How to Cut Scenes From a Movie for a Shorter Story

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Any scenes that are not completely necessary for the story you are telling have no business being in your film. Cut scenes from a movie for a shorter story with help from a professional filmmaker in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Film Editing
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Tom Mitchell and I'm going to help with the question how to cut scenes from a movie for a shorter story. This is a common task when repurposing footage, such as when you are creating a sound byte or a piece for a trailer. We're going to be working in Final Cut Studio 3 but virtually any serious nonlinear editing system will have similar capabilities. This is the opening of an informal house party scene with a current duration of about 75 seconds. We want to cut it down to under a minute. Let's scrub the timeline and get an idea of what we have. One, hostess answers the door, male lead and wife enter. Two, wife and sister-in-law greet. Three, male lead greets sister, then male friend. Four, sister takes seat, five, male lead and friend banters, male lead greets a woman friend. Six, sister delivers line. Seven, cut to friend. Eight, male lead banters. Nine, friend responds. Ten, male lead takes seat. Based on little knowledge of the storyline, I want to start by deleting two clips that don't contribute much and consume almost twelve seconds. Equally important, neither clip has overlapping audio. So, clips two and nine will be deleted. Next we'll be looking for clip ends to trim starting with clip one. From the beginning I start stepping in one second increments holding down the shift key while pressing the right arrow to see what can go. We can remove the first second and still have a second for a fade up before the hostess opens the door. So that's gone. Stepping down we see that the entrance is pretty well over at about three seconds before the clip ends. So cut there. Scene three, sister doesn't appear until three seconds into the clip. So two seconds off the front. From here the principle dialog kicks in so let's go ahead and delete our cuts, clip two and clip nine and see how we're doing, about 58 and 1/2 seconds. So we've met that goal. One more thing I want to change though, I want to replace clip seven with additional frames from clip six, because clip seven is the only remaining shot in its angle and it looks odd. So we delete clip seven, unlink clip six so the video can be extended, pull out clip six. There, that should do it. From here we would go to checking all the edits for black space making sure the audio is complete and then polishing. So there it is, how to cut scenes from a movie for a shorter story. I'm Tom Mitchell and thanks for watching.


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