I am currently in the “rough cut” phase of my latest show. And this, to me, is the most difficult part. This is where I need to make something out of nothing. Well, not NOTHING, as there is a lot of stuff there that you use. But this is the part of the phase that I need to look at ALL of my somethings, and cull it down and string it out and arrange it in a way to tell a good story. I am taking all these threads of stories, and footage, and weaving them into some rough story. There’s no need to be perfect at first, just get things in the right order, then you can start making it look good. So I guess this is a two phase, or three phase process.
First off, if you are lucky enough to have a script, this entails first making a RADIO CUT, that is, recording the temp narration, and then laying it out with the interview bytes into the proper order. So that when you close your eyes, you can hear the story and it is in order and makes sense. When you are done doing that, you go back and fill it in with b-roll and on camera sound bytes…and music.
If you aren’t lucky enough to have a script, this is far more envolved. You need to listen to all the interview bytes, and add markers, or subclip what they say and note what they say. It would be nice to have transcripts of these interviews, so you can make a paper edit, or read for the sound bytes as that is faster than listening, but you don’t always have this luxury either. In cases like this I make subclips of what people say, and often drop these into sequences and add other soundbytes as I go along, grouping them by topic. Then stringing it out, and filling it in with the footage and music.
Or, if you are in between those, like I am, you might have a rough outline, with some sound bytes (and the timecode where to find them, hopefully), in which you can start to build from. I am currently in the middle of a rough cut of Act 1, and I have some sound bytes to use, but there was a section in there where all it said was “friendly back and forth.” That’s a pretty big thing to say. Like the part in the script of a Jackie Chan movie where all it says is “fight scene.” You know that in those movies, that is a pretty big part of the movie. This is many hours of footage, and not all of it riveting. So I need to cull it down a bit. I have been, and I found other sound bytes that go along well with what is happening.
When in a rush to get a show done, I like having a full script. But I really do enjoy the rough outline, as the producer gives me the general direction that they want me to go in, and add sound bytes to punctuate what they want to say, but then give me a bit of “free reign” to have creative input of my own. I know full well that what I do might be cut down drastically, but at least I got a shot, and this way I get to know the footage better.
Now, as I am hoping to commute to work more on the train, I will see if I can do more daily updates of things I did, with specific editing tasks, to give a clearer picture of, well, MY editing process. That is if I don’t find an audio book that is too engrossing.