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Video Editing: Rough Cut Tweet This   Forward This



Rough Cut

Ins & Outs


Wrap Up

The Wedding

16 August 2013

The old Krups espresso maker huffed and puffed and steamed out a little espresso. The birds chirped in the trees, the sun warmed the fog, the fog diffused the sunlight. It was such a lovely morning that we thought we'd just go back to bed without the coffee.

But we had a movie to edit.

By the time we got back to the bunker from our four-state trip, our memory of the event was not to be trusted. Even worse was our memory of what we had shot. A few things stood out, sure, but we needed a way to review everything in order.

Enter the rough cut.

THE PROJECT | Back to Contents

We had archived our original Sony clips, Olympus clips, Olympus stills and audio files in separate folders. So it was easy enough to copy those folders to our working project directory. If anything happened to the working copies, we still had two copies of the originals archived.

Next we launched Premiere Pro CC and created a New Project.

Project Workspace. On the top row, the Source pane lets you work on a clip, setting in and out points and keyframing effects while the player pane plays the seuqence on the timeline. On the bottom row, the project bin pane (left) holds source material and effects while the timeline is where you do much of the work while checking the audio signal meter (lower right).

The built-in Media Browser displayed our original sources in the directories we'd copied to our hard disk. We simply copied them to new bins in our project, which we created for the Stills, Audio and Video to hold the imports.

Then we organized the Project bins a bit more, creating different bins for the two cameras' video clips, for example.

Olympus Video Bin. A folder by any other name, the view is more helpful. Here we've displayed our E-PL1 clips with a poster frame but we tended to work in list view.

That's all we needed to get to work on the rough cut.

ROUGH CUTS | Back to Contents

Click on a clip in its bin and you can play it in the Source Editor pane above the bin pane without committing to it on the Timeline to the right. You can also set in and out points and apply effects in the Source Editor pane.

All we wanted, though, was something that flowed from beginning to end, refreshing our memory of the event. No in and out points, no effects. Just the narrative.

Because we had used two cameras simultaneously, we thought it would be wiser to keep the narratives separate. So we created a rough cut for the Sony clips and another for the Olympus clips.

We simply selected them all and dragged them to the New Sequences button to lay them out in chronological order. Pretty simple.

With all of them selected, we applied the default transition, too, to make it a little easier on the eyes. But that was it.

And it was easy to do that, too. Just Select All and Shift-D to apply the default cross-dissolve transition on everything. Instantly we had our story from beginning to end.

Chronology is big in video editing. You start at the beginning, go through the middle and finish at the end. Forget about flash backs.

Export. View the Source or Output in the preview pane and step through the Settings on the right.

To actually create the movie files we could watch on either the computer or a TV, we simply exported them as H.256 files. Then we copied the .mp4 exports to our first generation Apple TV and played them back for anyone who wanted to see them.

Media Encoder. The Export is actually done by Media Encoder, so you can queue several sequences for export and run them at your leisure. It does take a while to encode media.


This gave us a "short version" rough cut from the Olympus clips and the "long version" Sony treatment. Our stills and audio were still missing in action but we could live with that.

And while they were assembled for our own use, we didn't keep them to ourselves. Instead, we played them for anyone who wanted a peek.

Timeline. Note the video (top) and audio layers, of which you can have several. The brown areas indicate transitions. The sliders to the right and below can be resized to fit the whole sequence in the window or enlarge a segment, as we have here.

This turned out to be not only amusing to them but helpful to us, too.

One thing we learned was how important the dancing at the reception was. We were, naturally, focused on the ceremony, the vows, the exchange of rings. We thought if there was anything we might have to cut to get down to feature-film length, it would be the dancing at the reception. But that's where all the laughs were.

If you're doing this professionally, a rough cut like this can be delivered or posted (if you export to a Web-sized format) pretty quickly, even during the reception. Our newly-weds just got to look at the raw footage on the camcorder and memory card. But we now realize could easily have posted the rough cuts for them (and the rest of the wedding party), too.

AN OUTLINE | Back to Contents

The advantages of making the rough weren't limited to what our first viewers revealed to us, though. With the subject matter fresh in our mind, we were able to outline the production, giving our movie some shape.

There was, for example, four main events:

  • Overture -- during which people gathered for the event, the harpist played, the mothers were seated, the groomsmen took their places and the bridesmaids came in.
  • The Ceremony -- beginning with giving away the bride and going on to the readings, the vows, the exchange of rings and that first kiss as the newlyweds were introduced.
  • The Cocktail Party -- during which we got a flyover of everyone and a few clips of the groom buying drinks.
  • The Reception -- which was everything else, including a nice shot of the cake, the introductions of the bridal party, the first dance, the three toasts, cutting the cake, father/daughter dance, mother/son dance, bouquet toss, garter toss and the dancing.

We also made a point to get the correct spelling of the place and confirm the date. Because we had some titles to make. And credits to roll:

  • The Wedding Party -- or the credits, however you look at it, would let the audience mop up their tears before the lights came on at the end.

With the parts of the puzzle laid out before us, the question became simply how to proceed.

WORKFLOW | Back to Contents

Now that we had some idea of what would come first and what would follow, we were ready to think about how to mold our source material into a movie.

We had some stills we wanted to use. And video clips from multiple cameras. Plus separate audio. That's the source material.

And we knew roughly what happened when. So we had to organize our source material by event.

We also knew we wanted to be flexible about assembling all this into a movie. You don't want to build a brick wall that, you learn too late, is not level on the first row. So we needed to know how to manage our project in Premiere.

To learn how to do that, we watched Richard Harrington make a movie about Bald Eagles.

It highlighted several steps in a typical Premiere workflow:

  1. Create a Premiere Project.
  2. Import photos and media into the Project.
  3. Add a title, video, audio and photos to the timeline to create a Sequence.
  4. Polish the video with effects and transitions.
  5. Export the video.

We started by importing the original materials, whatever they were, into a new project. We again had a folder or bin for each camera's video, adding another for the stills and yet another for the audio.

Bins. The major parts of the film are numbered at top in bins of their own with some original source material bins below them and the movie itself (Shelly & John).

Organizer Bin. A Processed bin inside the Overture bin holds everything we put in the Overture sequence just above it.

Then we sorted them into bins for each of the five segments of our production. This was easy with the video clips and the stills, because they were discrete entities. But it was impossible for the audio, which spanned more than one segment.

In fact, we quickly began to appreciate the audio as the spine of our project. Get that down and build the video on top of it. And the stills on top of the video. You know, where we had to pan quickly to a different view or someone banged into the camera.

With things organized into bins, we could build a sequence for each segment, polish the sequence and then nest it into a clip we could build the complete movie sequence with.

As we used an asset, we could move it into a Processed Clips bin within the bin for that segment. That let us see at a glance what we still had left but it also let us retrieve something we'd already used if we had to.

All we had to do now was learn how to do a few essential things. And make more coffee.

(Editor's Note: This is the second of a five-part series on editing a wedding video. Links to the other stories are in the main table of contents at the top right of each story.)

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