Advanced Video Camera and Editing

Fast Package Editing


A package is a visual story that consists of sound bites and b-roll, natural sound, reporter’s narration, and perhaps one or two reporter stand-ups.  The package is self-contained, playing from start to finish with no studio contribution beyond the anchor introduction and possibly a tag.

Elements of Good Storytelling in a Package:

  • The Visual
  • Sound
  • Writing


Fast methods for editing a package


Before you edit, complete the script so that it may be used as a guide. Don't try to edit and script at the same time. It will only slow you down.

Determine your best sound bites, but also listen to the natural sounds. Pick out short sections of NAT sound, or "NAT pops" that can add to the emotional landscape of your story.

Organizing the Edit

  • Start by capturing the media into your project folder. All media that is relevant to your project should be contained inside the project folder.
  • Import the media into Final Cut Pro. Again, it's important that the media is imported from the project folder, NOT from other locations, i.e., CD's, USB drives, etc. Any media that gets introduced to the project must first be copied into the project folder.
  • In the Browser, organize the clips using separate folders, or bins. For instance, one bin may contain interviews, another for B-roll and another for VO.

Recording the Narration

The narration track is recorded as a single clip in the audio booth. DO NOT start and stop to create new clips each time you record a new track. The reporter should slug each take and precede the read with a countdown, “three-two-one”. At the end of reading the take, pause a couple seconds before going on to the next take or next track. The pause will make it easier to locate separate takes and/or tracks (more on this under Cleaning Up the Full Track).

Additionally, the reporter should note the best takes. That way when you edit you’re not spending more time than necessary trying to locate the better take.

Laying Out the Story in the Timeline

The Full Track

  • Using the script as a guide, start by laying down the VO (narration) track. Place the track in audio channels A3 & A4 - bad takes and all. This is called the Full Track.  Narration should be separate from any bites or natural sound elements that come with the footage, which will be added later.
  • To clean up the Full Track, start by activating the audio waveforms so that they become visible in the clip. Press Option-Command-W. In the audio waveform you should be able to spot the countdown and the pauses between each take. Or you can just scrub the audio until you find the good takes. Knowing what the good takes are will help this process go much faster.

NOTE: In some cases, when you intend to layer video, using the V1 and V2 tracks, it might become necessary to move the VO into channels A5 and A6.

Creating a Tight Track (2 Methods)


With the playhead positioned at the beginning of the track, use the topping keyboard shortcuts (press X, O, and Shift-Delete), to remove the unwanted portions of the clip.


Razor Blade:

Another way to clean up the narration track is to use the Razor Blade tool (press B) to divide the track into the good and bad takes. Make sure the Snapping tool is activated. Highlight the unwanted material and press Delete. The track is Tight once all the unwanted (bad takes) are removed from the narration.

Inserting Sound Bites and Standup(s)

This procedure is known as the Fat Bites stage because its prior to trimming the actual duration of the bites and the stand-up.

  • Insert the sound bites and standups in relation to the narration tracks according to the script. Place the clips so that the video shows in V1 and the audio in A1 & A2. To do so, position the playhead in the Timeline where you want the clip to go. Select the clip in the Viewer and press the Insert button in the Canvas. Each time you insert the clip, the Timeline will expand.
  • Listen to the audio bed, to determine if the story is coherent and is moving in the direction you want.  


Note the series of gaps between the narration track and the bites. These gaps need to be filled with B-roll. This is why the narration track is put on Track A3 so that we can use Tracks A1 & A2 for the B-roll and natural sound.

Trimming Fat Bites into Tight Bites (the Radio Cut)

Once again, use the top and tail methods mentioned above. This method is probably the fastest way to tighten clips once they are inserted in the Timeline.

  • Then adjust your audio levels, add any effects, and output to tape.
  • After laying out the audio, you can now begin filling the gaps with b-roll and inserting other NAT sounds.

The top method:

1)    cue just before the first sound bite

2)    click the Play button

3)    Press the spacebar to stop exactly at the point where you now want the sound bite to start

4) Scrub the clip frame by frame (you can use the arrow keys on the keyboard) in case you missed the In-point.

5)    Press X, O, then Shift-Delete to discard the unwanted material and pull the sequence up. This is called a ripple edit, as it changes the duration of the sequence.

The tail method:

1)    Cue to just before the end of the sound bite

2)    Click Play

3) Stop exactly at the end of the bite. If you miss it, scrub frame by frame

4) Press X, I, then Shift-Delete 

Once the operation is complete you have your radio cut. Play your sequence from the beginning and look away from the video monitor so you can concentrate on listening. Listen to make sure the story follows the script. Also, the radio cut gives you a better sense of the total running time.



Adding B-roll

You now have an edited story with narration and sound bites. Now comes the time to add b-roll, which can be accomplished using slight modifications to the top and tail methods.

  1. Play the sequence from the beginning and stop where you want the first b-roll clip to end.
  2. Mark the clip by pressing X, and update the Out point by pressing O.


NOTE: Be aware that if you don’t mark an In-point, the clip will be edited in from the first frame of video.

You can’t simply drop in the b-roll clip like you did the sound bites. The entire clip would cover the sound bite, even though you marked an In- and Out-point in the Timeline. Your option would be to drag the clip to the Canvas Edit Overlay and drop it the Overwrite box.

Once you drag the clip to the Canvas in the Overwrite area, the clip conforms to the marked area in the Timeline without shifting any of the video clips.



The first shot in the story will need padding to help prevent the director from punching up “black” or a still frame of the story on the air. Also, the director “takes” video once it starts rolling to prevent “up-cutting” the first audio. If the narration or bite begins without any pad, the first word or two will be clipped on the air.

1)    Make sure Linked selection is active.

2)    Choose the Ripple tool by pressing RR.

3)    Click the clip at the start of the sequence to light up the edge of the video and audio track transitions. The narration is excluded since it isn’t linked.


4)    Click one of the transitions and drag to the left, watching the counter. When the counter shows 2 seconds, release. The entire sequence has been pushed earlier in the Timeline by 2 seconds.

Continue adding b-roll. If you need to shift a clip forward or backward without changing its duration, use the Slip tool by pressing S. Slipping is a great way to tweak the content in the Timeline without changing the sequence’s total duration.


Using the Slip tool

1)    Highlight the clip you want to shift

2) Press S to activate the tool

3)    Position the cursor on the clip and move it left or right.


NOTE: You must make sure that the clip you are slipping has enough handle frames on either end. Otherwise, you won’t be able to slip father than the frames available.