Edit the film.

We have all the pieces – now it’s time to put them all together!

Use a commercial editing program to assemble our footage into a coherent film on my computer. Remove everything that doesn’t logically fit into the theme of our film – for instance, I might remove the parts of my interviews that don’t directly deal with our film’s topic. Take my time during the editing process – allow myself plenty of time to get it just right. When I think I am done, sleep on it, then watch the entire film again and make any other edits I think are necessary.

  • Make our film as lean as possible, but be the director to work with a reasonable and ethical editor. For instance, if, while filming, I encountered strong evidence that goes against our film’s viewpoint, it’s a little disingenuous to pretend it doesn’t exist. Instead, modify the message of our film or, better yet, find a new counter-argument!

Do a screening.

After I’ve edited the film, I’ll probably want to share it. After all, films were meant to be watched! Show our movie to my friends, or someone else whose opinion I trust. Then market our project as broadly as possible. Have a public screening rent, beg or borrow a venue to allow audiences to enjoy our work.

  • Get as many people involved as possible. For every person involved in our project, it translates to two people in the audience for the screening or to buy our documentary.
  • Send our documentary out to festivals but choose fests carefully.
  • Be prepared to get honest feedback. Ask our viewer(s) to review our movie. Tell them not to sugarcoat it -I want to know exactly what they liked and what they didn’t like. According to what they tell me, I may choose go back to editing and fix what needs to be fixed. This can potentially (but not necessarily) mean re-shooting footage or adding new scenes.
  • Get used to rejection and toughen up. After investing countless hours in my documentary, I  expect audiences to react and respond. Don’t be disappointed if they aren’t “over the moon” about my project; we tend live in a media-consumptive world today and audiences have high expectations and low tolerance.

Week 9

Post Production

So here you are.

I’ve shot all  footage and  now ready to sit myself down in front of my computer and start making magic. I need to organize it in an order that is interesting, coherent, and will keep the viewers’ attention. Make a detailed shot-by-shot outline to guide the editing process. Provide a coherent narrative for the audience to follow that proves your viewpoint. Decide which footage will go at the beginning, which will go in the middle, which will go at the end, and which won’t go in the film at all. Showcase the most interesting footage, while cutting anything that seems meandering, boring, or pointless.

Here’s my post-production check-list:

    • Log tapes, examine & study footage
    • Create a script – I’ve written up a whole page just on this topic
    • Choose  music: research music libraries, work with a composer or look into purchasing copyrighted materials like a pop song
    • Edit your documentary – click here for a step by step editing guide
    • Strategize on a distribution and marketing plan for my film
    • Check all the legal stuff to make sure I won’t get


Shoot dramatic recreations.

If there’s no real-life footage of an event my documentary discusses, it’s acceptable to use actors to re-create the event for my camera, provided the recreation is informed by real-world fact and it’s perfectly clear to the audience that the footage is a recreation. Be reasonable with what the film as a dramatic recreation – make sure that whatever you commit to film is grounded in reality.

  • Sometimes, dramatic recreations will obscure the actors’ faces. This is because it can be jarring for an audience to see an actor portray a real-world person in a film that also contains real footage of him or her.
  • I may want to film or edit this footage in a way that gives it a visual style distinct from the rest of my film (for instance, by muting the color palette). This way, it’s easy for  audience to tell which footage is “real” and which is a recreation.

Interactive storytelling

A story can be told through several ways, and nowadays one of the most popular and also more interactive ways is digital storytelling.

Sound of my voice

This film left audience with a good interaction and the audience deeply soaked in the rhythm of the film. The visual design of the film presents the scenes from angle of the first person, and the light in this clip brought audience to a suspicious story. The functionality of the film linked interactive points that impress audience and make them get involved in the story. The structure of the film presents a meaningful and logical story which led audience to a suspicious world. The audience can get the interesting stories around the world by simply clicking the hints.Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 12.28.59 am

It’s like a jungle sometimes

To be frank, I like the way of storytelling in this film that presents the most common issues in a humorous style. There are three parts in this story, comprised of six short videos which are performed vividly by three ‘animals’. Compare with people actors in a film, animal characters are more attractive and amusing.

The visual design in this story is very distinctive and creative since people live as normal but with costumes on the body, which brought a lot of funny elements into the story and I am deeply impressed by the visual design of this film. The functionality of the film gave audience a strong sense of humour. The producer posted each character’s social media link on the website where audience can chat with characters directly online. The structure of the story presents people’s normal life with a unique way on the screen. And the story tells that people should find a way to vent the pressure from daily life and don’t hide in a sheath. Sometimes, people should think of the society as a jungle and we play different roles of animals.

Planet of money makes A T-shirt

I really enjoyed the way of storytelling in this project. It included few videos and articles all in one web entry. The visual design of this story is quite simple and clear, which by using black and white as the main colours, and also formal words format. The functions are also very easily controlled by viewers. The whole page is clearly classified into three parts, which are the video on the top; texts above; then the chapters categories.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 12.37.55 am

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 12.37.22 am

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 12.39.37 am

The structure of this work include three parts. It leads us to watch the video first, and then allow us to read the article for exploring more information about the topic in the video. After finish the reading it guides us to go to the next chapter to watch another video. The viewers can also randomly choose a certain chapter they would like to watch. But I think all the people will watch them in order, due to the storytelling is listed with a process of making a T-shirt. We all wear T-shirt all the time, but not many of us have considered how they have been made. This interactive storytelling work has provided us a change to view the whole process with a very effective way.


Film B-roll.

In addition to establishing shots, I’ll also want to get secondary footage called “B-roll” – this can be footage of important objects, interesting processes, or stock footage of historical events. B-roll is important for maintaining the visual fluidity of our documentary and ensuring a brisk pace, as it allows me to keep the film visually active even as the audio lingers on one person’s speech.

  • In our documentary, I’d want to collect as much Story-related B-roll as possible – glamorous close-ups  as well as footage of the story in motion.
  • B-roll is especially important if our documentary will make use of extensive voiceover narration. Since I can’t play the narration over interview footage without keeping the audience from hearing what my subject is saying, I’ll usually lay the voiceover over short stretches of B-roll. I can also use B-roll to mask the flaws in interviews that didn’t go perfectly. For instance, if my subject had a coughing fit in the middle of an otherwise great interview, during the editing process, I can cut the coughing fit out, then set the audio of the interview to B-roll footage, masking the cut.

Case Studies

Here are two examples of projects where I utilize that narrative storytelling license. (It’s rather apropos that both happen to involve my daughter who as of this writing just went off to college).

Mixed in America

This is a personal project I’ve been slowly developing over the past two years. I want to tell the stories of biracial people, but do it in such a way where it feels completely like a scripted film. You will never see the interviewee. In fact, I purposefully recorded audio-only interviews with the subjects, thereby requiring all the visuals to be narrative and metaphorical re-enactments. Here’s the trailer for the first episode (still in production).

The Creative Process

This documentary short film was for a commercial client that provides B2C tools and community resources for professional photographers. This was part of the keynote address their new CEO gave at their annual conference that year. In it I interview four, non-photographer artists to talk about the creative process. Interwoven throughout is traditional b-roll, but also a narrative story of a teen girl writing a song she got in a dream.

Documentaries represent one of the most important and significant art forms of this and last century. They have the power to change the world. As makers of this medium, we should always strive to make their impact on the audience all the more powerful.  Utilizing cinematic techniques is one way to do that.