Now comes the hard part. Editing video was the most daunting thing I have tried with the computer. Just finding a starting place was complex. I muddled through a couple of edits making a mess of everything. Then my co-worker Jeronimo Nisa came to the rescue and explained some of the basics of video editing. That got me started and from there I was able to add techniques and learn as I moved forward.
The most basic step in editing is understanding and cataloging each clip. You may have twenty or more clips so it is important to listen to each clip and log notes. This takes a while but it saves time in the long run because, as you edit, you will remember a quote you want and then have notes to refer to so you will immediately know which clip contains the segment.
After logging your clips you are ready to move into the actual editing. This involves moving segments from your raw clips into your timeline. The average video in the Twin Killers series is about six minutes long. My first edit usually left me with about two minutes to trim. This is painful because I felt I had already cut the content drastically from the raw clips. The trick is to preserve enough detail without allowing the video to bog down.
This can be a challenge when editing for the internet. A normal person will sit down and watch a documentary from 3o minutes to 2 hours long on TV without batting an eye. That same person may click out of an internet video after a minute or two. Holding their attention in a six minute video becomes a challenge and good editing helps meet that challenge. Let me beat the quality drum one more time. I believe strongly that the reason most people have a shorter attention span on newspaper web sites than they do for a TV show is because of the vast difference in quality being produced by TV versus the relatively poor quality videos on many newspaper sites. Translation: If you build it they will come.
Interesting clips are an important component in editing and transitions between clips are a key to moving the story along. I discovered that jump cuts should be used most of the time. That means the scene jumps from clip to clip without any transition. When I first began editing I was fading every clip into another clip. As it turns out this is boring. On the positive side, a fade cut is a good way to transition between ideas in a video. What I found was that jump cuts kept an interview flowing but a fade cut is a good way to change the flow.
After you assemble all your clips and get the transitions down you are ready to add titles and subtitles. You may also need to add motion to a clip or a still image you incorporated. All this takes time and, in my case, repetition to get it right. There were many times when I just wanted to quit and say an edit was good enough. I sometimes closed the program and walked away until another day when I had a better attitude and could put in the time needed to refine the edit.
I found that editing had several layers. The initial layer was a basic layout of the story. I then took that basic edit and trimmed the fat to get it down to an acceptable time. After that I would set my video transitions. Next I would refine the audio. You would be amazed how difficult it can be to cut audio so it sounds natural and, try as I might, there were some transitions that were just impossible. There was one clip where the subject was talking about 200 mph winds and the mic dropped out right when he said the word “two hundred.” I noticed it because I was monitoring the sound so I had him say the sentence again. During the edit I clipped in just the word “two hundred” and it sounds pretty natural. After finishing the audio transitions I added my title slides which was usually the last step.
I would show the video to a couple of people and take their input and refine the edit one more time. By the way, make absolutely sure to save often. Video editing can be complex enough you might not remember exactly what you did if you have to redo a piece should your computer fail or your program close. (Yes, this did happen to me once when I lost an entire edit because I failed to save.) The final step is outputting to Quick Time and uploading the finished project to the web host.
After finishing the six videos in the Twin Killers series I calculated the time involved in editing. I came up with the rough number of one hour of edit time for each minute of finished video. I estimate thirty hours of editing for the whole project. Someone who is experienced may have knocked it out in a hurry but you don’t get experienced without doing it. Maybe someday I will be both better and faster.