Cutting documentaries can be very difficult. Even if you’re a veteran editor, there’s always something new you can learn. I decided to ask the Twitter community what their tips and tricks were for editing documentary videos. Here are some I thought were helpful:
@ go in with no preconceptions and allow the story to flow. No-one has a monopoly on good ideas in the edit room #postchat
@ Write out scenes on index cards, visually shuffle and structure your film. Watch other docs and narratives for inspiration.
@ Make sure you: understand the topic; know your footage; keep the big picture in mind whilst you're stressing the details.
@ Understand the subject. Get to know your footage. Read the director's treatment & research material.
@ @ BE ORGANIZED. Discipline is not the enemy of creativity--it is the editor's best friend.
@ Take some time to figure out how you want your meta-data & organize before you start importing & stacking stuff up.
Tips for editing documntaries? @ Log, Log, Log, Log and Log some more. And never underestimate the speed of transcripts
@ When doing a rough cut, NEVER second guess your edit decisions until you're down with the edit, then fine tune your cuts.
@ Find moments that spark; construct scenes around them. Often despite original intentions. You are the slave to the footage.
@ @ my favorite edits when doing a doc are often letting a great shot play out, even if it’s a long one. #PostChat
@ try to avoid excessive use of VoiceOver. Remember it's still a visual form and you can tell a story with images too:)
@ Never cut away from an interview if the subject is looking off camera. Also never cut away on a blink. Maintain eye contact.
@ Also: Lay out 1 or 2 important interviews on a timeline. Mix, match, re-order them. Thats where u find the real story.
@ No worries. Also, spike the volume whenever subject gets emotional in an interview. Voices get lower as they get emotional.
@ Find out what kind of audio you'll be dealing with. Audio quality is more imp. than doc video quality for end product.
@ There can often be a vast chasm between what happened in real life vs. what happened on screen. Pay attention to the LATTER!
@ Try to be honest when editing documentaries. Don't try to tell a story, that's not there. Listen and you'll know. #PostChat
@ Give viewers a reason to care w/variety of facts while showing the heart of the story & history #EditingAndPost #PostChat
Those are some great tips! Thank you all who contributed. One of the main parts of creating a documentary (or any video for that matter) is organization. As mentioned in several tweets, organization is extremely important. It may be tedious and boring, but it will pay off in the end.
If you have some tips to editing docs you would like to share with the post-production community, leave it in the comments section below. Also, feel free to bookmark this page for future reference.