How to Make a Head Teacher Look and Sound Good

 In Cornwall, Corporate

The above title “How to Make a Head Teacher Look and Sound Good” was designed to be both pithy and eye-catching.  However, it  is inaccurate as far as a depiction of Helen Campbell, Head of Pencalenick School, Truro goes.  The title should have read, “How to Make a Head Teacher Look and Sound Even Better When Speaking to Camera.” But that is far too verbose for my purposes.

Have a look at the raw footage of Helen waxing lyrical about yours truly and Piran Films. Helen kindly offered to do this testimonial video for me after filming three days filming on location and producing five short informational videos for the Pencalenick School website.



Helen completed the above piece to camera (sync.) in her first and only take. I had set up my video camera (Sony PMW F3) on a tripod (Miller DS 20) and used just an on board light (Aladin A-Lite LED Panel) and was in and out of her office within twenty minutes.

The biggest challenge I had when editing out the  “umms” and long pauses within some of Helen’s sentences. There was a third person – a speech therapist – in the office from an earlier meeting; she pointed out that we all use “umms” either to offer a pause in our speech patterns or as an opportunity to think, momentarily, about what we want to say next. But they had to go …. and I remember saying that to Helen at the time.

It is relatively easy to edit out all of the “umms;”  but you are left with a series of “jump cuts.” These may be OK and the stock in trade for young “YouTubers,” but they are not good for a professional videographer. “So how do you overcome this problem?” There are at least two options available to the editor.

(1)  The first is to use Adobe Premiere Pro’s new video transition effect, the “morph cut.” It basically smooths out the jump cut. I used that once in the edit, if you can find it.

(2) The second option to cover these visually irritating jump cuts is to use B roll footage and I had plenty at hand. Warning: this can be overdone! “Wallpaper” is the term that is often used when overused. The images (in my case, of the staff and pupils and Pencalenick School buildings and grounds) are assigned to a second video track on the timeline and lined up in a way that covers the jump cuts. Editing theory demands that each B roll clip should selected should have either a primary or a secondary association with the sync. So when Helen refers to her teaching staff, there is a shot of one the teachers at the school. This is a primary association. When Helen says “he could put the staff at their ease”, I use a clip from a Yoga class. This is a secondary association.

Removing  jump cuts and pauses can also present problems of an audible nature. Instead of visual jarring, there may be clicks, part of previous works or differences in audio levels where the cut occurs.

How to make a Head teacher look and sound good(1) The easy way around the problem is to use Adobe’s constant power audio dissolves. To make it sound like a really seamless transition (that’s where the phrase comes from I guess), I tend to shorten the length of  the dissolve. It is amazing the difference that this trade secret makes.

(2) I will also put the completed audio track through Adobe Audition and apply a number of effects, such as  noise reduction, amplification and graphic equalizer.

Having dealt with the jump cuts – around 20 of them – one has to add “breathing space” into the timeline. This is achieved easily – again through the use of the B roll footage and the addition of a music track, which ties everything together. Helen chose this music from the Music Vine website that I often use.

Now for the second part of  how to make a head teacher look and sound great – even better, I should say. Again there are at least two ways of achieving this. The first is to adopt the principle “less is more” and recognise that a talking head (no pun intended, even for me!) is no longer in vogue. So, hence another reason for some decent B roll footage to break up the visual sync. You see this all of the time on TV, even in the “Queen’s Christmas Day Speech.”

The second solution is to use colour correction software. I use Adobe’s “Colour” to enhance my images and make them pop. I tend to tweak the exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, blacks and vibrance settings and save them as a preset. That’s another reason why I will always use some form of artificial lighting when  filming in doors. I like to get some light reflection in the eyes and light shadows on the cheek line to create the illusion of 3D. I go a step further with my 35mm lens selection to create a shallow depth of field. Notice how the background papers on the notice board are thrown out of focus.

One further step I could have taken to enhance the video would have been to have added a layer of sound effects and used some of the original ambient noise. I may still do this if I decide to use this video on my home page.

So that is how to make a head teacher look and sound good and here is the edited version of Helen speaking to camera with all of the above techniques applied to the original footage:



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