Here’s the place I’ve been spending a lot of time, lately: my video editor.
I edit using a program now called Sony Vegas; I am not a fan of Sony and their practices in the areas of copy protection and manipulation of law, but the fact remains that for the moment, Vegas is still an excellent program, the product of a group called Madison Software who created a number of excellent programs for sound and video before being absorbed a few years back. Sony has unfortunately made the software progressively hostile to anyone not using Sony equipment but generally has allowed the program to be what it always was: shockingly easy to use, slick to be creative in, and best of all, fast.
I generally don’t encourage people to edit like I do, but it works for me. I’ve read a lot on how various filmmakers have done movies and the fact is that everyone does things slightly differently, but for me, I have built this methodical process that takes a lot of time on the front end but then allows me very fast freedom at the end.
With over 120 hours of recorded interviews, it is cost prohibitive for me to keep all the footage around on drives. (It would take, roughly, 29 terabytes of disk space to keep it all “live”). There’s some great trickery out there where you make a much smaller version of footage, edit with THAT, and then at the end attach drives as you go to pull in all the stuff you need; I find that hopelessly cumbersome. So, instead I do something else cumbersome: I watch all the footage, and re-render out lossless clips with names indicating what the file contains. This is what’s in the upper corner of the screenshot. (You can also make out that I add rough ratings to clips like KEEPER, ABSOLUTE KEEPER and so on, just as a little note to myself down the line.)
After months of effort, I end up with about 4,000 clips, probably totalling 40-50 hours, out of the original 120 (the rest is setting up, me asking questions, answers where the answers is essentially “I don’t know”, and so on). From this I split them down further into groupings of discussion – I know, for example, that very little about a specific product will end up in another section about historical items far predating that object.
Somewhere in here is an undefinable quality, where I remember someone said something relevant, even though there’s no other indication they did in the description or the subject. Other times, I bump a bunch of people together saying the same thing, and then choose the best example. And even more fun are sequences where I can get 2-3 people discussing the same subject from different distinct angles. Those are fun to find and to watch.
If this sounds long and tedious, you’re half-right. It’s definitely long, but it’s never tedious. I love going through footage, remembering the journey to get that shot, the questions I asked, the meals and sights I saw on that trip. And when it just clicks up against another clip shot months or years apart, I just love watching things flow.
Again, my approach isn’t for everyone. But it works for me.