Editing Live Events: Staying Organized and Creative On The Clock
Staying organized and creative during any edit is important. But when you have to produce a polished video for a live event, time is not on your side. Editors as well as the whole production team have to be on the same page.
What exactly is a live event?
Usually these events provide information to their employees, create hype around the company and put thought leaders together for networking. The company will hire a production company like us to make a recap video of the event and we often craft it to be the last thing shown before the event closes. I’m literally editing the project as footage is coming back from the rest of the crew. There’s a lot that goes into making a project like this successful and not a complete nightmare. Here’s some helpful tips I’ve learned over the years to edit on such a tight deadline.
There’s a lot of preparation that goes into this type of edit starting in pre-production. When time is not on your side you have to go into the event with a solid plan so everyone on the team has the same expectations and goals.
On the producing end it’s knowing who to interview, what questions to ask, and how to film as many quality interviews as possible in a short period of time. On top of that it's planning the coordination with the editor. There has to be a rotation and a rhythm that goes on between the crew to get the right amount of footage running back and forth. That way you're not spending too much time uploading footage to a computer or not having enough to start working from. That’ll slow down your editing process and limit how creative you can get when you’re already short on time. But if you keep the workflow steady you’ll be able to keep creativity up.
It can't just be the editor doing everything either. Everyone needs to be aware of what the editor needs to do their job. For example when a card of footage is dropped off don’t just hand it to the editor and take off for the next shoot. In a perfect world the producing team has time to relay any relevant information that can speed up the editing process. It’s helpful for producers to timecode long form speeches or interviews and tell the editor where the juiciest sound bites are. The same goes for shooters or DP’s. Let the editors know what you shot but more importantly what shots you think are perfect to use. This will greatly expedite the process and keep time on your side to create a fun edit.
Take Time To Design Your Edit Station
Ideally you want to have a nice comfortable editing station as close to the action as possible. This keeps the rotation of footage between the crew more manageable. It’s also important to have plenty of power and a strong wifi connection to stay in contact with crew on the floor and keep your equipment running efficiently. That sounds like common sense but don’t make the mistake of getting stuck in a 10th floor hotel room while the event is on the first floor. It doesn’t hurt to make sure you’re comfortable either. How good will your edit be if you’re sitting at an editing station with a janky stool and desk for 12 hours? Work with the client to relay the importance of that convenience and make sure you have what you need to be successful.
Prep For Your Edit In Advance
Even when you’re on deck waiting for that first batch of footage there's a lot of steps you can take in the mastering process you normally may not do right away. Cut your music track to the exact length you need the video to be and set peak limits in your audio mixer so it’s easier to balance tracks and clips. In this scenario you want preapproved music because you'd rather know where the impactful swells of the music are. Templating yourself this way will buy you time to be more creative with other parts of the edit and still put out a really great product.
Going into the live event with a blueprint for where you want to put certain shots can help as well. Specifically if you’re setting up more specialty shots with movement or time lapses you may have an idea of where those are going to go based on the music track you’ve already cut. But you're still trying to find creativity in the combination of footage you see and the way people say things.
Your main goal is to make this exciting and fun to watch. At the end of the recap video everybody should be pumped, which is what the corporation wants. What you're looking for is maybe not the best content driven sound bites, but the most powerful sounding and enthusiastic quotes.
One thing I never compromise on is staying as organized as possible. When a card comes in I label and completely break it down like I would on a long-term project. This is especially useful with B-roll. As I’m cutting footage I’m also organizing shot “groupings” like shots of speakers, audience listening to speakers, people networking, setup etc. Having an ongoing reference pool of all these is especially helpful. Although it seems like a lot of effort and extra time taken, it pays off during crunch time when there's two or three hours left until your deadline and you can easily find whatever you need instead of combing through hours of footage.
Saving Time For Approvals and Delivery
While we are on a time crunch there are some steps you just can’t skip. You’re not just delivering what you think is a great video but what your client thinks is a great video. Allotting time for them to review your work, provide feedback and approve the final product is as important as managing your time to edit. You don’t want to fall into the trap of being a few hours away from delivery with your client still asking for revisions.
Along those lines you have to keep in mind rendering and exporting time. Depending on your edit this can take longer than expected so make sure you’re not hitting export with 15 minutes to go before delivery.
There is a sense of pressure editing on such a short deadline. There’s pressure on every crew member to get the job done and get it right. But knowing what you can do in a limited amount of time and taking the right precautions will help you spend the right amount of time making a great video.Have a question or need consulting on this topic?
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