Stock Footage, Editing, and Music with Larry Roy

14 Sep

By: Taylor Vick

The editing process is something that has always amazed me. It takes such skill, attention to detail and focus to edit footage. Larry Roy was available to answer some questions about editing from a producer’s viewpoint, and how he manages all of that content.

Taylor Vick: Stock footage versus original footage?

Larry Roy: Stock is more cost efficient when the style or quality of footage you need is way beyond what the commercial budget will allow. Footage from a certain era, for example. It’s obviously easier you use stock WWII footage, than to attempt to re-create it, unless you have the scene calls for something very specific, and you have the budget. Or maybe you need footage of sharks – not something you would typically go out and film even if you have the budge, since there is great shark footage available.

If you need to portray a specific location or event, or a very particular style of footage, then original footage is best. It localizes the message and adds credibility. We prefer to shoot footage whenever possible, but again, it’s gaging what is more important–the quality or the specificity of the shot? If you can afford both, shoot original footage in most cases. Since stock footage is of course available to anyone, we often add a treatment or filter, or vary the speed, to give it a unique flair.

TV: Do you have any editing tips?

LR: Editing is really where a story gets told, whether it’s a commercial or it’s a short video or a feature film. It’s where you piece together the sequence, timing and flow.

Beyond timing and flow, editing is a lot of decision-making about what to use and what to leave out. On most projects, we overshoot to give us options in post. (It’s no fun to produce a 3-minute video with only 2 minutes of good footage!) Editing can and should involve trial and error, because the timing and feel is so important.

In commercial advertising, we typically edit video to audio. In other words, you have a recorded script or on camera talent, or music–something that marks a beginning and end. Audio and video of course have to work together in some logical or aesthetic fashion. So if you lay down your base audio track, driven by words, sounds and/or music, then you’ve got something from which you can tell the visual story. Audio is generally enhanced, or “sweetened” at the end of a project, but in its rough form, it typically starts the editing process.

In short, my advice is to be prepared, have a vision for the project, but allow for creative ideas to flow once you sit down to edit.

TV: How do keep track of all the different edits/shots?

LR: On set, we use verbal remarks, slates, shoot logs, and good script supervisors! Often the audio remarks a director makes on set while the camera’s rolling guide the producer and editors in post. And even in this day and age, a good paper log to refer to when in post-production helps. Digital production makes shot management much easier now, as opposed to tape and time code, since each take of a scene can be captured as a separate clip.

Also, we tend to shoot to edit. Because I’ve done a lot of producing, I understand what an editor has to go through, and try to think ahead when shooting so as not to make the editor’s job a nightmare. Yes, we’ll overshoot, but mainly to give us options where we expect to need them. When shooting B-roll for some long-form product, our shots are pretty planned, but we improvise on the fly as well to capture different angles or elements or scenery, just for variety. There is a “must have” list of shots, then there’s everything else.

TV: How do you go about selecting music to go in the commercials?

LR: To me, the mood that you want to create with the commercial should drive the music selection. If it’s intended to be light-hearted and fun, then the music needs to follow suit. If the tone is more somber and serious, then the music needs to match that. Some of the best post-scoring to me in commercials is what’s NOT there–a strategic break in all sound to accentuate a point. We often use a straight percussion, or a recurring sustained note to create a unique feel or sound.

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