Television Broadcasting Tutorial 33

Documentaries Part 5: Editing

The documentary finally comes together in the edit suite as the content that has been recorded is assembled into the recognisable shape of a documentary film. This is one of the most creative, rewarding – and sometimes hugely frustrating – parts of the process. There are five stages:

  • View everything that has been shot in advance – the rushes – and make a long assembly of the footage that succeeds in telling the story outline
  • Shape this assembly of raw footage into a long-ish rough cut, which looks like a proper documentary
  • After feedback from a first viewing, this rough cut is turned into a fine cut, which looks more like the final version and is nearly cut to time
  • After viewing the fine cut, final changes are made and picture lock, which means no more changes to footage
  • Finally, script lock – the script is signed off, recorded and laid on the final version of the documentary

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Television Broadcasting Tutorial 32

Documentaries Part 4: Filming

The shooting treatment is the culmination of a process that has seen the outline become a treatment, and finally the shooting treatment. This is the guide to what needs to be filmed to tell your story. From this evolves a shot list of what needs to be filmed to illustrate each stage of the story, and the script, which also starts to take shape during pre-production. The script is driven by the narrative, and is revised and rewritten throughout the production process until the edit is complete. If there is voiceover, this will probably be the last thing to be recorded, so the script is active right up to the end of the production.

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Television Broadcasting Tutorial 31

Documentaries Part 3: Pre-Production


Pre-production on a documentary is when you develop your knowledge on the subject of your film. You assume nothing, and research everything. A documentary filmmaker should do their own research so that they can become experts on the subject: they have to know their topic inside out. The best films reveal information that is surprising; it could be new facts or a revealing perspective on an established argument. So here are four simple rules when researching: 1) don’t be afraid to ask simple questions; 2) don’t pretend to know all the answers; 3) don’t assume what you think you know already is correct; 4) approach everything you learn with an open mind.

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Television Broadcasting Tutorial 30

Documentaries: Part 2

The Story

The very first thing that every documentary filmmaker has to think about is the story: what the film is about and why it will engage an audience. Is it an interesting perspective on the world, or will it provide access to a section of society rarely seen on television? Most importantly, will someone care about the film or the characters in it? And who is the intended audience?

What about how the film is made: what is the hook of the story? What is the essence of what makes the subject interesting? Is it a visual story? If not, can it made visual? These are some of the questions that will be discussed within this series of posts that will examine the production process.

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Television Broadcasting Tutorial 29

Introduction to Documentaries

The 15 key principles of filmmaking

This is an introduction to a series of tutorials about the making of documentaries that will combine to offer a comprehensive understanding of how to produce and direct non-fiction films. It will reveal how to research and develop story ideas, how to create compelling and engaging narratives and how to achieve access to the subject of a film.

Journalistic skills are encouraged to engage a viewer emotionally and intellectually. The story is grounded in fact, not fiction, but is subjective and not objective. This is because active, subjective choices are made throughout the filmmaking process, no matter how balanced, fair and neutral the filmmaker tries to be. But this doesn’t detract from the power of the film, or its worth as an accurate and honest account of a subject of interest.

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Television Broadcasting Tutorial 28

Storytelling for Television Recap

This recap tutorial collects a number of videos produced by Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication. They may look a bit retro and ‘old skool’ in style and appearance, but the content is as relevant today and it’s ever been. The videos are a great way to recap on the core principles of storytelling for television.

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Television Broadcasting Tutorial 27

Sports Broadcasting Rights

As we approach the business end of the football season, the business end of football becomes increasingly important. Premier league survival is more important this season than ever before, whilst promotion to English football’s elite division has never looked so appealing. The reason for this is simple: the staggering sums of money now associated with broadcasting rights to show premier league football matches both in this country and abroad.

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Television Broadcasting Tutorial 24



This is the fifth and final post in a series of tutorials about how to edit with Adobe Premiere Pro 6… and, rather appropriately, it contains five final tips.

Special thanks to


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Television Broadcasting Tutorial 18




This tutorial offers tips and advice on how to edit video and audio, and record audio for radio and audio podcasts. It’s a final reminder for students before they start full production, and will hopefully answer any questions that crop up during the production and post-production process.

Premiere Pro 6

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Television Broadcasting Tutorial 9


A guide to online video and videoblogging on YouTube, and how to use SEO to maximise their impact. This builds on information discussed in Tutorial 6.

The television broadcast professionals of tomorrow will be multi-skilled. Of that, there is no doubt. They will seamlessly move from television to online content, and chances are they will be operating across a number of different platforms simultaneously. So it’s essential that programme-makers are aware of how online content is made and how the demands on them differ slightly.

Putting performing cats to one side for the moment (…did you know that 30,400,000 searches for ‘cat’ are made on Google every month? Yes, more than 30million!!!), online content has developed its own grammar.

Online journalism for instance, is video and text working together to tell a complete story. A journalist can write an article and embed a video alongside it to give a more rounded, 360-degree account of the news event, or he/she can make a video first and then write text to add another layer to the narrative. The story can be developed further with audio podcasts, pictures and links to other content online.

Online video was explored in Tutorial 6 which you may want to refer back to…

Another area where online video is proving useful is in helping to promote a company brand, which is the subject of this tutorial. Today, it’s vital that a business has a strong online presence, and company managers are quickly realising that video should be central to a marketing campaign.

The fact is that we are a visual society. Companies upload hours of video to websites, Twitter and Facebook. But this has to be quality video that engages an audience. Bad video gets ignored straight away because we simply don’t have the time to decipher and digest it.

This tutorial will discuss the following:

  • How to make online video with impact that engages a target audience
  • SEO – Maximizing the impact of a videoblog by attracting a large audience

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