Shooting for the Edit

May 3, 2013

Chris Lavigne


Shooting for the edit is a technique that you can use during production to make your post-production process more efficient (and pleasant). It’s a pretty simple concept, really. It’s all about keeping in mind how you’re going to edit your footage in the near future while you shoot. In other words, plan ahead and be kind to your post-production self.

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Cut down on the amount of unusable footage

Sifting through minutes (or hours) of sub-par footage gets old fast, and it can definitely take up precious time. To save yourself time in the edit, make sure to:

  1. Have your subjects rehearse their lines or actions like they mean it. A table read can help!
  2. Make sure that everything is in focus and well-lit.
  3. Double-check that the camera is stabilized.

These are all steps that you should take before you ever press record. If you can make sure that these things are in place, the footage you’re working with will all be usable on a basic level.

Prevent potential editing roadblocks

After you’ve wrapped up production and moved on to editing, it can be pretty difficult to recreate aesthetic details — lights, camera position, etc. It’s better to avoid having to go back to capture a shot, if you can. Here are some tips to keep your momentum going forward:

Leave a buffer at the beginning and end of each clip. A silent 3-second count will do the trick.

Mark your best takes by covering the lens with your hand. When you’re scanning through your footage, you’ll notice the dark frames and know that the footage directly before them is your team’s finest work. Do another take for safety. Once you’ve gotten a great take, do one more! This will give you an option in the edit just in case something from the good take doesn’t jive.

Shoot B-roll footage

If you consider A-roll to be the narrative of the video, B-roll is the additional footage that supplements the story and drives the piece visually. If you’re shooting a basic talking head video, any shot that changes things up (a close up of the speaker’s hands gesturing, a shot from a side-angle, or a shot of a related office scene) could serve as B-roll for your video.

B-roll helps to diversify the shots in a video and tell a compelling visual story. Bonus: It can also help you hide edits. In other words, if you’re splicing together two straight-on shots of a subject talking, you can use B-roll to make the transition feel smooth.

Planning for where you’re going to use B-roll in the script can save loads of time. If you know you’re going to be showing B-roll in a particular section, your subject can read right off of the script and not have to memorize and recite the line to the camera. Talk about low pressure!

Be decisive

You definitely don’t have to make every editing decision before you start shooting, but a little advanced planning can go a long way. Your post-production self will thank you!

May 3, 2013

Chris Lavigne


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