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First What's and Why's

What is editing?

When editing a video program, you organize all the visual and sound elements you've recorded or gathered into a coherent narrative that unfolds in time. Whether you're creating a 30 second clip for the web or a full-blown documentary for your local cable access channel, the objective is basically the same: to forge a video program that communicates your message to the intended audience: your story, or your students's stories about what was experienced, discovered or learned; stories to share with fellow-professionals, fellow-students and the community.

Why editing?

Say you're videotaping a baseball game for use in a 8th grade class in physical science. You might shoot the entire game, start to finish, but chances are that unless the action is compelling throughout, you'll end up with a rather boring video.

What if you choose to shoot just the high points from different viewpoints? A wide-shot to establish the scene; a close up on the pitcher; a long shot of the ball arching over the field; a medium-shot of the catcher; a close-up of the scoreboard changing, and then the crowd cheering. After which you move to the lockers and tape a short interview with one player from each team, then the coaches for their reactions to the game.

Or say you're videotaping a demonstration in the laboratory or field. You want to capture a procedure that take a few minutes to unfold in "realtime," then condense the footage into a short movie lasting 30 seconds showing only the key steps. Below is a simple example of an edited movie show the key steps in launching a weather balloon.

Click on picture  for "Launch" movie.

Here is the log of shots from this movie: The in an outs times are off the original tape.


 Tape no.













Tilt down from sky to van


Med. Shot, scientist pulling balloon from truck, starting to inflate it


Close up- valve being turned (watch out for hissing sound keep it moderate)


Medium shot, still inflating balloon

As you see, we planned ahead and taped  the same action in each step from a different camera positions and/ or image size.

Then, to create a coherent program in the edit, one that engages the audience and flows, you'll need to

  • Combine shots taken from different viewpoints or times and exhibiting varying image sizes into a continuous, smooth sequence.
  • Juxtapose shots recorded in one space or time with other shots shot in a separate space or time.
  • Join highlights of the action together so as to omit unwanted footage, such as bad "takes" or parts of shots that detract from the main action.
  • Decide the duration of each shot and audio element when it begins, when it ends and what comes next

Plus perhaps you also want to incorporate some still images photographs or graphics created separately. Maybe you'll want to add some narration to help bring out the storyline. Or it's possible you'll want to add further sounds: a crowd cheering or a stream flowing over rocks; music to heighten the dramatic impact of your video.

 All this demands editing!



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