Streetfilms University: The “Simple” Art of Editing (YOU can do it!)
The first thing I like to emphasize to folks when they come to see me at conferences to give my Streetfilms University presentation is that if you have a little bit of patience, really anyone can make and edit a decent short film. Even with little or no experience. Sure, perhaps not to a "Streetfilms standard" right off the bat, but believe me: if you put the time in, you can edit and make a successful and perfectly watchable advocacy tool.
One method I like to use is playing videos showing a progression of clips, each step showing the transformation of a talking head interview to its placement within a Streetfilm. First, I play the raw soundbite I was working with. Next, I edit down my taking head and remove extraneous information to make a sleeker, faster answer. Then, I show what it looks like with b-roll (footage), sound and/or graphics edited in to showcase the final Streetfilms product.
This above clip is of Professor Norman Garrick from the University of Connecticut. He's easily become one of my favorite people to interview and this featured edit progression is from my recent Streetfilm "Zurich: Where People are Welcome and Cars Are Not." You'll see how I took a one minute soundbite and edited it down to 27 seconds with five edits. Then what it looks like once music and footage of transit & city life is ladled in.
There are many ways and styles to edit a film. But as a beginner don't get bogged down much on what music you are gonna use or how you are gonna begin the video or fancy animated graphics or kinds of transitions/fonts/titles you want. Just concentrate on your interviews. Edit them down to tell the story you want to. All of the other elements will actually be easier to decide once you have soundbites lined up. Trust me. There's not much sense putting effort into editing a fancy 20 second opening montage to your video and then saying to yourself, "Okay, now what?"
Here's another edit progression I've included, this time featuring three of transportation greatest heroes from the Streetfilm "The Rise of Open Streets". watch how three perfectly wonderful sound bites at a length of 1:12 sound even better at 33 seconds, and then the momentum it picks up by adding the appropriate corresponding footage.
I'm not saying this approach is the best for everybody, but it 's simple and always works. And you can duplicate it. Just be aware that it may take listening to a soundbite dozens of times to find out what to remove. Or better yet: letting the video sit and sleeping on it and coming back with a fresh set of eyes and ears. Just like a college term paper!
This final "riding interview" sequence I am attaching not to recommend you try for yourself (after all I've been doing this for 15 years) but it does illustrate how you can make magic happen. This is a clip of fellow media maker Chris Bruntlett I shot while riding in Montreal's Tour de l'Île. I accidentally had a GoPro recording during our chat and later when I realized I had the two angles, I wanted show what I sometimes endure and navigate while in the midst of my job. Nevertheless, the final product shows how adding in the right video b-roll helps tell the tale. Enjoy!