Editor, John Moratiel on refining undercover videos for documentaries

28 03 2011

I was lucky enough to spend some time at Fitzrovia post and spoke to online editor John Moratiel.

Undercover video journalism is a hard form of journalism to edit. During the research and gathering evidence stage for a documentary, two types of camera can be used. One can be worn on the body and the other can be concealed within a static object. Whilst this makes for exciting viewing when eventually transmitted, getting to that stage takes a great deal of time and effort and can be problematic. It is often the case that when an object is used to conceal a camera, the object can be moved unwittingly. It can be turned to face a wall, using footage where there are no figures on screen does not make for good viewing. When all the video material is gathered, it is logged by researchers who watch the videos, describing briefly in a Word document what happens in each clip and then typing up the dialogue in detail.  In an ideal world, it would be preferable to watch the videos in real time, but it is sometimes necessary to speed the viewing up. Often it is the case that when important dialogue is located in the video, a clip might have to be viewed several times. When all of the videos are logged, producers will review the highlighted footage, and should then judge what should be included, both to captivate and interest the audience and also to remain balanced. (Editing badly can end in court battles)

Interviews are undertaken on cameras either with tape or tapeless. If video footage is recorded on tape, the footage is then digitised during post production. Or if you are assembling footage for personal use and not on a large scale, it is possible to do this without too much technical expertise

For secret videos, files are saved much like an MP3 file, which are then downloaded. Editors job to put them together in the same format. The industry standard is AVID or Final Cut Pro.

Sarah Stewart

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