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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.
So we have gone through all the steps of evaluating the approach that we want to take in creating this documentary. We have done all the legwork in setting up our entire project in an organized way so that we can easily and effectively find our raw material. We are finally ready to start editing. But how should we begin? While there isn't any one right way to start out an edit, there are several approaches that many editors take. Let's lay out the basic process that we'll take in editing this documentary. Believe it or not, you may not want to dive immediately into the edit in Media Composer.
Many editors prefer to attack the general structure and flow of the edit first on paper, which is why this stage is called the paper edit. Once you've worked out on paper how your scenes will be arranged, it's not a bad idea to pre-create your sequences. It can become overwhelming to start editing an entire documentary in one sequence. So tackling one scene at a time is often a great way to limit your construction of ideas to a manageable chunk. Then you can combine the sequences later once each is fleshed out to your liking.
As you can see, here, I have six sequences, which represent my six scenes, and then a master sequence where I will later combine them all together. Then it's time to tackle a sequence. I'd recommend that you focus on settling your audio track first. This pass therefore is called the radio edit. When you create your radio edit, you are not worrying about how the video works. That can always be changed later on. But by focusing on audio, which is made up mostly of interview footage, but can also be narration or verite footage, you can begin building a solid backbone for the documentary.
We'll take a look at exactly how to go about this in the next movie. If you take a look right here, I have a radio edit where I have just my Interview footage. I've really concentrated on what I want him to say, but there is no video B-roll yet. That will come later. Once you get your radio edit worked out, you can begin adding supplementary video or B-roll to accompany the main audio. This part is fun because once you have worked out what you want your documentary to say, you now have the opportunity to guide your viewers in exactly what you want your documentary to show.
It's this play between audio and video that truly makes the art of documentary design so dynamic. You can get creative, artistic, and really dive into the viewer's subconscious in ways that only documentarians can do. If you take a look at the Radio Edit, I have just the Interview footage, but if I take a look at the Radio Edit plus the supplementary B-roll, I now have all of this gorgeous video footage to help tell my story. We'll definitely take a look at that later as well.
Once your main audio and video elements are laid down, you can really begin playing around in adding similar creative elements. This is where you can add montages and parallel editing and process footage editing. We'll take a look at each of these design techniques a little later. Finally, once you have laid down everything, and you're sure of your cut, you're ready to show your rough cut to a captive audience. It's important to show your rough cut to as many people as you can, both to people invested in the film as well as to those who have no stake in your film's success whatsoever.
In this sense you want to make sure that you deliver a product that is true to the vision of the director and other stakeholders, but also deliver a product that makes sense to the new viewer. So that's just a high-level overview of how you can go about putting together your rough cut. Let's take it one step at a time and begin editing our documentary.
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