Teaching Examples

Editing video: Faster than a slideshow
August 2, 2006, 2:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Last night I had dinner with a group of people who make multimedia journalism, most of them from the San Francisco area. I had the good luck to talk at length with Dai Sugano, a photographer (see gallery) at the San Jose Mercury News who has made the leap to video and completely loves it. (See the Merc’s recent video of the Grand Prix.)

So at one point Dai says it’s much faster to edit video than it is to edit a slideshow. Skeptical, I asked: Even with the capture time from the DV tape? Yes, he said. I asked: Even if someone else shot the video? Well, no. But if he shot it, yes.

Okay, why does editing a slideshow take so much longer? More layers of editing, basically. Because of the captions. The writing and fact checking and editing of the caption text takes a looong time! Yes, editing the audio takes time, and doing the photo edit takes time, but it’s those captions that really drive up the time needed to upload to the site. Hmmm …

Then he told me an even more interesting thing about video: He plans almost everything before he even goes out to shoot. In his head. He thinks about whom he might interview, where he might go, what visuals and audio might work. So then the shooting doesn’t take very long at all. And the editing time is really cut down because he’s already conceptualized the story.

But what might he be missing that way? I asked. If he decides in advance that he’s going to interview the mother of a dead child, and he won’t interview the police officer who investigated, or any other people involved — only the mother — he doesn’t know what he might have gotten if he spoke to the others.

Well, that’s true, he admitted calmly. But this is more about the feeling and the story than it is about trying to tell everything and get all the facts. You can do that in other ways — in the text, for example.

In other words, he doesn’t preconceive the story with the purpose of shaving minutes off the editing time. That’s just a happy by-product of Dai’s work process.

It’s like what you go after when you’re shooting still photography, he said. You want that moment, that single shot, that captures the essence of the story, the core of it. That’s what he wants to do with his video too. But now it moves, and people speak, and there’s the natural sound from the scene too. His goal, however, is still the same.

I liked thinking about this. It reminded me of some stunning photo stories I have seen, where you realize the photographer became such an intimate part of people’s lives, they forgot that the photographer was there. That’s when they get those fantastic images that make a lump swell in my throat — images that tell a story that a thousand words can never tell.

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