Once you’re in that post-production stage you’ll be able to take scenes that seem boring and innocuous and add more to take them to a new level of interest. Consider an average scene with two characters chatting in a bar about who they are going to invite to the next event. A girl, Sarah, is mentioned, with one girl stating that she’ll call Sarah to invite her.

Film cutThis doesn’t amount to much but with the proper editing you can make it sing. Let’s call the two girls chattering Anne, and Becky. We have interview clips from each of them stating different reasons why no one on the show likes the other.

For Anne, it’s because she’s a controlling person who has to have things her way, for Becky it’s that she apparently doesn’t realize she just drives people nuts. So now we insert a couple of these bits in between the dialog. We have an aside where Anne says ‘Yuck’ in reference to Sarah being invited. Now when Anne leaves and Becky goes ahead and invites Sarah anyway the situation is more intense, and we’re left wondering how soon one will get the other kicked off.

Now this isn’t always recommended as it’s a bit on the heavy side of editing, however if it’s something you don’t mind it may up the show’s ratings. Consider a good rule of thumb that if it’s not cut to show something said that wasn’t or if it’s still in keeping with the character it might be worth considering.

What Is a Stringout?

This is dialogue and scene work that is in loose arrangement, also referred to as B-roll. Editors will use this often as a jumping off point or foundation for the work they intend to do.  There are a few ways this is created. Some make it as a ‘paper cut’ and then Assistant Editors will do the final assemble of a stringout that the actual Editor can go through. It can also be done without the Assistant Editors and instead using an actual system like Final Cut Pro or Avid

Paper Cut: Your Initial Option.

Though there have been many changes made and companies have worked hard to give a Story Producer systems like Avid and Final Cut Pro to string out their material before handing it in, there are still some who prefer the ‘paper cuts.’ These Story Producers want edits that are script like executed so they can then pass them on to their Assistant Editor for an assembly. It’s possible that from each different job you may be asked to format differently.

When Creating These

Begin each of your clips with the tape source number. These may look like 113111B01. These numbers would indicate that the date was November 31, 2011 and that Camera B was used and out of all the tapes that came out of that camera this was the first one for that day. It will also be followed by a time code. These codes are the ones that the Assistant Editor will mostly be concerned with when working through the stringout.

One of the biggest details you want to keep an eye on is the time. It will really tick an Editor off if they receive a stringout for a six minute segment that’s actually close to 40 minutes or more. Keep logs going on the times you have involved, so you are able to accurately give them what they need.

Generally speaking, end times aren’t usually included because when you have the stringout it’s quite literal and the time will be basically obvious to see where it begins and ends. This isn’t as easy when you’re working with action that is in-scene. If there is an interview session that has a strange face or gesture at the end you might like to add an end time just to be sure this is included but in most cases no. If there is a line or more you’d like cut then simply place it apart with a slash that is forward or a strike through it. This will allow your Editor to easily see it and make the cut.

When working with the older technique of paper-cut then make sure you have given a copy of it to the Editor, even if they are going to be primarily working with the stringout. With more people in the project its best that everyone sees what everyone’s intent is so they can easily collaborate.

If you’re working with voice-overs it can be easy to get over-wordy, witty and flowery in your language. Stay simple and your viewers will appreciate you for it. Your voice over shouldn’t be used to make up for the content you have or to clear away the clutter, this is where good editing comes in. You should only use it to fill blanks, or guide viewers or set up scenes.

Final Cut Pro Or Avid Stringout

Of The CutIf you haven’t learned to work seamlessly with Avid or Final Cut Pro your job opportunities out there are going to be in jeopardy. The way reality TV works has so much cutting and editing that there is a real need for these technological advances. If you don’t know anyone who’s able to help you get started so you can learn it on your own time it will really pay off if you take a course or two at a local community college.

Some of the benefits of these programs are:

  • Working at a faster pace and seeing the story come together (or not) more quickly.
  • Seeing what’s going to or not going to work from grouped material sources (all camera angles able to be viewed on split-screens)
  • You can easily showcase how you’d like the end product to be.

Keep in mind when working through the stringout that you aren’t an Editor. It shouldn’t have all the fancy stuff like complex cuts, or dissolves. It’s only there to represent the story line to the Editor who will then make it the pleasing show we see.

There are tools in the editing system that will allow you to make ‘cards’ where you can drop those scenes like the interviews where you think they should be. You can also use features for notes or locators.

When it comes to voice-overs with these systems you’ll want to provide the Editor with a copy so they can have it in temporarily. A final tip is to keep all material you’re not using easily at hand. It will save you time when asked by your superiors why something was junked.

Acts Should Break Intentionally

Viewers channel surf when you’re on commercial break. Because of this you want to break on a note that will leave them eagerly anticipating coming back. It’s good to break in the middle of a critical moment only to return to it when the break ends.  You can also use teasers. These are where you end a break with a tease of the next dramatic moment so they want to make sure to come back to see what happens then.

Not-So Rough Cuts

With reality TV your rough cuts are going to look a lot like the final product. It’s good to make sure everyone settling in is expecting the same thing. Did they like the outline you sent, or more importantly-did they understand it? Now it’s time to get it rolling and back off. No one wants you around while they talk about the work, so give them some space.

Final Product

Once you are out, the room will likely give creative feedback, take notes and think about what the end product will look like. It will head out to the network for their input. Once all this is said and done you and the editor will go over all the notes and polish it while attempting to make it fit into your timeslot perfectly. Congrats- you are ready for air time!