Editor's Tricks: Smoke n' Mirrors

I pulled a short editing gig recently that has me fixing someone elses amateur mistakes. Based on the many comments regarding my frustrations over not being paid properly from my “What Price Pro for Hire” post, I found that many producers feel they have also been unfairly and improperly paid. They had good advice and suggestions on how they dealt with possible clients that didnt want to pay for the value of a good product. Its nice to know Im not alone, yet, isnt it so frustrating to realize so few understand the amount of work that goes into even the most simple production? Our elusive skills really are comprised of smoke and mirrors!

I always tell people video creation requires both right-side and left-side brain activity: one side for the artistic and creative, the other for the problem solving and technical details. Arent we special?

So, what was my fix? It was so simple; I almost didnt want to take their money! They made three mistakes: the first one had multiple cuts of the on-camera talent bumped back-to-back without any B-roll to cover the jump cuts. These cuts also were very tight together, so the talent appeared not to breathe between takes. The third amateur error was full of the talent on scene saying um.. and ah.. So, I just took out those audible pauses, added room tone in their place, and put some B-roll bridging the jump cuts together and gave the too-tight shots some breathing room. A 45-minute piece that took me about 2 hours to fix. They loved it. Said I was magical.

Id love to hear how other magical producers impressed their clients with easy tricks of the trade. Care to share?

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Jennifer O’Rourke is an Emmy award-winning videographer & editor.


  1. a friend asked me to make a gift of a video for a really poor comunity area, so
    a few decades ago i did a wedding video for a really messed up ‘family to be’.
    she had lost her father when a teenager, only to find him as the very priest to perform
    her wedding. the father had been an alcoholic, abandoning her and all idea of family
    then, i don’t know details, the father managed to quit drinking and become priest; so,
    there was a lot of regrets, guilt and fear of accusations, stirring an emotional bomb,
    because father and daughter would be meeting for the first time in their church
    on the very wedding night. they were completely scared, expecting an emotional disaster.
    and i was totally oblivious of the subtle drama unfolding.
    so i did my best to shoot the groom coming in, receiving blessings;
    then the wife to be, came in the church and the wedding proceeded:
    this and that and the other thing, would you accept him ? her ? ok,
    camera close upon ‘rings please…’ and then, to the cake and friends around.
    So now comes the simple easy trick: i called the bride,
    asked her to sit inside a parked car and my cableman went on to shake the car.
    inside she looked to the camera and smiled, more in surprise than understanding
    that i was pretending that the parked car was moving towards the church.
    in the editing next day, all i did was to cut from the blessed groom to the unlit
    car with the smiling bride, fading back to the bride entrance, non stoping all up to the ending departure of newly weds exactly as shot from the camera to the master tape.
    During the next 4 weeks, i’ve sold 75 copies of the vhs tape,
    wich is an insane amount of copies of a 8 to 12 people wedding.
    Later on the shaky bride now happy wife come to visit me (asking for more tapes)
    and she explained to me the drama behind the cerimony and thanked me with a crying smile
    that i turned her ritual moment of starting up a new family, ‘into a movie’.
    she meant that that simple cut and fade interrupted something,
    magically transforming the wedding memory that the video portrayed,
    allowing her self image to live a happy ending, like in a happy ending feature film,
    fading all the original drama out of the registration, and out of the conditions in wich
    she would live as a married couple. somehow, it also made me feel a real storyteller.
    i’m now swiming with channels, layers and graphics
    but i know that technology can work with a heart.
    RomanBruni – http://www.paradigmadigital.net – Rio de Janeiro Brazil