Every morning I spend an hour on the treadmill while plugged into my iPod listening to music. Sometimes the TV is turned on but with the sound turned off. I have found that just “watching” TV and in particular the commercials, is a great way to learn editing technique. I’m not distracted by the audio so I can better see how the elements get cut together.
Commercials need to get their message out in 15 seconds so the cuts are generally quick and the story needs to be told in an efficient manner. Action-reaction shots, cutaways, close-ups, sequencing – all stand out to my eye because I’m not distracted by the sound. It makes for a great lesson in editing. I notice the visual storyline – what shots are bumped up together, how long they stay on the screen and how they all make up the whole in presenting the message.
Conversely, if I have the TV on in another room (with the audio) and I’m just listening, I can usually get the message without seeing any visuals. That’s why great audio is essential – it drives the story. If people can’t hear something or understand it because the audio is poor quality, the piece fails to engage.
So try it sometime. Watch TV without the sound and notice how the story is told through the visuals and how they are cut together. It will help make you a better editor. And then try watching a video that you create with and without the sound. It’s a great way to see if you are telling the story that you meant to tell.