Splitting Interviews

4 replies [Last post]
Peter Stedman
Joined: Oct 30 2000

I've been making some interviews with WW2 veterans. Naturally they will chat for ages on their experiences. I have managed to crop each down to approx 10/13 minutes. It is appreciated that I can't reduce them more without offending the good people who were so kind as to be recorded.

Even so, 10 minutes is a long time on one person even when useful cutaways have been inserted to retain interest. My question is . . .

Would it be appropriate to show (say) 5 minutes of subject 'A' followed by 5 minutes of subject 'B' then subject 'C' then returning to the subject 'A' and so on. I would mention that there is a lot more to the programme than just the interviews.

I can see that from some viewers point of view it will make the programme snappier but I am wondering if some, including the interviewees, might feel that it does not do the subjects justice.

Would folks care to give oppinions on this please.

foxvideo's picture
Joined: Sep 9 1999

Just had a similar type of problem, although mine were "extended voxpops", I did find that after initially cutting and then walking away from it for a day or so, when I looked at them again I found out I could cut down even further - You have to disconnect from them and imagine you're the viewer - the viewer won't notice the bits cut out because they didn't know they were there in the first place, the same for the interviewees, they've probably forgotten most of what they said and won't notice anything missing providing you cover the important parts.

Your suggestion of going from one to another and then back does work, it's used a lot, however it's often grouped with similar subjects mentioned by the other interviewees followed with footage relating to the subject, in effect you group the same topics covered by all the interviews together followed by footage, then on to the next group of similar subjects, it makes more work to edit like this rather than one full interview after the other but gives a more watchable program. You then get into the dilemma of - do you bring the persons name back up every time you show the person or do you only show it the first time we see them.....?

Dave Farrants Fox Video Editing

Joined: May 26 1999

Peter, you could keep their commentary running whilst you show other images; not simply cut aways but using their dialogue to describe or reveal the rest of the story; you don't always need to show them whilst they're talking. I believe this usually makes for a far more interesting viewer experience. I agree with Dave though cutting back and forth between interviewees does work and can certainly improve the program. Look at any of the '100 greatest...whatever' programmes where the same celebs often appear at multiple places during the show. I know that's a different genre/format, but the principle method of program making is sound.

Joined: May 17 1999

I've done something very similar with WW2 vets and former evacuees.

I cut it so that they talked about (for example) food, letters home, missing friends etc cutting back and forth between people so you got several views about different topics rather than different views on WW2. (if you see what I mean.)

i also didn't show their age on the name subtitle - I had their birth date.

So "Olive Sprocket - born 1928" rather than "Olive Sprocket age 77" whick is out of date before you've edited. I also chromakeyed either photos of the interviewee or watime footage behind them which allowed me to fade them up and down for an easier edit.

Joined: Jul 18 2003
DAVE M wrote:
I cut it so that they talked about (for example) food, letters home, missing friends etc cutting back and forth between people so you got several views about different topics ........

I'd say this is the most normal way of doing it for most programmes of this type, and from the viewers perspective probably makes most sense. It contrasts differing views and experiences on the same topic.

Visually, cutting between two interviews is far better if the two people are looking opposite ways. If they're both looking the same way it's probably better to go via other shots.