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This course shows how to build a polished documentary using Avid Media Composer and a few essential editing techniques. Author Ashley Kennedy demonstrates documentary editing in a real-world project, breaking down the process into a series of manageable steps and milestones. Discover how to define a project approach based on a client's creative brief, and then effectively review and organize the footage. Then find out how to use script-based editing methods and a wide variety of scene creation techniques to assemble a rough cut. The course also shows how to use effects to repair and enhance your footage, process client feedback, and add the film's finishing elements.
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 Premiere Pro and Documentary Editing with Final Cut Pro X.
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.
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