I often underestimate myself as a freelance video editor, because I know so many amazing editors out there, but I have to say, editing video interviews is 'my thing.' It's the part of the job that gets me revved up because it's the most challenging and most rewarding. There are plenty of editors out there that have the technical skills, but what makes an editor great is being able to find the heart of the story and tell it well.
Even if you don't have all of the technical knowledge yet, or know all of the hotkeys in Premiere, that's okay—you can still succeed in locating and crafting that perfect video for your client, business or social channel. Interviews are tough, because often times you have WAY more content than you need, and sometimes, you don't have EXACTLY what you need. The first step is to let go of the script... to a certain extent. If the interview went way south, it might be worth it to re-shoot or at least, try to schedule an audio interview and get the remaining talking points that you need. Often times, though, you will have more than enough to work with, and you will need to look beyond the script to find the heart of the story. It could lie somewhere you aren't expecting.
Listen through the whole interview. Really listen. I like to make cuts at the beginning of each question, and put markers with a quick note about what is being said. This will make it easier to go back through later. Ideally, you want to stage your interviews so that the person being interviewed states the question in their answer. Unless this is something informal, or in a raw documentary style, you should not include the interviewer's questions. Listen to the tone of their voice, watch their body language. When does their emotional body shine through? When do they get excited, pumped, sombre, determined, or awe-struck? These are the moments you want to put markers on. When there is a section that stands out to me, I usually drag it to the video track above, V2, and with the really amazing one-liners, I drag them to V3.
Perfectionism can have it's play time when you are trimming and nit-picking in the final stages, but when you are starting out with the weave, you want to make sure you have all of your major talking points lined up, even if they are longer sections. Just like with any craft, the more editing you do, the quicker and more effectively you will be able to pluck out the 'heart' from the excess tissue.
Once you have all the sections you want dragged up to V2 and V3, copy and paste them into the timeline after the interview or create a new selects sequence. Delete the spaces and now it's time to trim. And trim. And trim some more. If you feel stuck, it's worth it to take a 10-20 minute break and come back to it with fresh eyes and ears. Many times we get attached to certain things, either because it interests us personally or because we've decided we NEED it. A lot of the things you think you need, you probably don't. The best videos get the point across fast and with only the most necessary context. If you can cut out the person saying their name and company and put in a lower third instead, do it. If you can cut out some of the back story, do it. Many times I find that the heart of the interview lies near the end. It's those final thoughts and ah-ha moments that the interviewee says once they've gotten warmed up that will make the cut.
There will be times where the interviewee says something fantastic and it's a quick few cuts to piece it together, and there are other times when you will need to do intricate surgery and splice in a word or opening phrase from a different section of the interview. This is when control shift D (premiere hotkey for audio transitions) is your friend. You want the transition to be about 2 frames. Splicing a single word or short phrase works <50% of the time. If it sounds awkward, don't do it. Try something else. You want to try to match the intonation in the voice and not just the word. You also want to try to have some natural space between the cuts, either by splicing in room tone or with audio transitions. This can get tedious and if it doesn't work after awhile, try to move on— there's probably another solution.
Here's a recent video I edited for Exposure Lab's, Unstoppable Schools Project that I will dissect in the next paragraph, outlining how piece together an amazing story structure.
This video effectively gets to the heart of the story through A) Context. Viewers need to know where they are, what the product, service, or program is about B) A hook line. Something that interests people right away. In this video it is the student testimonials about how the film, Chasing Coral, impacted them. C) Flesh. Viewers crave insider details. What makes this so special? Who is behind the scenes? In this video, the teacher's testimonials give the details about why this program has been so awesome. D) Emotional kickers. You always want a video to ramp up and stir emotion in viewers. Think action in the audio (words and music) and the images (b-roll). What is the product, service or program doing for consumers? What is taking place in the world because of this awesome thing? E) Call to action. You always want to think about what you want viewers to do or feel after they've watched the video. What's the call to action or the bigger impact of this product, service or program? In this video, the ending shows students engaging in their communities and the interviewee provides a hope for the future of the program and beyond.
I wish you the best on your next video adventure. Remember, don't just tell a story, tell a great story that inspires viewers to take action—whether that's going out to vote, clicking 'follow' on social media, trying a new product, or simply watching another video!