Picture: A student at the West End School studies in his room. By Derek Poore
UPDATE, Feb. 9, 2011: This piece won Best Multimedia in the 2010 Pictures of the Year Competition held by the Kentucky News Photographers Association.
In March and April 2010 I produced a video story for The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal on a small boarding school called the West End School. Video was shot on four separate days. All that shooting generated a first cut that was nearly five minutes long.
Needless to say there was some repetition in the interviews and the cutaways and b-roll weren't always necessary. But with critiques from Bob Sacha, a former producer at MediaStorm, and David Stephenson at the University of Kentucky, I managed to trim it down to three minutes. The pace is quicker, there are more visuals and interview voice overs breathe a bit better.
That's not to suggest it wasn't hard. All that cutting. Storytelling, especially in journalism, is most effective when the audience is entertained and educated all at the same time. Mark Twain supposedly said "if I see an adjective, I kill it." Editing video can be similar. "I feel like great films show, don't tell," Sacha told me.
The best print journalists visualize their stories before they do any reporting. This helps them assemble a narrative after interview subjects and the end result is a story, not an article.
Removing that one greatly-composed piece of b-roll to quicken the pace of a transition or cutting a wordy 15-second explanation from an interview session to a snappier five-second sound bite may be tough, but ultimately will help the audience enjoy and understand your piece.