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How to Edit Video Interviews: What Marketers Need to Know

Posted by Catie Foertsch


If you’re creating a video that features one or more interviews, you’ll have far more raw video than you need for the final product. What’s the best process for selecting the clips you want to include in your video? Here are 3 different ways marketers can work effectively to take raw interviews and make good edit decisions.

1. Let your editor make the edit decisions

Sounds like I’m being flip, but I’m serious. It’s a very good idea to have your editor take the raw video interviews and extract the best clips, then use those clips to build the story.

Why is this a good idea?

First, because this is what your editor does for a living. She’s good at it. She knows how to start with a hook, pull the viewer in, build toward the finish, then end with impact.

You, on the other hand, are a marketer. And while you certainly know something about storytelling, you’re trained to tell marketing stories - which can be very different from video stories.

Second, because you are probably too close to your product, service or company to be able to see the forest instead of the trees without a great deal of work. It’s going to be very hard for you to cut, say, one 20 minute interview down to 3 minutes – because all you’ll see is great material you don’t want to cut.

And it’ll be even harder for you to combine three or four or five 20-minute interviews into one 3-minute video.

Your editor, by contrast, can cut ruthlessly because he doesn’t know your company or product or service that well. What he does know is story. So he can build a tight 3-minute story while you’re still struggling to cut 10 minutes from your 60 minutes of raw material.  


What’s the best process for working with an editor?

Again, your editor doesn’t know your company, your product or your service. You do. So you know the points your video must make.

You’ll create for your editor a very high-level edit plan that lays out the bullet points that must be included, and the order you want them in. You’ll add any other pertinent information (like, Joan needs to speak to bullet point #3, or bullet #4 is optional)

Then you’ll turn things over to your editor, and wait for the first draft.

Keep in mind that once you receive that first draft, you can ask for changes. Typical requests that we see are like these:

-  Can you include that wonderful quote from Terry?
-  Too much Bob. Can you trim him a bit?
-  Bullet 1 needs a bit more emphasis

You get the idea. If you leverage your editor’s storytelling skills, you can direct from above, save yourself a great deal of agony, and create a wonderfully effective and engaging video.

But… maybe you prefer to make edit decisions yourself

If so, you can use one of these next two methods to create a list of clips to give to your editor.

2. Work from transcripts

Transcripts are text versions of the spoken words contained in your raw video.

Your video production company will offer transcription as an add-on service. It’s inexpensive, and it’s fast. You can have transcripts just a few days after you film your interviews.

Once you have the transcripts in hand, you can get to work.

Some people print out a paper copy so they can use their highlighter to make selections.
Others work directly in Word or Pages, and use the highlight feature.

Once your selections have been chosen and highlighted, you can copy and paste them into a blank document, so you can see just your selected clips. Now you can move them around to build your story.

As you’re copying and pasting, remember to keep the associated timecodes. 

Your editor will need them to find the right clips. Timecodes look like this: [00:01:19]

Also, if you’re working with multiple interviews... might want to change the font color for each transcript, so that while you’re assembling clips from your different speakers you can easily work with multiple interview clips to build your story. That will look like this:

As a contracting company, we find that it’s good for our customers and good for us to provide an easy-to-use  mechanism for post-project feedback.

It helps us, because we need to know if we’re doing a good job and making our customers happy.

And if we’ve got customers who aren’t happy, we now have the opportunity to correct that.

Pay attention to word count.

The average person speaks at 120 - 150 words per minute. If your final video length is going to be 3 minutes, math tells us that you need a maximum of 450 words. That’s not a lot of words. If you’re having trouble trimming your word count, send your clip selections to your editor and ask them to help you trim further.


But - maybe you don't like the idea of using words on the page to make your edit decisions. In that case, you'll want to try the third method.


3. Work from the actual raw video

People like to work in different ways, and if you don’t like working with text, you can also work directly with the raw interviews.

Ask your editor to post them online, where you can go through them to create a list of clips for your editor to assemble.

To do this, you’ll list where you want each individual clip to start and end, using the interviewee’s name (if there’s more than one) and the timecodes. Your list will look like this:

1:22 - 2:26
3:45 - 3:58

5:52 - 6:21

7:33 - 7:57

11:22 - 11:49


Once you have your list of edits, whether from the transcript or from the actual video, you’ll send your list to your editor. She will then assemble the clips you’ve selected, and send you a video draft to review.

You won’t be able to do a word count, but you can add the clip lengths to gain an understanding of how long your proposed draft will be.

Again, if your draft is long, don’t hesitate to ask your editor for help trimming.  


One of the hardest parts of editing is selecting clips from video interviews, and then arranging those clips, to construct the video’s story.

You can either give your editor guidelines, such as bullet points and themes, or you can make the clip selections yourself, using the above methods.




Topics: What Marketers Need to Know, Corporate Video, Video Production