The seconds are adding up: Hitting 26:40

For two weeks I lived, ate and breathed Afghanistan.  My pervasive thought as I was embedded with the Minnesota National Guard in Afghanistan was,  “If I don’t see it through the lens of my camera it didn’t happen”   While I was hoping around from FOB Apache, to FOB Smart, to FOB Bullard and on to FOB Viper I kept my camera at the ready and ended up bringing home about a terabyte of video.

As I’ve previously shared, some of the video, okay, a lot of the video is unusable.  I must have a plodding gate for the walk-along footage in markets, bazaars and villages is too bouncy, to my credit my camera is really lightweight.  Though I had a nice shot gun mic with an ample wind screen the Afghan wind proved tough to overcome so there’s a lot of natural sound that was swept away.  The interviews I conducted were conducted by a producer with a tired brain.  As I watch them looking for sound gems I find myself talking to the computer, “ask the follow up…c’mon, you moron”.

Editing is a lonely process.  Many hours have been spent examining the footage I shot.  The deficiencies become glaring.  Work arounds are created.  Storylines of ironed out.  I actually begin to like the project, I’m entertained, I think.  Days I can spend editing at home; in peace and quiet…and daylight…are productive.  This is one of those days.


A composite image of the screen I’ve spent hours upon hours staring at…

The Final Cut Pro timeline now tells me I’ve strung a show together that is 27 minutes, 49 seconds and 13 frames long.  I’ve not set time aside for the show open or the closing credits yet, so realistically I’m looking at a show that is 29 minutes long.  A half-hour in the PBS world is 26:40; so I still have some work to do.

The result of a show that is 26:40 is the tour of Afghanistan takes on a quick pace.  I’m still able to drop in some seconds of reflection; what does it sound like to walk in Afghanistan, listen to the voice of the interpreter, see the face of the child, feel empathy, pride, exhaustion.  These moments, though they take up talking time allow for the viewer to feel like they are with the ADT.

With each pull up, each time I take out an ‘umm’, each time I slice out an unintended pregnant pause, each time I delete a redundancy I find myself gaining a second, or 2, or 10…they add up.  Slicing interviews will get me to time.  Bringing the show in under 26:40 will allow my editor, Jerry Lakso, and me to build back in moments that help you feel like you’re there.

Thanks for reading…