going to open up the Farm Picking_Pruning bin. I am going to take a look at these last few clips here, Wrapping herbs sunny 2, 3, and 4. So here is a guy and he is picking these herbs and he's cutting them and then he's wrapping them and then he throws them in a box. So that's all shown in a long shot. Here, the same thing, picking, cutting, throwing in the box in both a close-up and then a medium shot and then this one here, same thing.
So we get them in basically four different frame compositions, which is really helpful. This footage is of a repetitive task, and the frame was reconstituted many times, giving us close-ups, medium shots, long shots, and so on, and this allows us to seamlessly cut back and forth between these various shots, thereby creating a sort of fluid scene. Additionally, what it does is it lets us create an intimate glimpse into this person's process, and this type of continuity editing is naturally built into narrative footage where you have multiple takes and multiple angles, and in documentary, however, this creation is more complicated, more intricate.
Process footage is most often material in which the subject is filmed doing a task that is usually wholly central to his or her profession or personality or environment. So if you take a look at sort of the after, once this has been edited, I have this here to show you, and we have the shots together, and it's right after this bit of B-roll. So I am just going to play this whole thing and then we have the process footage at the end and hopefully it sort of slows you down and makes you kind of watch.
(BD Dautch: 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 try not to do any shipping. We try to keep it all local.) (video playing) As you saw, you know I kind of let it linger there. I tend to do that with process footage so that some of it does have some narration or interview underneath it, but some of it is just kind of there for you to watch.
And I am using this as a sort of element of my film grammar. So we talked about film grammar before, how we build in some constructs that define this film. This is one of mine in this film. I have a lot of these parts where we are watching someone do something, and I really feel that it enhances the documentary viewing experience. So let's just practice some right now. If I go back to this here that needs a little bit of process footage, I am going to just find some if I climb into my Assets, and I am going to go to Farm Picking_Pruning, and I have here BD picking lettuce, and here I am doing the same thing in the long shot and the same thing in the medium shot.
As you can see, I already have my in and out points here. If you don't, you can go ahead and lay them in wherever you like, but I'm going to start with his hands and go ahead and patch A1 to A2 so maybe we can get a little bit of sound of his picking the lettuce, and let's go ahead and Overwrite, B, and I am going to play. (BD Dautch: ...Earthtrine Farm, and we've got about 10 acres in Ojai--) Okay, and now let's go to his face, okay, I have set my in and my out, and I am ready to edit, Overwrite, B, and then finally in the long shot.
Okay, great, and Overwrite. All right. I am just going to watch, and let's just see how we feel about it. (BD Dautch: ...name is BD Dautch, and I have Earthtrine Farm, and we've got about 10 acres in Ojai and 5 acres in Carpinteria that we're farming on. It's all certified organic. And we grow about 100 different--) All right, so it's coming along. This one does not have the process footage by itself like we did before, but I did want to show one more example of where I do have it, and it hopefully makes the viewer engaged with the footage.
I am going to go back to number 2 here, load it up, and it's just this bit at the very end here. So we kind of have our B-roll, and I am going to start playing right here. (BD Dautch: ...time to really get perspective on the whole farm and the progress, the problems, so when everybody arrives I'm ready to direct them.) Okay, so he is talking about the contemplative nature of the farm, and then we see him in long shot, we see him in close-up, and then we see him again in the long shot, and this footage basically has reconstituted the frame several times, so this works.
Process footage, like I said, can be put over interviews or narration, it can exist alone. Whatever you choose to do with it, I am sure you will find that working with it is really rewarding and brings another layer of visual and emotional interest to your documentary.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
93 Video lessons · 33080 Viewers
135 Video lessons · 67389 Viewers
79 Video lessons · 23630 Viewers
350 Video lessons · 107960 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.