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The Possibilities of Video Editing in 2020

Reflecting on the video editing process of Paddling for Happiness


The Possibilities of Remote Video Editing in 2020 by Michael Durban

When I first heard Martin’s story down in Cornwall at Jaxons Surfboards, I knew I wanted to meet Martin himself and hopefully discuss the possibility of sharing his story with the online surfing community, and perhaps beyond. Fast forward to our 5 minute cut with an online release which generated world-wide features with the likes of MagicSeaweed, Zigzag Mag and Surfer Magazine to name a few.

As a director I could not have been more happy with how Paddling for Happiness was received within the surfing community as a whole which included world re-known Kelly Slater, who shared PFH on his personal Instagram page. With 12 film festival selections and multiple features world-wide, I still felt I had some unfinished business. Having looked at what we as a team had shot and

generated along the way I decided to bring Paddling for Happiness back into production to achieve a 20+ minute cut of the documentary. Having limited time working on multiple documentaries during this period, I decided to work with Ocean Driven Media, a production company I had worked with for many years in Durban, South Africa.

A frame from Paddling for Happiness – Durban Media

Having worked with Ocean Driven Media before with the likes of Mathew Swart, I was confident with what we could achieve. However, with myself working all the way in England, specifically Newcastle upon Tyne and the video editing team in Durban, South Africa, this certainly posed a few challenges ahead of us. The biggest challenge I faced as director was not being physically present during the video editing process, as I like to be physically present to witness the development of the final project.

What this meant was that I had to fully trust ODM with the editing process. Barry Hampe notes the importance of choosing a video editor in the quote below*. Being able to trust ODM with the editing process was a huge weight off my shoulders which meant I could work on multiple projects and not be overwhelmed or sacrifice quality between productions. We were able to do this by making use of Skype, WhatsApp and FaceTime.

However, we ensured a balanced level of communication during the video editing process.By doing this I felt we showed a level of respect and trust for each others craft and subsequently our editing process and schedule through out the project went as smoothly as it could. By staying in contact for weekly updates we were able to ensure the 20 minute cut of the documentary transformed into something we are quite proud of today.

“As with every other phrase of the documentary process, you will have to face the question of who is going to edit your program…Your editor lives in the world of concrete images. All he or she has to work with is what has been recorded on the film or videotape. Good intentions no longer count. Footage is everything. And a good creative editor can help you understand exactly what you have, and what you don’t have, and how to use it.”

Making Documentary Films and Reality Videos | Barry Hampe

and Some words from Mathew Swart | Ocean Driven Media

“Remote working is the new buzz word of 2020 so I thought it is a good time to reflect on how we have done this before without even realising it. Michael Durban, a good friend of mine who had worked with me before moving to the UK a few years ago, got hold of me suggesting he has enough footage to turn the 5minute documentary into a longer 20minute story. I couldn’t resist the chance to be part of telling a great

story. Once we had a vision for the production the next step was transferring well over 100GB of footage to us here at OD Media in South Africa. Thankfully broadband and fibre access has developed in all the major cities in SA because a couple years back, as Mike can probably remember when he was still in SA, that downloading so much footage could take weeks on snail

paced ADSL internet. The solution we found was super simple, using Adobe Creative Cloud we shared and synced footage back and forth. We even shared the Premiere project files so if either of us opened the latest file, the footage could link locally on our systems and we could see any work done on previous edits.”


Mathew Swart from ODM editing in Business Class on a flight to Kenya

“I would always keep a copy of the edit with me on a hard drive because sometimes an idea comes to mind one day you want to work into the story, then it was just a matter of finding an hour to edit the idea in. Editing on a plane is a great way to make use of the time when the creative juices are flowing. Especially when you get bumped to business class. What did we learn the most through our remote working setup?
I would definitely say that we learned communication and expectations are key. It was a long time before I could actually show

Mike anything that resembled progress. I would attempt to explain my ideas of how I saw the edit unfolding from the direction he had given me without him being able to look at anything substantial. Once we got the first few drafts reviewed the process got easier and we fell into our groove, sending drafts back and forth. Mike would sit and make time-coded notes of changes for me, then we would chat about ideas and discuss our thoughts. It also took a lot of trust from Mike to give me the direction, and then step back to let us make it happen 

with our own unique input. Having an open mind from both of us made this easier too, we were happy to hear each other’s ideas. Finally we got to the point when it was all done, we could put the film online and share the longer story with the world. Hopefully the story is inspiring and shows how the mental and physical challenges life can throw at us can both be just as tough, but a little bit of surfing could be just what the doctor ordered. 

CLICK HERE to read Matt’s full contribution in his blog post!

Martin Pollock at Retallack Resort FlowRider

my conclusions as a director and video editor

After writing this blog post and comparing notes with ODM, the one thing we agreed on the most was the online communication aspect of our production. Without this dynamic, I feel we would have battled significantly during the video editing process.
Therefore my opinion in working across continents with other creatives/video editors/directors to name but a few, is extremely possible if you apply good communication. With Covid-19 completely changing the landscape of the media industry this skill in itself may become even more valuable in society today.

Am I suggesting that we all start collaborating with post production houses all over the word? Yes and no, because it should first come down to the needs of the production, schedule and your clients. For Paddling for Happiness’s 20 minute cut, my restrictions in availability at the time was very limited, therefore I was able to justify the use of branching out and use a group of creatives that I trusted to handle my expectations and ambitions. This gave me as the director/producer, the freedom to focus on my various local projects in the United Kingdom at the same time.

When would I say no? If you do not have 100% trust in the ability of the editor you are handing your work over to, then I would say you are heading down a tricky road. If this is the case then you would be better off seeking a local editor you are familiar with. This is arguably one of the reasons why networking today is so important, especially with technology as advanced as it is today. So to conclude, the options are limitless to how you can achieve a successful video production. As long as you have a team in place which you can communicate, trust and respect, then I would say that you are heading towards a successful post production process.

Paddling for Happiness 2019 | by Michael Durban

Special thanks goes out to the following:

Editing My bag and I 2019

Pictured is Michael Durban of Durban Media, filming My bag and I 2019 in Falmouth, Cornwall

As the director and editor of My Bag and I (MBAI), I was able to think about the editing process before we had even shot our first interview. Knowing we had a lot of video content to shoot and edit within the production schedule, I had to choose the optimal video editing software which would also give the production its’ desired results.

When it came to editing MBAI, I opted to edit with Premiere Pro CC over other editing software such as Avid Media Composer. I made this decision for various reasons but it really came down to the overall video editing needs of the production which I will detail below.

The needs of a project come first

For My Bag and I, I had to edit a 20 + 5 + 2 + 1 minute cut of the documentary as well as four social media cuts promoting the documentary which included behind the scenes footage during the production process. In total I had around 12 videos to edit and we had budgeted 3 video editing weeks to complete this task.

During this stage I had two video editing software options to choose from, the first being Avid Media Composer and the second Adobe Premiere Pro. Both editing softwares are well known within the television and media industries and for good reason. So when it came down to making a decision for my production I was torn between the two but opted to use Adobe Premiere Pro.

Why? Avid Media Composer is without a doubt one of the best editing platforms in the industry today, however in my experience as a freelancer, most editors I have come across do not have mobile access to Avid compared to that of Adobe Premiere Pro. This was certainly the case for MBAI with all crew involved including myself at the time. Should I have added a 12 month subscription for Avid to the production budget, not likely but possible if it had come down to it. This however was not the only factor I based my decision on. Premiere Pro is well known for its’ ease of use and fast turn around times for smaller projects, especially social media content. With this in mind and its’ powerful and improved colour-grading features I was happy to commit to Premiere Pro for all of our video content going forward for this project.

How did this effect the production? I was able to video edit physically at the studio as well as on the move with crew members at different locations such as Falmouth in Cornwall and up North in Newcastle upon Tyne. I will be writing another blog post on this benefit with Ocean Driven Media in South Africa where we edited a project together yet we were continents apart. Being able to edit on the move definitely helped us keep up with the production schedule of My Bag and I which is arguably one of the most important tasks to achieve in order to stay within the video editing budget and to keep your clients happy with the service you provided them with.

A frame from My Bag and I 2019, pictured is Hari Ryder from Wales who shared her powerful story with us.













To conclude this blog post I thought I would reflect on Adobe Premiere Pro’s friendly workflow between an often forgotten part of the production process which is arguably one of the most important aspects of any video production; post sound.

Without concise mixed levelling of a video edit as well as the correct use of foley, an edit can be jarring and often distract from the overall message of the edit itself. To put this into better context I contacted a good friend and colleague who I have worked with over the years called Chris Hirst-Bartlett, a qualified and talented Pro Tools user. Chris describes the benefits working between Pro Tools and Adobe Premiere Pro below:

“Premier Pro’s ability to export projects in multiple formats is a blessing when it comes to the editor/ audio mixer relationship. With an editor putting audio in place during their process to use as a guide for pacing, tone, dialogue; Premier then gives the option to export as an OMF file, which makes editing/ replacing said audio elements considerably easier for the post-sound dept.”

Reflecting back at the video editing process for My Bag and I, I can confidently assure any new content creators that by using Adobe Premiere Pro alongside Pro Tools is a sure way to progress through a large or small scale video production. I would however warn against my above statement.

Why? In a nutshell, shit happens. Be prepared by factoring in additional time into your production for when things do go wrong from an editing software point of view. Updates, bugs and other unforeseen factors may come into play during your production, so my advice is to have multiple back-ups on separate external drives as well as factoring additional time as mentioned above and you will be on your way to managing your video editing schedule successfully.