Taking a cue from hit movies like Memento, Pulp Fiction, and Sliding Doors, I have successfully from chronological editing and unveiled a new storytelling device called "The Timeshift."
I developed the Timeshift to show the viewer how to juxtapose short, loosely connected scenes, so as to give the impression of freshness or spontaneity. My hope was to introduce a fresh, vital, staccato presentation of visual material as a direct reflection of changes in our perception of the passage of time.
The concept doesn't just apply to sequential video; it applies to all the conventional ways we're accustomed to presenting and receiving the material. Why are still-life photographs of the happy couple growing up routinely placed at the beginning of a piece, and not at the end, or even randomly positioned throughout? Rigidly defined cinematic clichés lack the flair that makes a film or video interesting, unconventional, and re-watchable.
The mind can construe meaning from a non-sequential, unpredictably presented narrative. It does not need to be force-fed with a chronologically intact sequence of words, images, or even sounds to make sense of an experience. If you step outside the envelope of your experience, you'll soon realize that there is no pre-defined approach that all wedding and the bar mitzvah editors must slavishly follow.
The star of the Timeshift is the storytelling device. Using a rotating scenario, it jumps around from one short scene to the next. Each scene, however, is thoughtfully placed, with the intention of provoking, rather than confusing the viewer.
The Timeshift is a joy to experience, and it packs so much energy and invention into telling its non-chronologically interwoven short segments, it leaves viewers both exhilarated and exhausted. The viewer is left wondering, "What's going to come up next?"
Using this device will set you apart from your competition. But will your clients understand it? The answer is a resounding yes! Ever since I introduced this new process, I have been reaping the financial rewards.
You can sell a Timeshift version as an add-on, or—if you find you enjoy editing these as much as I do--you can add the price of producing them into your regular packages.
How to sell it: The first step is to gauge your client's personality. Are they conservative, traditional, or adventurous? If they seem to be looking for something a little daring and different from the predictable fair, ask them, "Do you want to see something really different?" It will really sell itself once the client sits down to see it; chances are they have never seen anything quite like it and will want it, even if they have to pay a premium (and they should--it does take longer to edit).
The Timeshift will also help you win the client's total trust as far as artistic control is concerned. Our clients interfere less and less in the creative process these days, because I believe they perceive us as artists and not just wedding videographers. This is crucial, especially if you want to command high prices.
How to shoot it: The Timeshift edit requires absolutely no change in the way you shoot an event. But since you are now delving into new editing territory, you might want to try new ways of shooting, perhaps experimenting with some of those cool techniques you saw demonstrated at the last WEVA Expo. How to edit it: There are countless ways to achieve a successful edit, but these are some of the techniques that have helped me create my Timeshifts:
• I digitize all the raw footage.
• I find unique music, at least 10 songs. This is key, but the selection process (and use) are too complex to explain here. Perhaps in a future article.
• I create a skeleton and then build on it.
• I experiment with the order until it feels right. I try to find a balance between ceremony footage and reception footage, and create lots of music segments in-between highlights. I also experiment with voice over, taken from readings or toasts and placed out of context.
• I edit for a target length of about 40 minutes.
How to use it as a marketing tool:
• I try, at every available chance, to educate party planners and wedding coordinators about what we're doing. I speak at their meetings whenever possible. These vendors are a critical link between videographers and potential clients, and I feel they must be kept up to date with the latest trends in our field.
• Word of mouth, our Web site, press releases and newsletters have all proven to be important tools for getting the word out too.
Ultimately, the biggest advantage of Timeshift video is not what it can do for your business—it's what it can do for you as an editor and an artist. We're all nonlinear editors, after all, and we can all benefit from becoming nonlinear thinkers as well. So take a chance. Broaden your horizons. You might really like the results!