5 Tips For Editing Your Own Interview Testimonial Video

corporate video video production

This week continues our dive into all the steps involved in creating your very own interview testimonial video. Testimonial videos, whether you're creating them for your own company or for a client, are a great way to approach video production for the first time. In addition to offering a lot of value, testimonial videos are straight-forward in their creative concept and don't need to have any fancy production or editing techniques in order to end up with a professional and high quality video.

In this post we'll be outlining five important tips to consider before you start the editing process. These tips should be helpful to you whether you have a lot of experience editing under your belt, or haven't ever opened up an application like Final Cut Pro X or Adobe Premiere Pro before. They are all in support of ensuring that your video plays back smoothly and looks and sounds great.

Once you've shot all the footage needed for the testimonial video, the editing process can begin. Editing tackles the task of crafting together a short, concise, and smooth flowing video that engages the viewer. The footage involved in many testimonial videos will consist of the interviewees delivering their answers on camera and other footage such as b-roll, graphic assets, music, and titles.

With all that in mind, let's get started.

Tip #1 - Organize

Video Timestamp: https://youtu.be/xQlalBBBGyE?t=34

Once you've opened up your editing application of choice and imported all of the camera footage, your next task is to determine which soundbites will work best for the edit. In some cases, you will have already heard the interview being conducted live on set (or you may have conducted the interview yourself). In these cases where you're already somewhat familiar with the content, it can be tempting to start editing right away, grabbing clips from the media pool and placing them into the timeline to craft your story.

However, starting the editing process without first organizing the footage could lead to a less than ideal edit. This can be especially true if you have a lot of footage to go through, perhaps several hours worth of interview footage.

Let's say you have an interview that lasted one hour. That one hour shooting session will likely need to be edited down into a two minute video that contains only the most relevant content from the shoot that supports the message you're trying to deliver. There will be a lot of possible structures and storylines that you could edit together, and many answers that will sound positive and valuable to include. This is where organization can help in planning out and executing an effective edit. It will also prove to be very helpful to have content based on a similar topic grouped together so that searching for certain content is less time consuming.

Organize in the App

There are a couple methods you can use to organize video footage. One method is to isolate and categorize sections of video clips using the organizational tools in the editing application you are using. All editing applications of a certain caliber will have these tools.

Organize in Writing

The second way to organize is to write out a summary of each answer given by the interview subject and then categorize each answer based on the broad topics that were covered in the interview.

This method of writing out (in a word document) a brief bullet point description of each answer may not seem as useful or worth the effort at first. However, seeing all the content laid out in writing can help to make the editing process much easier and more effective. Rather than having to sift through video footage and listen for certain topics and answers (even if they are already grouped by topic in the editing application), you can quickly skim through a word doc, identifying key words and key phrases that you're looking for to fill a particular section of the edit.

Each editor will have their own preferred method of organization, perhaps different from anything outlined here. No matter which way you go about it, organization is an important initial step in your editing process.

Tip #2 - Start With the Rough Edit

Video Timestamp: https://youtu.be/xQlalBBBGyE?t=107

Once the footage is organized and prepared, you can start putting together the rough edit. For our purposes, we'll define the 'rough edit' as the first video you create that includes only the interview footage and nothing else.

Most likely, you'll also have other great content to include in the edit besides just the interview footage. This content could be b-roll shots that will help to illustrate whatever is being talked about, graphic images, motion graphics, music, special effects, and more. Starting your edit by working with only the interview footage will help to ensure that the final video plays back in logical way. It can be tempting to start adding b-roll right away, experimenting with creative cuts and transitions, or even skipping to the end of the edit perhaps to create that awesome vision you had in mind for the closing titles. However, the strength and effectiveness of the testimonial video relies on its strong foundation, which is the interview itself; all other tasks should be taken care of after that foundation has been laid.

After completing this rough edit of only the interviewees answers, you should be able to close your eyes, play it back, and have it sound great and flow in a logical way from soundbite to soundbite. Naturally, the edit will look quite incomplete, plain, and choppy without the b-roll or other assets to cover up the edits. This is to be expected. When starting with only the rough edit, you're ensuring that everything you do from this point on will only be in support of a very solid and effective storyline.

Furthermore, having to go back and re-edit the main content of the edit (the interview) after you've already added in b-roll, music, and effects, will only lead to headaches. Once everything is working together, adjusting edits can sometimes have a ripple effect down the editing timeline and put other areas out of sync.

When all is said and done, the classic concept of laying a solid foundation in support of a stronger finished product holds true for video editing, especially when it comes to interview testimonial videos.

Tip #3 - Tighten Up the Edit

video timestamp: https://youtu.be/xQlalBBBGyE?t=157

Tightening up the edit means making sure that every cut from one shot to the next is clean and not distracting to the viewer. One way to achieve this is to make sure you don't have any pauses in a person's speech either just before or just after an edit point (and especially not just before). Imagine for a moment that a person is speaking rather quickly with cuts throughout their speech in order to remove pauses or word fumbles. If after any one of these cuts, a pause in speech is left in, it makes the cut that much more noticeable. Having the person speaking right from the first frame of a cut keeps the viewer engaged and less distracted by all the edit points.

It should be noted as well that pauses or even word fumbles can sometimes work when left in the edit. These are called 'motivated' edits. Pauses in speech can in fact support a point that is being made. In these cases, it will be clear that the pause was intentional and supports the storyline. Most of the time these pauses will come in the middle of a person's speech, but sometimes can be left in even just before or after an edit point. There are no hard and fast rules, only guidelines. Generally, it's best to keep your edit tight with minimal pauses at the edit points.

Tip #4 - Clean up the Edit

video timestamp: https://youtu.be/xQlalBBBGyE?t=226

Similar to tightening up the edit, cleaning up the edit means removing any word fumbles, 'ums', or pauses. Cleaning up is less to do about timing and having clean edit points, and more to do with removing unflattering or unnecessary content. Removing instances like these will support the interview subject in appearing the best that they can and also aids in keeping the viewer engaged. While it's not necessary to remove every single 'um' or stutter, sometimes having too many of them in your video will give the impression that the video was not crafted with care, and it may lose some of its effectiveness.

When it comes to pauses in speech, they can be noticeable errors as well, especially during a fast-paced cut. In another case, a person may say "um" more than is preferable (I confess that I am a heavy 'um'-sayer when on camera). Other examples of unwanted content include word stutters, coughing, visual or auditory distractions off-camera, the interviewer's voice, or echos that trail on from just before the edit point.

Tip #5 - Add in B-Roll

video timestamp: https://youtu.be/xQlalBBBGyE?t=289

Our final tip to improve your edit is to include b-roll. So far, all of the tips have been regarding the main content (interview answers) of the testimonial video. Here, we are focusing on video footage that is other than the main interview, also known as b-roll. Including b-roll in your edit not only plays a big part in keeping it engaging and visually appealing, but can also be very helpful in covering up edits that you don't want to show.

It depends on the editing style you're going for, but for testimonial videos you'll oftentimes prefer to not see any 'jump-cut' edits in a person's speech. That is, cutting from the same shot of a person to the exact same shot of them again, causing them to 'jump' in the edit. For an example of this jump-cut style of editing, just check out the video posted along with this blog! Jump-cut editing can work if the video has a more care-free feel and is not intended to appear as a polished piece meant to fit in with a brand or sell a product or service. Jump-cut editing has long been the preferred editing style for YouTubers as it allows for quick edits without the need to spend time covering up those edits with b-roll or recording multiple takes to get the perfect delivery with no mistakes.

Most of the time, b-roll will not include any audio and can be overlaid on top of the interview footage. This creates the effect of still hearing the interviewees answers while you are seeing something else in the video. For example, the subject may be answering the question of why they like a particular product, while the b-roll is showing the person in a separate location using that product.

B-roll does not need to directly relate to what is being said (an editing technique sometimes referred to as "mickey-mousing"), as long as it relates to the overall subject of the video. Showing the interview subject walking down the street might not relate directly to their career history, but still relates to the main subject of the video. You surely would not want to show totally unrelated b-roll, as can sometimes be seen in less cared-for edits, perhaps where stock footage is being used (stock footage has a greater chance of appearing less than motivated).

However you go about adding b-roll, whether you're using it cover up edits or simply to add to the storyline and keep the video engaging, you can be sure it will improve the edit over-all. For tips on shooting great b-roll footage, you can check out our last post on this blog.

Edit Away!

That covers five important areas to consider before you start editing a testimonial video. Of course, editing involves many more subtleties and tasks, as well as many techniques and workflows that can be used to your benefit. For now, these five tips should aid in getting you started down the right path. Once learned and performed, you should be able to dive into your edit with less hassle, at a faster pace, and end up with better video in the end!

Tim Clark
Filmmaker, BiteSite