For any documentary maker, it is important to keep the important parts in the film, and remove the unnecessary video footage. Hence video editing becomes a very important feature in documentary film-making. A documentary film maybe based on anything-celebrities, wildlife, automobiles, sports, politics, health, etc. But while shooting of the film, it is not that easy to decide beforehand the duration of the footage that will be shot, according to the final requirement of the film. Most film-makers have the tendency to get as much video footage as possible, so that he would not regret missing out on anything. Nothing wrong with that! But video editing before delivering the final cut is necessary; it is a long and challenging process that requires a lot of patience as well as perseverance.
Suppose a documentary is being made on dinosaur fossils. Now the special effects would not be added in the same way as in the case of the Jurassic Park movies by Spielberg. But special effects such as dinosaur footprints in the background can be added during the credits. Close ups of fossil sites form an integral part of such a film, and need to be shown every now and then. Such effects make the film more vibrant and happening compared to other documentary films already made on the subject. And to be on the safe side, it is never a bad idea to have a look at other films made on the same subject beforehand, to have originality as well as a different perspective.
It is also important to organize the video footage in a way that it makes sense. Most of the things that you have researched are real, but you can make it look like a logical story through your documentary. Many of us have grown up watching half-hour episodes on wildlife on popular educational networks such as Discovery and National Geographic. For instance, an episode on the life of a snow leopard may just contain 40 minutes of video footage when shown on television. But the time and effort that goes into making this 40-minute film is a lot more than it appears to be. An important thing to note here is while the reporter says that he has waited all night for the leopard to come out of its den and hunt for its prey that might not be the actual amount of time he has actually waited. In most cases, he might have had to wait for more than just one night. But the footage that needs to be shown on television demands a length of not more than 40 minutes, so it needs to be trimmed accordingly.
Another major factor is the order in which the film is arranged. The film should be able to create enough drama to engage the audience, hence arranging the footage in an organized and dramatic manner becomes necessary. However you do not need to overdo the drama part. But make sure you do not invest too much time while shooting the tree, out of which the latex in the rubber used for making the tire of just one of the vintage cars from the series of all the 1940’s editions on which your documentary is based. And even if you have, make sure you trim most of it during video editing.
One of the recipes for the success of a documentary may be the objectivity with which the content in the film is presented. The film-maker should try to keep all perspectives related to the main topic in front of the audiences. Suppose a documentary is being made on the recent industrialization of one of the under-developed regions of California. While a lot of time might have been spent shooting the men behind the project, the power plants and the workers, it is also important to focus on the environmental aspects and the hazardous impact of industrialization on the natural resources and wildlife. Even if enough footage has not been shot on the same, the studio narrator or the film presenter can do a bit of research about the various statistics and give a short analysis on it. If the interviewee who may not be of much importance to the documentary are not speaking with the kind of energy the film demands, it would be a better idea if you can get a presenter to talk about the various issues.
If you can add more variety to your documentary in a short span of time, in an organized and flawless manner of course, it would be easier for you to get the message across to the viewers. And if you can give the viewer more to think about than just one perspective, you have been successful in making a powerful and strong film. Make sure you don’t confuse the viewer though!