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Shooting Documentary Short Films

Lesson 10 of 16

Organizing Your B-Roll

Griffin Hammond

Shooting Documentary Short Films

Griffin Hammond

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Lesson Info

10. Organizing Your B-Roll

Lesson Info

Organizing Your B-Roll

So we went into this project thinking maybe it's a five minute film that informed how long my interviews would be about five, ten minutes, ended up being fifteen I think an interview kind of has to be maybe ten, fifteen minutes, just because it's going to take you that long just for anyone to answer any questions, even if you know you're going to use them for four seconds, like they're probably gonna talk that long, they talk too long, but, uh, come on. I know that that's that's me plenty material for my for the peace, the b roll. I know I'm gonna need so much of it because a sot I can sit on it for five seconds. Ten seconds, maybe twenty seconds. But one of these b roll shots I normally I wanted, like, second that's, just my style. So I ended up getting one hundred and seventeen shots yesterday for what I consider a five minute piece and I do this because when I was a student learning news for the first time, I think we all have to go through this to figure this out. I went on a shoot...

. You know, I got my interview a got what I thought was plenty of b roll, maybe. Five shots I don't know what I got and you come back and you start editing and by the time you cut out the part of the shot that was really bad and you hold it for ten seconds and then you realize while these two shots a kind of samson, I'm gonna use that one then you have, like three shots that lasts twenty seconds to cover your one minute story like you realize that is just not enough at all like you really need a lot of material. So like I said, I had thirty two hours of footage to make a thirty three minute film called serrata, and that was that felt like a comfortable amount. It didn't feel like I left a lot on the cutting room floor. Uh, I wasn't starved for footage, although occasionally there's places in the film where I was like, man, I wish I had gotten more of that uh, and I think this is probably inappropriate amount this's two hours and sixteen minutes of footage for a five minute piece, I probably don't need that much if I could have gotten by with an hour. Some of it is that I love factories and there's so much cool moving stuff and I could just stay there for days I was in the garage a factory for, like, three days and eventually I found myself just going okay, you got enough? Like you can stop now I know this is fun, but there's only so many times I can try the same shot over and over and over again until I've hit that law of diminishing returns. I'm no longer getting good stuff out of it, but the beauty of this is I have so many choices now is an editor and I know I can have a lot of fun my the point of my p I mean, the goal of most my pieces is I just want to be interesting and fun to watch and having this many shots will let me get that energy that I want um and let me show off my most fun shots. So once I bring all this stuff in, I'm organizing it by in final cut you could do keogh like tags for it. So all this tag things like this is my sod this is my b roll. This is my nat sound break. I think I've actually what have I done here? Tag things as bad news. I picked up the shots that were terrible. I picked up my gopro shot separately, picked out my sought separately. I just like to get to them easily. One thing I did in sarasota is that I actually titled men you could change the name of the shots and after I went through all this interview footage I actually transcribed all the footage just painstaking I don't always do that like people I work with through that on every project I feel like because I'm the shooter and the editor a lot times I can remember what was good in the interviews and I'll pick it out but for a big project it probably does help teo either yourself or have someone else write down everything that was said because then later if you decide oh we really need to talk about x in the film you have a searchable database you could search through all your stuff and in suraj I actually titled each clip the transcription it was kind of ah rough transcription was like notes but the title of each clippers like paragraphs long which was good because what I meant was in final cut you can actually bring up a little list of everything that's in your timeline and it's searchable so I could go I could start a rough cut and go away where was that clipper he talked about vietnam type in vietnam there it iss s that for me worked really well I mean there's some projects where I'm organizing clips very carefully I know it's going to be months long there are other projects worth like I need to get this done tomorrow there's no time to organize that's needed to burn through it ah, one of things I have to do in the anything is sinking audio. Um, what I have here is let's see, I have my which adi was this this pie? There's george talking and then we have georges interview up front somewhere that's the final version, but I have to take these the's video clip and his audio I can click on both, and I can just say, synchronize clip! And finally, what does the rest of using adobe premiere? I don't know if they've added, you happen to know a lot of people use paralyzed software that what you think these things up so that's also why you have people clapping a clapboard at the beginning of something? If they're recording audio and video separately, you need a reference point he could put it back together. I've always thought that the clapping is I don't think that necessary because a lot of software now khun, do it automatically for you or I feel like I've gotten pretty practiced and just seeing to wave forms. I mean, this is the wave form we're seeing right now of of the audio and if there's a big peak, reese says the word what and on the video file is a big p creases what I couldn't figure that out, I'll match him up, um but having the having the software do it for you is is pretty handy, but it's, just something to consider if you are recording audio and video separately and even if using the cheapest gear around. Like I said, if you're shooting on an iphone on your tripod, find a way to shoot dual system audio because you probably have something that can record audio that could get closer to your subject than this thing over here. Just get another iphone or get an audio recorder from the store or get like I used to take a laptop and put like a laval herb plugged into it next to my subject or myself, just anything you do to get closer audio and then because it's dual system just find a way and the other thing toe to sync it up. What I do when I'm editing is like I said, I start with the psat, I need to put those down and they, like I said earlier that's like the a role before you put your b roll on the b roll is secondary, so I'll put down all these thoughts and I'd like to put a lot of material in the timeline. Um, well, I haven't really had a chance to do it here, what I have even have here, this is just me like throwing a few shots down the timeline but I usually just put all the socks that I want maybe I'll even start with the entire interview of george and I'll just go through and listen and cut out the parts that were stupid and leave the great stuff and I like to edit in the timeline that way rather than your other option is you could send in now point pop it in the timeline that's kind of the two ways that people go about it I'd like to read it in the timeline um what this does for me is that, uh once I get this all in place now I need to order it and that's where I look at the story circle and I start thinking about a cable this part is definitely that takes let's put that over here I kind of like aa create little categories I think it's a raja actually had little items in the timeline there were labeled like this is the vietnam part of the film and so every time someone talking about me and I might just take that clip put it over here and it was difficult with like sir roger was like thirteen no, seventeen hundred things in the timeline a lot of stuff I'd like to get it really fast and it is thirty three minutes is a lot of stuff in there, but we got to find an orders that's what I do that's, how I organize stuff around. And then you said that's. When you start to find redundancies like ho, steve said this thing, and george said, this thing. We don't need both of them saying that let's, cut this one out, george said. It better that's, where you start finding those connections in the ending.

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.