Join Norman Hollyn for an in-depth discussion in this video Documentary, part of Foundations of Video: The Art of Editing.
Norman: Documentaries are getting more and more popular. There are many flavors of them, whether, they're those on educational channels, on nature or cooking networks, corporate videos, reality TV shows, game shows, they all tell stories. That means that we can look at them in the same way that we've been examining everything else in this course. It's easier to edit them when you know what your story is. Once difference in many documentaries from narrative scripted stories is that docs tend to go through larger changes in their stories as they shoot and as they're being edited.
In fact, many documentaries shoot for a little while then go cut. Then they come back and shoot some more based on the already shot footage. That's why some docs can take years to shoot and finish. We're going to take a look at a piece from a short documentary called Farm to Table, which is about a small farmer near Santa Barbara, California who's been growing a variety of healthy produce sold at local farmers markets where it's then sold to people and to restaurants, where it completes its journey.
The film wants to document who that farmer is and what his process is. This is an assignment that many of you who work in corporate video or for news agencies will be getting all the time. There's a person who's doing something interesting, go do a piece on him or her. As with all films, we're going to start crafting a story for this three minute short film. The brief log line that I just mentioned will give us some good ideas on what shape the film will probably have.
So here is a way of organizing the ideas in this short doc, because we are actually creating a story in the editing room. We may be given these ideas. Or we may have to generate them ourselves. But the end result is the same. We will divide the film into four parts. The three areas suggested by my description above. The farm, the market, and the restaurant. And a final wrap up. This will help the audience to follow our story in a smart way.
Since this is a very short film, it's easy for us to analyze the whole story. But note that it still follows the complete documentary structure. And this is going to work for you even if you're working on a feature length film, or a series of episodes. So here's the first part of the film, The Farm. Norman: Notice what the film makers have done here.
They introduce their style, which are beauty shots of the farm, with nothing but music. Once we get enough of that information then BD's voice starts explaining who he is. And then give some sense of what the farm is, and its history. BD Dautch: My name is BD Dautch. And I have Earthtrine Farm. Where we've been since 1998. And we've got about ten acres in Ojai. And we grow about 100 different herbs, vegetables, flowers, fruits. And we sell mostly at the Farmer's Market.
And also we sell to caterers, schools, restaurants. We try not to do any shipping. We try to keep it all local. Norman: We gradually get to see BD closer and closer until we finally get to him talking on camera. All of the shots of the the farm and BD and others working on it are called B-Roll as opposed to the actual interviews. But, notice where the filmmakers finally cut to BD on camera, right as he lists all the things that he grows on the farm.
Herbs, vegetables, flowers, fruits. This is a lean-forward moment for us, because we've gone from off-camera voice to on-camera interview. A very big change. As we've talked about in an earlier film, going from shots where we only hear someone talking to someone on camera talking is going to emphasize the words that person says on camera. So, you need to be very careful what those words are. Here, the film makers are emphasizing his crops and his pride in them.
So, it makes sense to edit to BD at that exact moment. Okay, now let's jump a little bit further into the film where we are getting ready to move from the first part of the film to the second part, the market. I want you to look at what the film makers did to change how information is imparted in between the sections. BD Dautch: People grow everything from mangoes, to cherries, so that's really beneficial, and makes the Santa Barbara market, which has this small town feel, but it's a big time market. Makes it one of the best in the world.
This is the era of California cuisine. Which is buying what's local and in season. Norman: First off, notice how the film makers let BD setup the transition for the audience, by having him start talking about it while we are watching him load the trucks to go to the market, then they stop him talking for a few seconds, something that they haven't done since the opening. Now to the point two, they are calling back to the style that they introduced at the top of the film, that is B roll identifying location and giving a flavor of this new location, with no voice-over.
Then, as soon as BD finishes talking, the music rises and we get the feeling that we're on to something new. So this is definitely going to make us feel differently definitely in forward moment as we realize that we are now being taken to the market along with BD. This is a style that is called back again, though in a slightly different way, as we move from the market to the restaurant. BD Dautch: We have a really good relationship with the restaurants. And so they're part of this whole renaissance of eating that involves purchasing your produce from the locals. And rather than trying to have a fixed menu, you work with what's happening at that season.
Male: We opened this restaurant in, 1982. And, you know, about 1983, BD came through the back door. Norman: Notice how the type of shot changes on the transition. BD has, in voice-over, introduced the idea of restaurants already. And now we cut to a shot of a sign, the B roll, and we're going to assume that that's the restaurant. The music also changes and gets louder for a brief moment, and we duck down again for the wrap-up.
Female: Everyone comes together. I love like the feel and the energy, and I think it's a great opportunity to shop locally. And I feel good eating it, knowing that these guys put passion in, they love what they do. BD Dautch: I feel like I'm the luckiest person in the world. It incorporates everything that I look for in life, from family to economy to community, as well as a culinary celebration.
Norman: And once again, note how the film ends. Almost how it began. Focused on BD, who we've identified as our lead character, of course. And the pretty pictures of his food which is now in his customer's hands. BD's end quote sums up everything that the film makers want us to know as we discussed in the opening long shot. Notice that throughout, the film makers have established a style, they've divided the piece into chapters which will be separated in similar ways, they've determined that BD is their focus.
And when he speaks and doesn't speak will be how the audience will know where they are in the film, in each of the sections of the film or in the transitions between. Documentaries are narratives just like fiction. And because we are telling stories, whether it's about a farmer or corporate executive, we can approach this type of film just like any other. By looking at our story line and finding our lean forward moments.
Start with an overview of concepts like the rule of threes, review a sampling of footage from films past and present, and then dive into script analysis. Find out when and when not to make cuts, how to collaborate with clients and directors during recutting, and how to ground the emotional backdrop for your piece with music and sound. Norman closes with a look at adapting to different genres and filmic styles.
- Exploring the history of video editing
- Controlling what the audience sees
- Identifying the logline
- Performing script and scene analysis
- Coming up with an editing plan
- Cutting from on-camera to off-camera action
- Understanding the value of recutting
- Shaping moments with music
- Working in a specific genre
- Mixing editing styles together