News-Style Editing: Using Cutaways with Sound Bites

The task here is to place a cutaway over the edit point of two adjacent sound bites. This is a practical and frequently used technique that requires even a bit more manual labor.

Now it's time to use your video clips. What would work best are two sound bites from the same person that you want to place back to back. If you don't have two such clips, you can use any two clips (plus a cutaway) just to get a feel for how this works. For instance, two soccer goals plus a crowd shot cutaway will work well. Make sure all three clips have video and audio. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Import the sound bites (or whatever clips you're using) plus the cutaway to the Project window.

  2. Delete all the clips in the Timeline window.

  3. Drag the sound bites to the Video 1 track on the timeline, one after the other. Now play the clips. If this is an interview, there probably will be a slight image jump between clip 1 and clip 2 because the interviewee moved a bit or you moved the camera.

The object here is to cover that jump-cut. You'll do that by removing part of the end of the video portion of clip 1 and replacing it with a video-only segment of the cutaway clip. This is a very labor-intensive process that will become second nature once you do it a few times. Figure 7.19 shows the process after completing nine steps so you can see where this is going:

  1. Unlink clip 1 from its associated audio using the Link/Unlink tool from the audio section of the toolbox.

  2. Find a logical place to insert a cutaway at the end of clip 1 by moving the edit line back from the end of the clip. A good amount of time for a cutaway is two to three seconds, so look around there for a logical point to lay in the cutaway (note that as you drag the edit line, the unlinked audio portion does not change). There is no hard-and-fast rule here?simply setting the edit point at three seconds before the junction of the two sound bites will work fine. As you get better at this you'll try to match an interviewee's head movements to the cutaway.

  3. Find and select the Razor tool in the upper-right corner of the toolbox. I've highlighted it in Figure 7.20. Use this to slice the clip 1 sound bite in two by placing it over the edit line and clicking.

    Figure 7.20. The Razor tool lets you slice a clip in two.


  4. Use the Selection tool (keyboard shortcut V) to select the portion of the clip you don't need and delete it, leaving a gap in the video at the end of clip 1.

  5. Locate the cutaway clip in the Project window and drag it to the Video 2 track (not Video 1). The linked audio portion should drop automatically into Audio 2.

  6. Unlink the audio from the video using the Link/Unlink tool.

  7. Delete that unlinked audio portion of the cutaway clip. You don't want the audio portion from the cutaway playing while the interview is playing.

  8. Use the Selection tool to trim the beginning of the video portion of the cutaway clip until you reach a logical spot to begin the cutaway. Typically that's when your interviewer is calmly looking at the interviewee or when the hand shot cutaway matches the hands in clip 1.

  9. Drag the newly trimmed cutaway clip so its beginning lines up with the spot you cut out of clip 1. If this sounds a bit confusing, take a look back at Figure 7.19.

  10. Use the Selection tool to trim the end of the cutaway (or use the Razor tool) so it lines up with the start of clip 2. Because you're using the default "Snap to Edges," all these trims and razor slices should work smoothly. You now have created a cutaway that will fit exactly into the gap you created in clip 1.

  11. Finally, drag the cutaway into the gap. Done. Whew!

Figure 7.19. How your cutaway edit will look after following the first nine steps.


Take a look at your edits to see whether the cutaway plays smoothly and eases the transition between the two clips.

You may notice that using this technique means the cutaway ends exactly as the next sound bite begins. That's a method I like because usually the second sound bite is a new thought and it "feels" more natural to see the interviewee as he or she starts a new comment. That's not always the case, and you may want to move the cutaway farther into clip 2 or even start it right at the beginning of clip 2.


If you slide unlinked audio or video clips along the timeline (as opposed to shortening them by trimming their in- or out-points), you will take them out of sync with their formerly linked partner. Those unsynced clips will have little red triangles at the start of both the audio and video segments to show they are out of sync. If you click and hold that triangle, Premiere tells you how far out of sync the clips are. If you click that triangle and drag the mouse a little ways into the clip and then release, the clip will resync itself with its associated audio or video clip. This applies whether you unlinked clips globally using the Toggle Sync Mode button or individually using the Link/Unlink tool.

    Part II: Enhancing Your Video