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Using montage and parallel editing to manipulate time and ideas

From: Documentary Editing with Avid Media Composer

Video: Using montage and parallel editing to manipulate time and ideas

As you're working to build an effective narrative for your documentary, you will inevitably need to figure out ways to both compress and expand time, both for logistical reasons--like to fit a lot of information in a short period of time-- and also to engage the audience in more exciting ways. Now as you do this it's also nice to be able to combine different ideas and make that work for your film. Now there are a few ways you can tackle time and idea manipulation. Here we're going to take a look at two, Montage editing and Parallel editing.

Using montage and parallel editing to manipulate time and ideas

As you're working to build an effective narrative for your documentary, you will inevitably need to figure out ways to both compress and expand time, both for logistical reasons--like to fit a lot of information in a short period of time-- and also to engage the audience in more exciting ways. Now as you do this it's also nice to be able to combine different ideas and make that work for your film. Now there are a few ways you can tackle time and idea manipulation. Here we're going to take a look at two, Montage editing and Parallel editing.

Now in the last movie we took a look at Process Footage editing, which is basically editing with continuity, where we see a task that is actually not filmed in real time, but we present it as if it were. So here we have our guy wrapping the herbs and here we have him in close up and then we cut out to him in a medium shot and then a long shot and everything is matched on action. So we have him basically holding the herbs like so, in both of these shots, and we have him cutting the herbs in both of those shots, all right.

Now, this is something that was filmed over several minutes, and we are basically condensing it into a few seconds. Okay, so we are not trying to really manipulate time in this way. We're trying to kind of recreate reality, all right? So we're going to do something slightly different with Montage Editing. When we edit Montage, we're taking multiple separate shots and combining them one after another. Now this is often used to convey a passage of time or a convergence of ideas. Here I have a montage. I am just going to go ahead and play it so you can see what I am talking about.

(video playing) So all of these events happened in the same general time period, in the same general space, but the shots are totally separate. When we combine them, we see something that happened over a period of about an hour condensed into a period of about 15 seconds. Now montage can be used as B-roll.

So this isn't much different than when we were talking about B-roll. However, the very nature of B-roll is that it is supplementing the A-roll, which in our case is the interview footage. So if it's not supplementing the primary audio, then video like this can be combined as a stand-alone montage like we see here. The only thing that's really underneath it is music, all right? So we have basically a time condenser in the form of these separate shots coming together to form one idea.

Now I want to take a look at Parallel Editing, and so parallel editing, or crosscutting, is another way to manipulate time. This is where you edit two or more storylines so that each scene advances forward in isolation while visually interacting with the other. So often use Parallel editing when you want to show a convergence of subjects or ideas that are simultaneously occurring. Usually it not only serves the purpose of bringing together these ideas, but it also effectively condenses time, letting you sort of dynamically show multiple ideas in less time than if you strung them end to end.

All right, so here I have our farmers market scene as well, so I have the same basic shots. But they are sort of occurring right in between this scene of BD driving. So I won't play the whole thing, but I want to give you a sense of what I'm talking about here. Here he is talking about the farmers market, and then we cut to the farmers market. Then he is going to be talking about the farmers market, and then he cuts to the farmers market, so that when he actually drives up, we already have a sense of what the farmers market is all about.

All right, so let's go ahead and play this. (BD Dautch: The Santa Barbara markets are some of the best in the world. The vibe of market, everything about it is--it's just so personal, there's such direct contact, so many people--interested people and interesting people.) All right, this is, you know, an example. These events aren't happening at the same time, but you have basically the idea of the farmers market, then you see it, then you talk about it, then you see it.

So this is you know one example of what I am talking about. I have here another example where we basically have one subject that is present in both scenes, but the scenes occur in different times in different places, and we're going to talk about some strategies about how to make this more interesting. (video playing) So here we have the guy with our herbs, and here we have a girl with the same herbs, but now she is at the market preparing them for sale, and then we cut back to him and then back to her, you know sort of underscoring the idea that this comes from the earth, it is farm to table, so it really kind of cuts back and forth between these two scenes.

Now, right now it's not as good as it could be. I have a few strategies that can help this out and make it a little bit more interesting and help these ideas come together a little bit more. Here she comes, and we definitely have different sounds. I am going to make that work for us, all right? So I am going to just get into Trim mode, press U, and I am going to just trim--Dual-Roller trim--over about this much so that we actually hear her scene before we see it, all right? So this is a J cut--a J cut because it looks like a J--and we've basically split the edit.

And let's go ahead and play this out, and you'll see what I mean. (video playing) So, sometimes this can work when you have two scenes, and you want to basically make sure that these ideas are linked, this is one way to do that. Another way which I really love doing is matching on action. We have here he's throwing the herbs in the box, and she's putting the herbs in the box, and I think we can cut this so that it actually is one fluid motion.

All right, so I am just going to get into Trim mode, and I want to do an A-side trim. And I am just going to rock back with J-K-L so that we find the moment right before it gets into the box, right there, and I'll release. And then the same thing over here we want to make sure that we get the moment right before it enters the box. So... (video playing) About right there. Okay, I am going to try that, and let's go ahead and play around the edit, I'll press spacebar. (video playing) All right. I am going to just give this just one more or two more frames of room, okay.

And now I am going to play it and see how that works. (video playing) All right. I think that works, so as you can see, just a little visual change here really kind of brings those ideas together even more. And these are things that you can do not only when parallel editing, but also with continuity editing. But when you do it with parallel editing, it's kind of little bit stronger because we have these two places, these two locations, these two subjects kind of performing a similar motion so that we basically see that come together on screen.

So there are other editing devices that can help you manipulate time, but Montage Editing and Parallel Editing are certainly several good tools to try out. Used in conjunction with other methods, they can certainly help to engage the viewer in exciting ways.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Documentary Editing with Avid Media Composer
Documentary Editing with Avid Media Composer

39 video lessons · 3722 viewers

Ashley Kennedy
Author

 
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  1. 6m 12s
    1. Welcome
      1m 36s
    2. Using the exercise files
      4m 36s
  2. 10m 49s
    1. Interpreting a creative brief to establish goals
      3m 3s
    2. Examining project assets
      3m 43s
    3. Defining the project approach
      4m 3s
  3. 11m 52s
    1. Understanding the documentary postproduction process
      2m 15s
    2. Focusing on the preparatory phase
      3m 33s
    3. Focusing on the rough cut phase
      3m 27s
    4. Focusing on the picture lock workflow
      2m 37s
  4. 36m 51s
    1. Beginning a project
      10m 28s
    2. Screening and assigning qualitative information to clips
      7m 3s
    3. Looking for stock footage using the Avid Marketplace
      4m 27s
    4. Marrying high-quality audio with video
      4m 54s
    5. Using the Find tool and PhraseFind to search the audio in a clip
      5m 58s
    6. Understanding transcoding
      4m 1s
  5. 14m 11s
    1. Preparing a script for script integration
      4m 17s
    2. Syncing a script using ScriptSync
      5m 9s
    3. Manually syncing a script
      4m 45s
  6. 59m 56s
    1. An overview of the rough cut process
      3m 38s
    2. Making the paper edit
      3m 9s
    3. Using a two-column script
      3m 33s
    4. Assembling the radio edit
      7m 15s
    5. Building scenes with B-roll
      9m 30s
    6. Editing process footage
      6m 29s
    7. Using montage and parallel editing to manipulate time and ideas
      8m 20s
    8. Adding natural and environmental sound
      6m 11s
    9. Correcting audio
      6m 22s
    10. Putting it all together: Completing the assembly edit
      5m 29s
  7. 32m 52s
    1. Dealing with multiple formats in a project
      5m 2s
    2. Adding movement to static images
      6m 6s
    3. Stabilizing shaky footage
      3m 23s
    4. Changing and fixing portions of the video frame
      8m 7s
    5. Compressing and expanding time in video and audio
      5m 23s
    6. Repairing jump cuts using the FluidMorph plug-in
      4m 51s
  8. 22m 25s
    1. Getting feedback, making adjustments, and receiving approval
      3m 16s
    2. Creating multiple titles and lower thirds
      5m 39s
    3. Understanding the finishing process
      5m 46s
    4. Delivering the project
      7m 44s
  9. 1m 28s
    1. Next steps
      1m 28s

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