Tip #1036: Rough Cut Interviews in 6 Steps

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1036: Rough Cut Interviews in 6 Steps

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

These six steps keep the chaos at bay while editing interviews.

(Interview image courtesy of Pexels.com.)

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This article, written by Joe Frederick, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is a summary.

Editors on interview projects face an overwhelming task: reducing hours of footage into just minutes for the final cut. Eliminate that stress with these six steps.

1. Transcription. Getting your interviews transcribed is the best piece of advice I have for anyone cutting these types of videos. There are many, many advantages to getting your interviews transcribed. If the director suddenly wants to find a particular soundbite from a particular interview, you can easily search the transcription for particular key words or phrases. You can also skim through the interviews when away from the edit suite. The benefits are endless.

Before the transcription, it’s worth forming your multicam clips first, if you’ve filmed from multiple angles, so you can drag the multicam clip into your timeline and export the audio from there. That way, the timecode on your transcription will match the timecode of your interview timeline. This is vital if you want to keep your process efficient.

2. Highlighting. Read all the transcripts from beginning to end, highlighting anything and everything that might possibly be used in the edit. I usually open the PDFs in Preview, which allows you to use different colors when highlighting.

3. CreateGood Content.” Back in your NLE, go through all your interviews, cutting out any of your highlighted segments from each interview into a new project/sequence. Essentially you are building an unorganized selects reel. Put a text slide before each clip with the content of the sound bite. By now, you should have a sense of the organizational structure you are aiming for.

4. CreateGood Content Ordered.” Rearrange the selected sound bites into an order that makes sense.

5. CreateContent Cut.” Duplicate your project and rename it “Content Cut.” Because your footage is now in order, you’ll be able to see when you have repetition in what’s being said and can quickly delete it. Then, get busy deleting and whittling down your cut until it’s the length you want your final piece to be.

6. CreateRefined Content Cut.” Duplicate your project file once again and rename it Refined Content Cut. This is where the final finessing takes place.

By taking your project in stages, it helps you feel more in control which allows you to focus more on your story.

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3 replies
  1. Steve Sweitzer
    Steve Sweitzer says:

    After 35 years of working in TV news I had to smile at this “relaxed” approach. Even with a multicam interview I just work from the master shot and burn in timecode and log from there. Since I’m cutting my own work, the transcription is the “rough” edit and I only log the things I might use. Then I write my script from there and cut from the script. Granted, I’m seldom working with interviews longer than 30 minutes and my pieces are seldom longer than 5 minutes. I’m always amazed at the “relaxed” pace of the “production” world.

    • Larry Jordan
      Larry Jordan says:


      Big smile… After 35 years, I should HOPE you have a system…! This article was written more for younger editors struggling how to keep from drowning in data. As you know, as soon as media went digital, shooting ratios when through the roof.

      And, “relaxed” is a relative term. I once sat in on an edit session at TMZ, where each editor needed to turn out a story every 15-20 minutes. It wasn’t art, but they got the job done.


  2. mike janowski
    mike janowski says:

    Except for the transcription part (which is an excellent suggestion if you have LOOOOOONG interviews, and can afford it), everything the author says here is applicable to any interview or actuality job. This describes my process to a “T”. Thanks!


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