If you’ve ever watched an unedited interview – yawn – you know how extremely helpful the editing process can be. Music, graphics, cutaways…  all of these elements help drive a compelling video. As far as Bottle Rocket Media’s Dave Sarno is concerned, a great brand video requires both a “relaxed subject” and a creative mind at the console.

How do interviews enhance brand videos?

Because you get to see faces. After all, brands are people, right? We all want to feel something when we watch a video—interviews help the audience get something emotional and passionate directly from the client. They create memories. If someone is excited about their products or services, it’s so much more impactful to see that excitement.

What video editing techniques help interviews come alive?

A relaxed interview subject is a great start. I have to rely mainly on the producers and directors to create the right atmosphere on set. Beyond that, there is only so much an editor can do with broll, music and graphics to add texture and mood to an interview. A great music track, for example, is a great way to set the pace. B-roll and active footage are also nice additions to balance out a monologue and keep the audience interested—matching words with product-related visuals can help emphasize the point and leave a lasting impact.

What constitutes a good interview?

Good interviews move quickly. They share important information, clearly. The composition is balanced, and multiple cameras provide variety. But most importantly, a good interview feels like an honest trip into the mind of the person and the brand.

It usually takes the combined efforts of a passionate subject, a seasoned producer or director, and a creative editor at the console to create the most honest, effective result. Again, it’s about finding and exploiting those compelling moments. At the end of the day, if the interview sticks in your head, it’s a success.

Interviewing sometimes takes skill Learn some tips on being a great interviewee.

Why is editing interviews a unique process?

It’s a specific balance between getting the best content and the best performance while staying true to the intended message. You have to scour the footage and find the most human moments to really underscore the message. The performances are what they are, so I try to make everything flow through the most honest quotes and authentic reactions I can find.

What are the main challenges?

The more natural the subject matter, the better. Oftentimes the performer isn’t relaxed in front of the camera. Most of us aren’t. Remember, these are usually real people behind the brands, not actors. So if the piece is feeling stiff or unemotional, I simply start with my personal favorite moments and go from there. Maybe it’s someone unexpectedly laughing or smiling during a serious monologue, or even a natural exchange between takes when we were still rolling. There is always a way in, if you look hard enough.

Can an editor help ensure a good interview before it arrives in post?

Yes. If you are on a collaborative team, like we are, you’ll definitely have a say during pre-production. It’s the best opportunity to offer ideas for provocative or message-driving questions, and that will influence the end result.

My team almost always conducts pre-interviews with our subjects to give all parties a sense of what to expect on set. This helps the subject become comfortable with the camera, while helping us prepare to capture, and cut around, their individual personalities.

How would you describe your editing style?

My goal is to offer whatever style best meets the piece. If it’s comedic, I try to push the pace. If it’s a music video, I look for visuals to match the nuances of the melody. If it’s a brand video, I aim for a little professional polish. The style should seamlessly match what the client wants. Editing at its best is invisible.


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