Some notes on video editing, capturing, and breathing room

My video editing work in one word: capture.

Capturing the essence. The tone, or mood, or vibe. The hard-to-explain. Je ne sais quoi – the qualities which can’t be described with words but only with motion, timing, emotion, drama, intensity.

Emotion. Drama. Intensity.

Quick, but not flashy. Exciting, but not like a Michael Bay movie.

Storytelling in video editing: the edit is the narrator. Not the editor, the edit. The harmony of typography, pacing, and design synthesize the story. Viewers should understand the point without being explicitly told the point. Make the viewers feel clever.

Watch this short clip from Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. No dialogue. And even if you haven’t seen the movie, you’ll feel it. Sofia Coppola is unafraid of giving her viewers a little breathing room. Room to breathe: in books and film, it’s a dying art. These days viewers are constantly asphyxiated by events. We gotta go, go go! Move, move, move! I say no! Sit there. Sit there and be quiet for a moment, just a moment, a minute of your time is all I ask.

Breathing room: How could this effect be possible in social media video? Nearly all social media videos are as claustrophobic as a trash compactor in space. My edits tend to be fast, but I try to avoid suffocating my audience no matter how time-crunched they may be.

Social media videos scream at us to “Get to the point! I don’t have all day!” So cut out all the empty space.

No empty space, no music. No empty space, no breath. No breath, no life.

I can’t jam-pack everything into a 30-second or 2-minute video. Only the important, essential stuff. Gotta give the audience time to explore, to let the project sink in. After-effects. How the audience feels after having watched it. That I can’t control.

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