I’m in the middle of editing a video that combines an artist interview with event footage. The supplied raw material is 10 minutes of interview footage and 45 minutes of the event, shot from a single camera. From that footage I was able to extract 5 minutes of usable interview, but just 40 seconds of the gig. It’s not that the gig video was badly shot, it was just homogenous. Medium-long shot of people dancing. Medium shot of the DJ. Over the shoulder shot of the DJ. Medium shot of girls dancing. Repeat.
This is sad, because a single camera and half an hour is plenty of time to capture a dynamic performance. The secret sauce? Close ups.
I shot this video for my friends/collaborators Segue at last year’s Big Day Out. Two days before the show, the festival organizers told us that we wouldn’t be able to do our own visuals for the set, so it was decided that I’d be camera guy instead, with an eye to getting footage for a live or studio video. I’m not much of a videographer – I keep forgetting whether clockwise zooms in or out – but I’ve spent a lot of time editing video, so I’m generally able to cover dodgy shooting with edits.
For that to work however, continuity needs to be maintained. In the above video, I’ve taken great care to ensure that continuity of action is held between cuts. If there’s a medium shot of an artist drinking water, or putting on his headphones, then the following closeup will show him putting down the bottle, or mixing with headphones in place. The footage may have been cut from 20 minutes earlier in the set, but because I got plenty of closeup footage, there’s no need for continuity to be kept across the entire stage, just on the detail that’s in focus.
This was a very time-consuming process, taking about 9 hours to turn 50 minutes of footage into a 7 minute edit. To show the band why it took so long and how I achieved the final result, I created a two-up video, which displays the final edit on top, and the live camera feed below. I’d previously kept this edit private, to maintain the mystery for the band, but I think it’s worth revealing to show what’s possible if you give yourself plenty of shot variation to play with:
Obviously the setting really helps here – thousands of kids jumping around can’t help but be exciting – but even if the source footage isn’t epic, with your non-linear editor and enough closeups, you can make it look that way.