This post was written by Dunn’s multimedia artist, Christa Savio.
I have always been a storyteller. When I was a kid, I used to write and tell stories to anyone who would listen. I wanted other people to be able to visualize what I had imagined in my head. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I discovered visual storytelling. At the age of sixteen, I stumbled into an editing job and instantly became immersed in the world of video. Having only dabbled in still photography prior, I found it remarkable that I could craft a story that moved, and in turn, moved the audience. I was finally able to show what I had imagined. I began analyzing every movie and television show I watched – there was no turning back.
The job of an editor is often overlooked, and that’s exactly how I like it. My work should be invisible. The story is what the viewer should take home, not the fancy visual effects. (I’m looking at your lens flares, JJ Abrams.) The cinematographer captures beauty, light and personality; this is what the audience sees. All the pretty pieces of a film are handed to the editor, just like that, in pieces. I avoid the puzzle metaphor, because a puzzle has one solution.
With any array of footage, visual effects, sound – along with the invaluable input of the client, director, and account team – there are infinite ways to tell a story. It is all about balancing the goals of the messaging with the emotion we want the audience to experience.
Music can be a major player here. Once I have cut the footage, I always turn to music for inspiration. Since I am such a visual person, it is important to get myself out of the visual space and find the appropriate piece of music that will drive our message home. It is an integral part of the pacing of an edit.
From there, it is a whirlwind. There is no better way to describe the momentum during a rough cut. I wish I could say I keep a logical, organized Premiere timeline, but I’d be lying. It’s a mess. Arrange and rearrange until you, the editor, feel that perfect emotional response you want to ignite in your audience. Then, rearrange it again for good measure.
This is only the beginning. Visual effects, copy, motion graphics, and the ever-elusive world of color will tie the story together. Color is particularly interesting. As technology progresses and we have better access to raw footage, the freedom of color grading is expanding. Color temperature, exposure, and grain are all examples of the toolset one can use to support the message. Warm color temperature, for example, can imply intimacy. It can also show discomfort. If it is used in contrast with cooler toned shots, it can signify conflict. But, there are no rules. New techniques are discovered every day and their effect changes when combined with the other elements of editing.
Our recent Monin Concentrated Flavor film is a prime example of this balance. We went into it with this simple message: Concentrated Flavor is a new clean-label product from Monin that supports the green lifestyle of the consumer.
We wanted to emphasize the purity and freshness of the ingredients Monin sources, while also highlighting the key benefits of the product and showing how it can be used. Oh, and it had to be under two minutes in length. They say it’s easier to tell a long story than a short one. They’re right. By using all the tools described above, we were able to put together a concise snapshot of Monin Concentrated Flavor. It went through many, many iterations, but we weren’t satisfied until we had told our story.