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Shooting Documentary Short Films

Lesson 11 of 16

Editing: J & L Cuts

Griffin Hammond

Shooting Documentary Short Films

Griffin Hammond

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Lesson Info

11. Editing: J & L Cuts

Lesson Info

Editing: J & L Cuts

Here's what I want to talk about I think this is this is a big pet peeve of mine when I watch some some films some documentaries uh but it's such a simple thing let me uh let me pull in a clip from georgia quick I really haven't even looked at this yet through the whole thing all of george's interview right here let's see if we have anything good are making parts uh when they're done way have to bring him in here and take him apart to clean them because again let's pick a random area toe look at cut this molds that are making parts uh when you're done we have to bring him in here and take him apart to clean them so maybe let's say I want to cut out the moat that are making parts he says other important parts let's cut that weii done way have to bring him in here and take him apart like this is to we have to wait to bring him in here this is the kind of edits I'm making a lot of in fact I think more than some people that I work with I really hack up people's interviews I like to make hi...

m sound good I like to take out the arms I'd like to make things move pretty fast so I'll start with a rough at it that's like yeah this is the sentence I want but then I might go to town on surgery on this thing and just be like damn now I have an interview I did recently was like an hour long interview and I cut it down like five minutes and man everything that he said was like I'd let him get like two words here one were there it was really about that but what you could do is molds that are making parts we have to bring him in here and so that if you haven't seen one before is a jump cut the molds that are making parts we have to bring him in here and now what I do often when I'm doing the audio anything is I close my eyes because obviously that was very jarring at it that's what a jump cut is when you cut from one part of something to another it's slow something happened and generally were trying to be invisible editors so what I do is close my eyes and I was to it molds that are making parts we have to bring him in here and thinking and I decided I think that sounds just fine it's the visual that is telling me that's a terrible at it so now let's find a great piece of b roll to cover that up let's find something of him working here I'm gonna lower the nat sound on this I would like some net sound that something I do with uh b roll although you could make an argument that george's environment is so loud let's see parts we have to bring him in here not that loud we have to bring him in here, but maybe I don't want that back when I was well see, so this is why you have b roll because you want to do some crazy surgery on the interview, but you want to hide the fact that you've done it or at least you're not trying to lie to the audience, but you just want to make it visually pleasing and pretty so let's put this b roll right on top of that cut and here we go, molds that are making parts we have to bring him in here, okay, but that's, what I see a lot of and the easiest thing I think to do and I think the important documentary is to not cut audio and video at the same time it's a really simple principle called j cuts and l cuts and I'll show you what I'm talking about right now in timeline when you could see we have our video cut and our audio cut and they're right on top of each other and the audience I can see the cut, they can hear the cut and when they're together it's just like boom, whoa, you definitely cut there! I know on you want to kind of fake out the audience and say like, no, george actually was completely coherent and I just wanted to show you something else, so what I'll do is I could just move the b roll a little bit let's see what that looks like that are making parts it's still like on a word change let's move it somewhere else maybe right there mote holds that are making parts and it's a little softer the other thing I can do is I'll even do this sometimes if I know I'm gonna have a jump cut let's just give it the b roll are making parts we have sometimes I'm okay with jump cuts thanks to french new wave in the sixties jump cuts are ok the audience understands that that happens. What I can do though is in final cut I could pull up the audio separately and now I can make an audio added that's different from the video at it I could just it does bring in move this audio edit the audio is the bottom one and I'm moving it before the video that sounds like that are making part way have to move the video even more this is the kind of dramatic and I people don't always love this but it's it's one way for me just to like change the way a jump cut is that are making part way have to bring him in here it's kind of weird but I've done that sometimes like if a jump cut just feels really strange can I just have the video cut over here and have the audio cut over here? Of course it works a lot better with b roll but I'm always looking for opportunities to not show the audience where the yet it was let's put the b roll over here oh are sometimes I'll fake out you know maybe I have this audio cut here and I have the video cut here and let's actually bring in I don't want to jump cut but that's where we'll bring in the b roll the b roll can be a little bit late to the game the molds that are making part way have to break if you looked carefully he was out of sync for just a split second and you could hear him saying we do but I don't think it was that jarring like it's one way I could do that at it molds that are making part way have to bring him in the audio and it needs to be a little stronger probably do some cross fades in there too fix it but that's my point is just changing where the audio and video and it's such a simple thing but when I watch really amateur like narrative films the dialogue scenes are often like hello I am talking to you cut hello I'm talking to you to cut and you don't have to do that you can sit on the shot of this person while that person starts talking and you could do with music the music doesn't you know the music and start during the end of one sequence toe lead into the next sequence you could by doing these cuts your creating some interest some some drama to pull you in like what I'll do a lot of it is maybe the b roll shot actually let's go find that that nat sound break that I liked I could find it what's he was right after he washed this thing here it is let's put this in the timeline I like the nat sound break of him going perfect. Let me lower the audio of this thing making all that noise and now let's change where the video comes in I think I might have to close this all the way uh, I'm extending, changing me at it now but here we go molds that are making parts uh it's the simplest little editing thing but like that's how I believe I mean that's good document is right it is we don't need to like wait to see him to start hearing from him let's hear from him during the previous shot um and so the reason these air called j cuts and l cuts are because if you start from the video at it and go to on audio going this way that's a j and if you no it's this shot sorry, this is the video clip and this is the audio because with it we have a jake cut here and we have an l cut here, but really, I I don't even think you need to think of them as j r l cuts it doesn't really matter if it's before or after it's just the idea of don't cut audio and video at the same time. It's the best way to hide and edit and that's what we're doing here we're trying to create a seamless experience for our viewers and I like jnl cuts a lot as a way to speed things up like I really like this nat sound break I want to sit on it for a little bit, but I also know I don't want to then have to wait for for george to talk for five minutes so let me get some of that done here and I want to show you now an example of a whole bunch of jnl cuts back to back to expect I was gonna show you the trailer for sir raja this was a trailer that I worked on this on a plane I was flying so I think my second time in l a to go shoot the rest of the documentary and nbc news want to do a piece about it and they're like haiti of a trailer no not yet s so I really quickly edited one on the plane and I didn't even think it was that good feeling well, this is my first trailer but somebody feel have said they liked it and I kind of like I was wondering why do you like it so much like it's okay, son of old stuff in there I think it added something since but yeah, I think it's because of the jnl cuts I think it's all it is is people like that kind of editing it's fast paced it feels like just so much visual variety, so I just want you to pay attention to where audio and video cuts happen in this piece that they're not tied together it's kind of funny because I mean when it comes down to it a top sauce, right? But I've come pretty obsessed with it it's absolutely iconic and I think it completely unintentional re very distinct celeb see, I just love that bold flavors that young in almost everyone I love my father it has called following him but we were proud thank you for making the world's greatest sauce most people don't know where suraj came from, you need to go eat serrata wayne alone when I heard the whole story behind it is amazing story continue, my friend someday they don't like me. Oh, here, they don't think they're right someday until someday cut they don't like it was probably a very small gap. His face didn't move very much. It was probably just like for the speed of this piece, I can't have him going until someday they don't like just chop that out and it was okay didn't move that much, and I think sometimes jump cuts are fine. There are some edits in this trailer that air right on the sound, and it creates one one feeling like these girls. I think when she goes like that's, good or whatever, she says it's like right on the edit, I think that bold flavor almost it's, like I mean, you kind of feel that it's like she's there, so if I want that feeling, if I wanted, excite the audience and jar them into noticing what's going on that's one way, but there's a lot of people that I kind of let them talk over each other it's absolutely iconic on and I think it completely unintentional re very randy's talking before because part of this I like jet tila, I want to see his face. For long enough already covered him with b roll for the first half I need to spend some time on his face I like him but I also know that pace wise I need to get to randy talking quick so why would I steal some time from randy and give some time to jet attention re very distinct he's used to it like that like intentional re there he's looking at and us like what's going on very distinct syllable she starts talking before he I mean that was just kind of like the formula of this piece was like let's get her in there before we get off randy let's get someone in there before we get off her and come I think it's it's part of my frenetic energy of editing but I like it on I feel like it's the easiest way for me teo to make it a little bit more interesting uh to hide those that it's so jnl cuts do them also like you helped me make this faster I mean I like is a trailer I know I needed to make it like a minute and a half like if I want to get everything across in ninety seconds or whatever it is I have to do that and when we think about short films and entering them into festivals the shorter you can make your stuff the more likely it's going to get into a festival so clean it up, make it tight, make it fast, and people will be excited by it, and it'll fit into the programme of film festival. Better, though, they're more likely to program your one minute short film that tells that full a part story circle, then you're five minute film that doesn't buy thirty three minute film. I don't know why I got into anything, because that is a terrible length. First, a short documentary, um, but the tighter could be, I mean, that's. Why I did make a feature out of it. I just wanted to be fast and flood.

Class Description

Today’s media landscape is largely made up of regular folks who know how to spot a good story and use basic gear to document the world around them. Find out how you can join their ranks and make compelling, marketable shorts in Shooting Documentary Short Films with Griffin Hammond. 

Griffin made a name for himself with the ode to an iconic hot sauce, Sriracha. In this class, he’ll teach you how to identify, shoot, and share documentary-style video. 

You’ll learn how to:

  • Recognize and tell a good story
  • Capture high-caliber footage with low-budget gear 
  • Incorporate all the essentials for online and TV news
  • Produce corporate work clients love
  • Find your audience and monetize your work

Griffin will share tips on lighting, framing, and interviewing subjects so you walk away with lots of usable footage. You’ll watch as Griffin shares clips from a one-day shoot and you’ll learn exactly what it takes to turnaround a complete documentary-style short on a deadline.

You’ll also learn a handful of helpful editing techniques and get insights on the ethical and legal responsibilities of documentary filmmaking.

If you want to learn how to tell meaningful stories that look great and sell, while working on a shoestring budget, don’t miss Shooting Documentary Short Films with Griffin Hammond. 


Bruce Gruenbaum

First off, if you have not watched Sriracha, go and do that. The techniques that Griffin used in it are pretty incredible. This course expands on those techniques and what really surprised me about this course is how simple the setup is that he uses to make some absolutely amazing documentaries. The quality of what you can produce with the most basic of equipment is really mind-boggling. Some of the most interesting stuff was about B-Roll and how to use it to create a visually interesting presentation. The idea of a lot of small clips that show specific information is invaluable. The techniques he uses to create shots like the one where the camera was placed on top of a cart and pushed down an aisle was amazing. More than anything else, the ideas and tips I came away with have helped me find ways of making my own videos much more interesting.

a Creativelive Student

Griffin is a great storyteller and I was hoping to learn a LOT from this class. But I didn't. I'm an experienced corporate video editor/shooter who's always dreamed of doing a documentary. About half of the class is the very basics of video production (b-roll, rule of thirds, good audio) and the other half is interesting content that seems to cut off just as it becomes engaging. I'm not sure why Creative Live edited it that way other than to extend the number of segments? Although the next segment doesn't seem to pick up where the previous left off. I've never felt that way before about CL, but it seems like every segment is cut right as it gets to things I'm interested in. It did have some great information about revenue streams for a short form documentary, but I was left wanting to learn more. If you're just starting out... this is a great resource to learn the basics of non-fiction filming. If you already work professionally in the field I would pass.

Tim Greig

This is brilliant. Griffin is such a generous, self-deprecating filmmaker you just can't help but love him. He goes into great detail on just how he makes his documentaries and other work and is so inspiring, mostly because he is a one-man band and produces such interesting and wonderful videos. Thank you Griffin and CreativeLive for offering this.