The reality of unscripted televisionediting.
Are you an editor who just landed your first reality show? Are youan assistant editor who is moving up to the Edit chair? If so, I’m gonna get youup to speed on editing unscripted television.
Along the way you’ll discovermany of the tips and tricks in the reality show editors toolbox to turn youinto a pro in no time.
Hi I’m Vince Rocca and I love reality TV.
I love editing reality TV.
I love watching reality TV.
Some people hate reality TV.
They say that stuff isn’t real.
I ask is ModernFamily real? Because reality TV may not be real, but it is really entertaining.
Haters will say it’s a bunch of people acting like idiots.
TV was different inmy day.
The difference between Lucy and Wipeout is I Love Lucy as an act ofviewing experience.
Wipeout, like all reality TV, is a passive viewingexperience.
A comedian once told me it’s tough to get laughs at a free show, butwhen guests pay a cover they invest in their entertainment and want to laugh.
People want to feel smart and feel like their money was spent wisely.
So they’remore likely to laugh at things.
With an active show like I Love Lucy you sitdown face the TV and consume the show.
You invest in that show.
Reality TV on the other hand is made for a scattered generation.
A generationwhose attention is split between a phone, a computer, gaming console, and a magazine.
Reality TV is passive background entertainment.
Because the viewersattention is divided, reality shows have to resort to tactics like edits everythree seconds with occasional flashes sputtered in and wall-to-wall musictrack with sharp beats.
All this chaos hopefully grabs the viewer away fromthat phone.
Have you ever found yourself watching a show about Ice Road Truckersor Duck Hunters when you don’t own a gun or drive a Peterbilt? It’s probablybecause of those flashy edits, but after we’ve grabbed your attention, we mustkeep it with interesting people and dazzling stories.
Even with greatcharacters and compelling stories, viewers may still feel like, “this show is dumb” that perspective arises because reality shows repeat lotsof information.
There’s a previously on this show, a coming up on this episode, and next time on this show.
This is done because they never know when you’regoing to look up from that phone.
We need to capture that divided attention andbring you back up to speed quickly.
Unfortunately repetition can feel dumb.
You’re telling the viewers something they may already know, therefore they’resmarter than the show, therefore this show is stupid.
To makematters worse just before the commercial break there is an act out tease with acoming up on.
These teases are often very flashy and contain the juiciest bits toget the viewer to look up for the commercials.
Before we go any furtherinto act outs let’s examine the differences between a traditionaltwo-hour movie and one hour of episodic television.
A typical two-hour moviefollows a three-act structure.
The movie starts on a low and excitement builds tothe break in act 2, when our hero decides to take the journey.
The journey nowtakes us to the midpoint where the hero is usually knocked down again.
The herorebuilds to the break into act 3 when all hell breaks loose.
The hero finallybattles their way to a happy ending.
A typical one-hour show follows a 6 actstructure.
Each act builds to an act out with a tease or a cliffhanger andfinally to an overall cliffhanger at the end of the show enticing you to watchthe next episode.
In comparing these two a 2 hour movie piques your excitement andspikes your dopamine levels four times.
On the other hand a TV show will giveyou 12 dopamine spikes in the same two-hour span.
In addition to that our TVheroes will be at various stages of achieving their goals as one herosucceeds another is at their midpoint so there are even more dopamine spikesbetween those breaks.
Have you ever bulked a two hour commitment to watch a movie only to find yourself binge watching six hours oftelevision? Act outs are the reason why.
The act break or act out is the mostimportant element of any television program.
It is closely related to thecliffhanger, however the cliffhanger is designed to keep the audience intriguedto back after months of hiatus.
An act outneeds to be tantalizing enough to keep eyeballs glued to the screen for thenext few minutes.
The act out is not only to keep you interested in the show it’sto grab your attention to watch the commercials.
After a great season finalecliffhanger the program gets shut off but a great act out keeps the viewerengaged and an engaged viewer watches the advertisements.
After all this is howwe pay the bills.
Act outs are often not real story points.
These tease-ablemoments are sometimes faked in the edit using exciting music to build tensionflashier cuts and the tastiest of sound bites.
Scripted television has theluxury of simply writing these act breaks into the story as a cliffhangeror an emotional whammy.
The writer writes something dramatic for a character to doand it’s done.
Unscripted or reality TV largely relies on what is shot in thefield.
These real events can often result in a restructure of the show.
See acharacter catches fire.
As what happened in a scene I edited for ToyMakerz.
As the misfit toys with motorscompetition approaches things are really heating up at the shop.
Are you kidding me? But often in reality the episodes overall timing and story point leaves us with scenes to actout with that are less than tantalizing.
Take this one for instance.
Finally got that off, just a matterof time.
Not very thrilling is it? But if we lop off the end, add some wild lines, we get something more exciting like this.
Granted this isn’t the most compellingscene in the world but it works in a pinch.
Another popular type of act out isthe coming up on.
In today’s binge watching fast-forward world.
The comingup on is losing favor.
A better approach is an attempt at a trailer that feels more integrated into the episode like this.
SEMA, it’s the biggest automotive show on the planet.
Over 2500 vendors, quarter of amillion people attend it.
Just to show up there in debut a car, that’s a whole new level of, WOW.
One of the most important tools in thereality editor toolbox is Frankinbiting.
Frankinbiting at its extreme is takingpieces of a person’s words and reassembling them to say something new.
Often this is harmless and it’s just used to deliver an explanation of whatwasn’t captured properly on set.
Frankenbiting is usually just used to condense statements make them cleaner and more concise.
Here’s an example.
So of coursewe got locked up, but, and they end up in the cell and in Panama and jail and.
Sothat’s 11 seconds and it is way too long all we really need him to say is, So ofcourse we got locked up in jail in Panama.
So let’s examine this further.
Okay the first thing that we need is him saying “so of course we got locked up, ” Soof course we go to locked up.
He ends the P and up here, and we’ll go to there.
Drop that to our timeline and then we need the word “in” but and they end up inthe cell and.
Okay we start clean before the word in.
That’s the end.
Okay now weneed “jail” Start in jail there we mark an in.
He says jail and, whichthat and if you listen jail and jail and but that and we can combine with in solet’s find the L in jaiL right about there.
So let’s drop thatdown and then now we need Panama in Panama, Bleh [rewind] In panama.
Okay drop that down and let’s hear howthis sounds.
So of course we got locked up in jail in Panama.
Now you hear popsin their audio pops.
We got locked up in jail in Panama.
So let’s select the audioand add some two frame cross dissolves between there.
So of course we got lockedup in jail in Panama.
Now the only problem is is we need to cover ouredits.
Let’s cover it with some b-roll and here it is.
So of course we gotlocked up in jail in Panama.
Now it’s about four seconds long which is60% less and it still conveys the same story but sometimes you want to changethe story.
Listen to what he says in this clip I was a gunrunner in Central Americanso I end up in jail and Panama because I was drunk and some taxi driver tried tomake his hit him and so I got out and start shooting at the taxi driver and Iwas getting ready for execution it’s to me at life is do or dieI might seem harsh on people and hard on people and I am and I’m never going tobe different because I demand yeah your attention you know this is this isn’tsomething that you might play at you know because I don’t play that you knowso of course we got locked up in jail in Panama and my first thought is I have toget out of here my my cell partner was this gangster guy from from Californiahe bought our way out because some of his associates had money or whatever and I swore I would never do it in my life again I figured that was the change and that’swhen I decided to farm.
Could you hear the Frankenbites inthere? I’m sure you heard some but more importantly what was your opinion ofthis guy? How did you feel about him? Now let’s take a look at the original clip.
Yeah when I went to South America like I was drinking a lot of beer and you knowjust people I ran into and I ran into this gangster guy from from Californiahe was a gun runner in Central America and he had a big car with diplomaticplates and another so I end up in jail and Panama with this guy because youbecause he was drunk and I was driving his car and some taxi driver tried tomake his hit him because there was some liability there and so this Jack guygets out and starts shooting at that taxi driver which was blank gun therewasn’t a real gun so of course we got locked up but and they end up intheir cell and in Panama and jail and I you know I had no idea what what wasgoing to happen like I was but my cell partner was getting ready for executionwho is that fellow it was a you know Panamanian prisoner and I saw the toanybody everybody in together yeah and when I got out of there of her Isaid goodbye to Jack you know he bought her way out because he had money orwhatever or he some of his associates did.
Did your opinion change? Is that acompletely different story? Now let’s take a look at how it was done.
I was a gunrunner in Central Americanso I end up in jail in Panama because I was drunk and some taxi driver tried tomake his hit him and so I got out and started shooting at the taxi driver andI was getting ready for execution it’s to me at life is do or dieI might seem harsh on people and hard on people and I am and I’m never going tobe different because I demand that yeah your attention you know this is thisisn’t something that you might play at you know because I don’t play thatyou know so of course we got locked up in jail in Panama and my first thoughtis I have to get out of here and my cell partner was this gangsterguy from from California he bought a way out because some of his associates moneyor whatever and I swore I would never do it in my life again I figured that wasthe change and that’s when I decided to farm .
Frankenbiting isn’t always aboutchanging the words, sometimes it’s about changing the entire story and eventhough you sometimes hear the Frankenbites you assume it’s just reality TVtalk.
Removing the pauses and you don’t realise the entire story was completelychanged.
That being said for the most part we don’t change stories thatdrastically.
Frankenbiting is usually just used to fix problems to take outthe pauses the umms and ahhs.
Here’s an example from Survivor.
Listen closelywhen she says I found a legacy that is stolen from her upcoming interview.
Can I tell you something I haven’t told anybody? I found a legacy advantage so if I amstill here on Day 36 I will receive an advantage in the gameif I had been voted out.
I would have handed it to you because you’retrying to help me.
I told Ken about the legacy advantage because I wanted him to know that he can trust me so I’m hoping that that boughtme some more goodwill.
Now let’s examine a template for a typical reality show.
The two most common types of reality show are the stand alone show and theserial the stand alone show has evergreen content and can be played inany episode order the serial on the other hand has an overall season storyarc where episodes must be played consecutively act 1 of a standalone showtypically opens with a coming up on followed by the show logo than acommercial break act 1 of a serial reality show typicallystarts with a pre Vaughn then a dramatic scene followed by the logo and acommercial break acts two through six of a show usually have the same structureeach scene starts with generic b-roll like a town or a city followed bylocation specific b-roll like a house then we cut to the reality Verte footagenext we go to the interview but usually before cutting to the interview we see areaction shot of the interviewee in reality this connects the interview andgives the illusion that the interview is reflective thought Ornan morning I meanit’s all right I like this pizza instead as long as the cheese is hard you knowit’s like four days old right I think like days six the cheese starts gettinghard everybody knows pizza is great for soaking up your bad decisions from thenight before these scenes are then compiled into asix to nine minute chunk with an act out tagged at the end to make up acts twothrough six music and b-roll are the heart of a reality show music is used tobring all the elements Verte interviews and b-roll and make them feel like onecohesive piece b-roll serves a few purposes it can cover flaws highlightelements transition from day to night become a Travel montage and in generaljust glitz things up here are some examples of how b-roll is used I’m so sleepy I don’t know what you knewmyself you said no I’m scared finally in a serial reality show youwill of course end with a cliffhanger next time on Survivor while a challengeleaves the survivors spinning a medical it’s insanehere’s a glossary of reality show terms to ensure you sound like a professionalin no time unscripted means reality reality meansunscripted pre Vaughn is a previously on coming up on is it coming up on next onmeans next time on and act out is the climax before the break and act in isthe first scene after the break a reset a rear rack or a recap are all the samething there are quick view scenes sometimes with voiceover to bring theviewer back up to speed a scene is the reality Verte reality Verte are theshots of what happened in reality commercial breakthat’s our sugar daddy a voiceover that’s the narrator or voice of God thathelps us convey lots of information in the shortest amount of time what I’mdoing right now b roll is b-roll shots taken with a secondary be cam andusually don’t have the main characters in it generic b-roll evergreen shotsthat can be used anywhere location b-roll identifiable characteristics of atown or an exterior shot of the building ext exterior int interior eg evergreenmeans this content is always green grass and it can grow anywhere or fit in anyepisode int V interview usually sit down after the factOTF on-the-fly interview usually shot on location off to the side ITM in themoment interview usually not reality but a character explains what is happeningin the moment the character often breaks the fourth wall and talks to the cameraand Arcee ruffcut FC or final cut that’susually your first export in the line of what’s going to be many hopefully you’velearned enough from this video to convince producers that you’re the rightchoice for their next show I’m Vince Roca and I look forward to working withyou on those shows thanks for watching.