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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.
- Interpreting a creative brief
- Exploring the documentary postproduction process
- Organizing footage and using searching techniques
- Setting up and using digital transcripts
- Building sequences and scenes to form the rough cut
- Adding effects to repair and enhance footage
- Fine-tuning the sequence to reach picture lock
- Receiving feedback
- Finishing the film with titles, color correction, and professional audio
Skill Level Intermediate
So we know we're slated with the task of relaying several important points within the parameters of the Farm to Table project, and we have a general idea of the assets that are available to us. In order to figure out our approach and style, let's take a look at some possible options and then decide how we'd like to move forward. Given our assets we're probably going to let the interview footage and B-roll tell a large majority of our story. The interviews have been shot rather traditionally. So we've already got that part largely decided for us. They will serve as the backbone of the piece.
We have one main documentary subject and about a half a dozen secondary subjects and they'll each get there chance to help tell our story. The video B-roll as all of the primary and supplemental video footage that was shot that'll be inter cut with the interviews. B-roll can be anything from beauty shots to intricately shot process footage. We'll explore all of this later. What else do we have? Narration, or voice over, is common technique in documentaries to relay information to the audience. The style amount and content of the narration can vary drastically from project to project, but in general voiceover narration gives a documentary a somewhat observational feel where the audience is getting a guided look at the topic at hand.
Text is another tool that can help relay important information to the audience. Text has the ability to slow down a piece, allowing the audience to soak in essential information. Usually, filmmakers tend to use text more as a punctuation device where there are fewer instances of it, but it can really feel like its own character within the film. Sometimes documentaries don't use any formal channels of information relay. Indeed you can just let the footage tell the story, and that's what cinema verite is. A technique commonly used in documentaries from the 60s is truly a secret look inside the lives of others.
Now because we already have a somewhat formal or a traditional method in the form of our interviews, we won't be employing true cinema verite in our documentary, but I think it could be great to use a little bit of this technique. Sometimes documentary film makers choose to take a very creative, artistic approach to their storytelling technique perhaps in the form of eccentric graphics, cartoons, or music. Being a little out of the box can really make a documentary interesting and exciting to watch. So let's keep that in the back of our minds. Of course, many documentaries choose to take a combination of these approaches and may even employ techniques we haven't mentioned. As I said we have an arsenal at our disposal.
So we shouldn't be afraid to use what we've got. Give it all of these considerations we need to figure out how we're going to tell our story. Sometimes the technique is boiler plated for us, and we don't have too much freedom, but in this case, we do have some leeway. So how do we decide? We want to take a look at a few things our content, our audience, and our intentions. Our content, or subject, is a progressive movement involving focus on agriculture, cuisine, and ecology. Nothing too formal about this. In fact, it's got a very organic natural feeling to it.
Our audience is mostly people who would likewise be interested in this type of progressive practice and lifestyle. Also, the Mayor of Santa Barbara hired us. So we've got to try to appeal to his basic desires. Again, we'll probably be going with a more organic approach here, but we also have to be concise and educational. Now our intention is to paint the farm to table process in a positive light while trying to educate and enlighten, and it'd be great if we could also try to be a little artsy about it. So based on all of that our basic strategy is going to lead us to go for an organic film to try to match our subject matter, but we still need to be educational and concise, and we'll let the interviews tell the story.
It'd be great to use some cinema verite where we let the footage speak for itself, and we probably won't be using any narration or text. So we definitely have a combination of tools we can use here. So we know we're going to keep it fairly organic and natural, but also be concise and informative. So hopefully we now have a good approach and know our project goals as well as the tools we have to make these goals reality. Let's be sure to remember all of that as we continue to fashion a plan to craft our documentary.