Topics in Visual Journalism

The Art of Video Editing module

Course Details

In this five week course, students will learn the art of editing. The focus will be on story structure. More than technical editing skills, structuring the story is the most daunting challenge students face once they return from the field with their footage. The editing module will center on the concepts of the narrative three-act story structure technique, and how it can be applied to nonfiction visual storytelling. The principles of this classic dramatic storytelling technique can be a powerful tool to help organize ideas and make difficult editing decisions. Students will learn the elements and devices of each act (the inciting incident, obstacles, conflict, reversals, climax, etc.) and how to use them to create tension and drama while building a journalistically-sound thesis that unfolds in a way that is at once informative and engaging.   

Students will watch and analyze long and short-form documentaries/nonfiction video from different genres—investigative, historical, essay, character-driven, biography, etc.— to make visible the techniques employed that make each story effective. Students will also spend time exploring how visual language is used in storytelling, beyond standard soundbites and narration. They will also learn the basic principles of working with music, narration, graphics, photographs, archival and file footage; of pacing, rhythm, perception of time and space, “storytelling logic” and the importance and not so obvious role and use of sound. Technical considerations connected to the above, as well as prepping for delivery and finishing considerations (ie, titling, compression, importing/exporting, and digital output codecs, etc.) will also be discussed. The students will complete the module with a solid technique to employ in their editing process, enabling them to make and deliver compelling and impactful nonfiction video.