In their ACES 2018 session, How Does a Copy Editor Pivot to Video, Kaitlyn Jakola and Ali Killian discussed how and why copy editors edit video content.
Jakola and Killian are, respectively, the copy chief and deputy copy chief of Mic. They’ve been editing video content at Mic for more than two years.
Jakola and Killian said that copy editing video is a chance for copy editors to improve video, which is becoming increasingly important in journalism. Copy editing video also helps editors prove their value to company leaders.
By copy editing videos, they said, editors can improve clarity, accuracy, transparency, consistency and responsibility, which can put an organization’s brand above its competitors.
It’s also vital to catch video errors before they’re published, they said, because video mistakes take longer to fix, so they do more damage to your brand.
They also said that copy editing video helps video makers become better and more consistent storytellers, especially since many video makers don’t have journalistic training.
Jakola and Killian shared their steps for how to edit a video:
- Before filming, producers prepare either a script or a fact sheet. Fact check these documents for accuracy. If it’s a script, also check grammar and spelling. (At Mic, producers have to cite sources in their scripts, so copy editors don’t have to do all the fact checking. This speeds up the editing process.)
- After filming, producers update the script to match the video. Edit the script and the video. Check accuracy again and mark any necessary changes. Mark changes in the video using a productivity tool called Frame.io, which allows editors to append comments directly to a video timestamp. Send it back to the producer to make corrections.
- Finally, watch the video one final time. Make sure all necessary changes were completed and that there are no additional errors.
For style suggestions on editing for video, see the Mic style guide’s addendum on video.
Jakola and Killian acknowledge that editing video presents its own challenges. Things to keep in mind:
- Editing video takes a long time, but deadlines are short. Sometimes it's not worth taking 30 minutes to re-export a video to fix a small error, such as a missing hyphen.
- Even text-heavy videos are more limited than a written story. Work extra hard to ensure clarity.
- It may be necessary to turn text into a visual. For example, instead of listing a bunch of numbers, use visual aids, like charts.
- You can’t always tell producers to reshoot video. Instead, you may have to leave parts of a video out. Offer workarounds and suggest alternatives. Sometimes you have to work with producers on storytelling aspects that editors don’t usually work on.
- Many copy editors aren’t seasoned in visual thinking. Still, work hard to ensure that the texts and visual elements complement each other.
- Study copyright and fair use policies for video and images. Help producers create content that won’t be flagged for copyright violations.
- Many producers and video creators are foreign to copy editing. Teach them what copy editing is. Help them realize that you are there to help them, not destroy their creativity. Eventually, they will begin to appreciate the safety net that you offer.
Jakola and Killian also provided a glossary of video terms:
- SOT (sound on tape): Recorded audio to be used in its original form.
- VO (voiceover): Usually recorded in studio, can often be re-recorded to correct errors.
- Time code: Point in a video file where a particular clip can be found.
- V1, V2, etc.: labels for source footage.
- IMG1, IMG2, etc.: labels for source images.
- Radio edit: initial edit after filming.
PHOTO: Ali Killian, left, and Kaitlyn Jakola speak April 28 during ACES national conference in Chicago. Photo by Nolan Brey.
Nolan Brey is a student at the University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communication.