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Documentary Editing

Book Description

Documentary Editing offers clear and detailed strategies for tackling every stage of the documentary editing process, from organizing raw footage and building select reels to fine cutting and final export. Written by a Sundance award- winning documentary editor with a dozen features to his credit and containing examples from over 100 films, this book presents a step-by-step guide for how to turn seemingly shapeless footage into focused scenes, and how to craft a structure for a documentary of any length. The book contains insights and examples from seven of America’s top documentary editors, including Geoffrey Richman (The Cove, Sicko), Kate Amend (The Keepers, Into the Arms of Strangers), and Mary Lampson (Harlan County U.S.A.), and a companion website contains easy-to-follow video tutorials.

Written for both practitioners and enthusiasts, Documentary Editing offers unique and invaluable insights into the documentary editing process.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title
  3. Copyright
  4. Contents
  5. Acknowledgments
  6. Introduction: The Construction of Meaning in Documentaries
    1. Principles of Documentary Editing
    2. Your Documentary Editing Panel
  7. Part I Setting the Stage for a Successful Edit
    1. 1 Planning Your Schedule
      1. Documentary Schedules: How Many Weeks?
    2. 2 Organizing Your Footage
      1. Organizing the Files on the Hard Drive
      2. Bringing the Files into the NLE
      3. Run a Test
      4. Backing Up
      5. Organizing Footage
      6. Organizing Archival Material
      7. Alternate “Binning” Strategies
      8. Documents You Will Need
    3. 3 Everyday Work Practices
      1. Work in Stages
      2. Focus
      3. The Vital Importance of Taking Breaks
      4. Duplicate and Archive: Leaving a Trail of Breadcrumbs Behind You
      5. Scraps Sequences and Alternate Shots
      6. The Director–Editor Relationship: Working Together and Working Alone
  8. Part II Finding Patterns
    1. 4 Viewing and Digesting
    2. 5 Making Select Reels
      1. Creating Source-Based Select Reels
      2. Creating Topic-Based Select Reels
    3. 6 Refining Select Reels
      1. Drawing Initial Conclusions About Your Narrative from Your Select Reels
      2. A Fork in the Road
  9. Part IIIa Constructing and Refining Scenes
    1. 7 Evidentiary Editing: Building Interview-Based Scenes
      1. Constructing the Framework: Anchor with Audio
      2. Finding “Hinge Clips”
      3. Stitch Together the Seams with Cutaways
      4. Smoothing Edits
    2. 8 Verité Editing: Building Observational Scenes
      1. Build Up or Trim Down: Two Options for Finding “The Good Bits”
      2. Invisible or Self-Referential?
      3. Microbeats: Sculpting Human Behavior Onscreen
      4. Body Language
      5. Verité Cutaways
      6. Workarounds for Insufficient Cutaway Material
      7. Making Amalgam Scenes
      8. Integrating Audio from Unrelated Scenes
      9. Mixing Evidentiary and Verité Editing with the “Pop-in” Moment
    3. 9 Building Montages
      1. Media Montages
  10. Part IIIb Building the Rough Cut
    1. 10 Choosing and Framing Footage
      1. A Hierarchy of Experience
      2. A Hierarchy of Intervention
      3. The Limits of Verité
    2. 11 The Fundamentals of Narrative
      1. Characters
      2. Conflict
      3. Progression
      4. Other Ways of Constructing Progression
      5. Text and Subtext
      6. Experimentation
    3. 12 Working with Narrative
      1. The First Scene
      2. The Beginning
      3. The Middle
      4. Endings
      5. Reshoots
      6. Creating Meaning Through Association and Juxtaposition
      7. Alternative Approaches to Narrative
    4. 13 Working with Details
      1. Music
      2. Archival Material and Stock Shots
      3. Reenactments
      4. Graphics and Animations
      5. Lower Thirds
      6. Location Cards
      7. Subtitles
    5. 14 Working with Time
      1. Marking Time
      2. Rhythm
      3. Pacing
      4. Dynamics
      5. Pauses
      6. Transitions
  11. Part IV The Refining Process
    1. 15 Feedback and Revision
      1. Evaluating the Work and Taking Direction
      2. Why Hold a Rough Cut Screening?
      3. Tips for a Successful Rough Cut Screening
      4. Interpreting Notes
      5. Clarity Is King
      6. Trimming Scenes Down
      7. Cutting Scenes to Remove Redundancy
      8. Cutting Scenes to Improve Narrative or Emotional Logic
    2. 16 Fine Cut to Final Cut and Beyond
      1. Removing Unnecessary Pauses and Utterances
      2. Inspecting and Improving Cutaways
      3. Moving Backwards: Overcutting and How to Avoid It
      4. Picture Lock and Beyond
  12. Part V Seeing It All Come Together: Analyses of Four Films
    1. 17 Analyses of Two Feature Documentaries
      1. My Kid Could Paint That (2007)
      2. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
    2. 18 Analyses of Two Short Documentaries
      1. Skip (2011)
      2. Hotel 22 (2014)
  13. Appendix A: List of Films Cited
  14. Appendix B: Case Studies of Schedules for Feature Documentaries
  15. Appendix C: Documents You Will Need
  16. Index