If a documentary is created through the structure of interview clips, then a lot of the time as an editor will be used to organise all the material and ensuring you create a story arc. This means that as the editor, I’d spend the majority of my time editing and re-arranging sound bites to allow the film to tell a completed story without the need of a form of narration – (this usually means creating an assembly of sound bites in a different way they were recorded.)
Editors can apply two types of sound bite constructions: 1) Splicing together the parts of two or more sound bites to create a new statement; or 2) editing a word or phrase from another part of the interview to get the right ‘inflection’, for example, using a sound bite from the end of a sentence to make a statement, whereas the original recording was at the beginning of the interview. This is called a ‘Frankenbite’. – (I like the idea of using this to make your work more professional or to get the point across, but not using it to make the interview dishonest, the interviews used need to work but not be taken out of their original context.)
The point of splicing this way is to collapse time, and to get the point across quickly, rather than having a long take of sound rambling on. As long as the content stays true, the film will be okay. These edits are usually covered with the use of cutaway shots to hide all the jump cuts between splices. Even though I prefer this method, some directors prefer to show the jump cut to give a certain interesting rhythm to the cut, which with cutaways wouldn’t be there. It also allows the audience to see that the edit has been made within the footage.
Tips on Cameras…
Using a HDSLR allows you to work on two-camera shots, which is known to be useful when it comes to documentary interviews.
‘Often directors will set up two 5D or 7D cameras – one facing the subject and the other at an angle. This gives the editor two camera angles to cut with and it’s often possible to assemble edited sound bites using cuts between the two cameras at these edit points.’
This method allows you splice together the different thoughts – without a jump cut.