Your students rush back from a shoot, all fired up to edit their awesome story. They shot great visuals. Some really cool stuff. Recorded some sweet natural sound. They even remembered to get all those specialty shots you taught them, like “reflection,” “backlit,” “door frame,” and a few you hadn’t even mentioned.
So let the editing begin! But first…no visuals.
That’s right, the best way to build a story is by editing audio first. The soundbites. In fact, the story only happens if the script and sound bites weave together and present a coherent beginning, middle, and end.
Inexperienced students will always want to jump in and drag all their cool shots onto the timeline. But please save the visuals for the last step in the editing process. As you start to build your story, you need to think about what the viewer will hear. This includes the script, or voiceovers, and your soundbites. You can also count the reporter’s stand-up, if you use one, as part of the sound of the story.
Shoot. Write. Edit. But edit AUDIO first.
This takes discipline because most young broadcast students want to manipulate images. They certainly do not want to write. Sifting through interviews is also time-consuming.
Writing for broadcast is a craft that takes a lot of practice to perfect. And the reality is, many teachers in charge of broadcast classes have little or no experience writing for TV. So it is hard for them to lay down the law about writing stories, with the sound bites in mind, at the beginning of the editing process.
But once you do it—once you sequence sound bites as you write your script, and your HEAR a really strong story, then it is really fun to finish up by adding those cool pictures to make it even better.
Tip for Teachers: If your students want you to watch their story when they are done, turn your back and listen to it first. Don’t even look at the video. This is a great way to see if they have created a story that makes sense, with a clear beginning, middle and end. Trust me, they will get the message.