Start learning with our library of video tutorials taught by experts. Get started
Viewed by members. in countries. members currently watching.
Find out how to highlight a cause, express a point of view, and tell a story with Adobe Premiere Pro and some essential documentary editing techniques. This course breaks down the documentary process into a series of stages that correspond to the milestones of a real client project. Starting with existing footage, you'll discover how to identify the key messaging concepts and log the footage. Then find out how to assemble rough and fine-tuned cuts, and layer in motion graphics and a credit roll. The final phase explores color correction and audio mixing, before exporting your 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 Final Cut Pro X.
Fine cutting audio is an extremely important step. Now this is different than mixing audio. I'm not concerned with the levels at the moment. What I'm concerned with is getting the best frame-accurate edits to all of my audio tracks. Let me show you what I mean. Let's start at the beginning with this interview with BD. I need to unlock all this audio because we're going to be working on it, and I don't want to listen just to all of the sounds mixed together. I actually want to turn off everything but the voiceover, so I can really focus on how BD's interview is working. Okay, without the background noise, let's listen.
(BD Dautch: Okay. My name is BD Dautch, and I have Earthtrine Farm, and we've got about 10 acres in Ojai. It's all certified organic by CCOF.) And what I want to work on is that raggedness this during the start and stop. When we go from no sound to sound, it's a little rough. And there is two ways to work on this, they're related. Let's scroll down so we can see the waveform, and the first of these techniques we've actually seen some of before, which is just finding the perfect edit point frame by frame, so if we listen.
(video playing) It sounds pretty good, but I always like to know if I extend a few frames do I get into trouble with another word or do I have a smoother transition? (video playing) Okay, we do get in trouble with him saying okay. So let's nudge that back one frame at a time until we find that perfect frame. (video playing) I think one more--and by the way, I'm not concerned that I'm also editing the video in this case because it's completely covered by a cover shot, but in some instances you would have to lock this off and adjust separately. (video playing) Maybe one more frame. (video playing) I think that's the best we're going to do, but I might try one more just to make sure.
As once you've gone too far you know you've got the best one. (video playing) I think so. Okay, so the second thing we have to do is some how blend this transition from no noise to BD talking. And the work we do here is going to be careful work and then when we turn the other audio tracks on, it will sort of get buried, so we won't hear it as much anyway. So we're reducing the imperfections, and then they're going to get reduced again, and this is a good thing. So what we need is something called room tone, and that's defined as the noise going into the microphone during the interview, but when no one's talking.
Of course in this case it was an outdoor interview so room tone is a bit of a misnomer, but it's still called that. We actually have to start by importing the room tone into the project, so let's get our Media Browser open and navigate to where your exercise files are. And in the Media folder you can see that we have a directory called room tone, there it is, and I'm actually going to trust that what I need is in there and just drag the entire folder up into the project pane so that I create not just a new clip with the room tone but also a bin to stay organized.
And there we see that we have our new room tone Bin and included is the clip that we need. I can probably close the Media Browser now to have a little more timeline room. Okay, let's look at this room tone. Not so concerned with the picture, but I do care about the audio. We see that it's almost completely flat, but it's not completely silent, let's listen. (video playing) Got some wind and some birds, it's just what we need.
I like to decide on the timeline how much of the room tone I need. So I know it's going to end when the bite starts there, so I'll mark an out, and then I don't really care exactly where it begins because I'm going to ramp it up rather slowly, but I think that if I start it right around this transition that will work well, so I'll put an in point. So you see I've marked my Timeline there. That's going to make it really easy to edit right into this space.
I do need to make sure I target everything properly, and I'm going to go ahead and lock off the video tracks because I don't want to make any changes there. That's probably redundant, because if I drag audio only I'm essentially doing the same thing, but I like to be safe at this late stage of the edit. Okay, looking good, and we Drop to Overwrite, and I'll just fit right in there, and now we have this room tone, and I can add a Transition and actually extend that transition out quite a bit, because what I want is to ramp up on this slowly and then into BD.
Let's see what it sounds like, and keep in mind every other sound is still off, so we're only hearing this track. (video playing) It's better, but we still have a little bit of a shock here when we switch. I may play with the Transition here also. But if I do that, I don't want to get his voice coming in early, so I want to make sure to adjust that Transition in terms of its alignment on the edit, wrong way.
So you see now we're transitioning some of the room tone on top of his talking, but hopefully not bringing any of his talking in earlier. You have to play with these. Sometimes they work, sometimes they make it worse, let's listen. (video playing) Yup, it's smoother, don't you agree? Let's do one more these, and then we'll skip ahead to see how this technique plays through the whole Timeline. You really do need to work carefully through the entire Timeline on something like this. But in this case, I see the next break here, let's listen.
(video playing) So again, I'll go ahead and mark the gap. Generally, I like to use different parts of the room tone. Technically, with good room tone it really shouldn't matter, but marking in there, same technique, drag audio only, and now we've pasted it right in there, give it a listen. (video playing) And I do think the opportunity is to add a little bit of transitions and adjust them, but you know how to do that, so I'd rather skip ahead and show you how this technique plays out.
Okay, let's take a close look at the edits we've made to the BD interview, and then I'm going to turn on the other sounds, and we'll listen to everything together. Here you can see the changes I made, and you can see if you look close that sometimes the solution is a full cross-fade, sometimes it's an adjusted aligned cross-fade, you just have to listen to figure out what's right. Here we've done a long patch with a short fade, and you really don't know how good a job you've done until you turn everything else on, so all my speakers are live, and now listen to the change that we made.
(video playing) (BD Dautch: My name is BD Dautch, and I have Earthtrine Farm, and we've got about 10 acres--) Now if all you're noticing is level problems, we're in exactly the right place. We've figured out all of the little transitions and gotten the material, and now if we go in with our mix just to adjust levels, things should work out well. I want to show you one more example of this type of audio edit that comes a little later.
It's down here in the farmers market scene, let's zoom in and also look at the natural sound which is where this took place. Make sure your waveforms are on, and this is what I want to show you. We have three shots of the farmers market, but when I went to edit the audio, what I realized was the background noise on the second two shots was just not working. It wasn't generic enough. People were talking, or music was playing, and I don't want to attract attention to background noise.
I just want it to be like wallpaper. So look what I did here. I used my best natural sound which was on this shot of BD packing, and I just extended it under the rest for a smooth delivery. I've got all of the other tracks on, and I just want to play out how this works. (video playing) We've got all the texture we need and smooth transitions.
We still need to work on the levels, but we've set ourselves up for mix so that it can go really, really smoothly.
There are currently no FAQs about Documentary Editing with Premiere Pro.
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.