This week I finally got around to editing some footage I shot at SXSW this past year in Austin, Texas. I imported all of my clips into Premiere and began the laborious process of sorting, organizing, and cutting in and out points for all of the clips I wanted to use. Then I laid down a music track to cut against and around this time is where all the fun ended.
As I began to lay down cuts to the beat, I realized a few things. First, my overage, although much improved from prior shoots, did not contain enough live music content or at least enough variety to play out well in the edit. Secondly, I found myself spending hours trying to select a music track only to pick one I liked initially, editing it for hours, and deciding later it wasn’t right. I haven’t given up yet but like an oasis in the desert, I came across this YouTube video by TravelFeels explaining in detail a few key ways to step up your game when it comes to making epic video edits.
Based out of Canada, TravelFeels is a channel dedicated to travel inspiration and documenting those travels along the way. In his latest post, he puts together a short film of his friend preparing for, and executing, a rail skate in the city. Sounds simple enough but the manner in which he captures the footage to tell the story is why it ends up with an epic, cinematic look. It also reinforces his key point which is being cognizant of coverage while filming.
The topic of coverage is somewhat broad but tends to focus on the types of shots you are getting and their variety. For example, in the video he films his friends’ walk to the rail, his preparation beforehand including getting his skates out and sanding the rail, the actual grind on the rail, and finally his friend’s elation at having successfully skated the rail. All key scenes that when edited together, tell a complete story. Had he simply shot the actual skating of the rail we would have been left wondering several details such as who, what, and where is this person and what is he doing?
Even more importantly, however, are the types of shots he was covering at each stage of the filming such as wide, medium, and close ups. By using a wide shot of his friend approaching the rail, the audience gains an understanding of where this subject is in relation to his surroundings, what he looks like, what he is carrying, and so on. He does this from several angles including back, front, left, and even foot level so we have a three-dimensional perspective of the scene. At the same time, he also films up close so we can see his friend’s face and the look of tension in his eyes as he prepares for the skate. Shooting close brings an intimacy to the scene that draws you into the mindset of the subject and the emotions they might be feeling in that very moment. He follows this pattern throughout the entirety of the sequence being sure to shoot wide, medium, and close up shots at every stage so when it comes time to edit, he has sufficient coverage to create a unique and comprehensive video.
What I found particularly interesting is that here we have a topic as simple as a friend going to skate a rail and yet, by making sure to shoot continuously, varied, and with an end goal in mind, you can create a very interesting cinematic sequence in as little as a day. Food for thought and personally speaking, inspiration to continue moving forward and improving in my own career.
Check out the video and find more all-around great advice on the TravelFeels YouTube channel.