Tip of the Week | Using Sound to Effect Rhythm and Pacing

When you make an edit, it’s an important decision.  Each edit should advance your story.  So when do you make an edit?  There are many reasons.  Your story should have a rhythm, like a good song has a good beat.  How do you find your rhythm? Here’s an idea.  Follow the rhythm of the narration and the soundbites.

This is a story I produced for Emily Griffith Technical College profiling a successful graduate.  Throughout this story I use the rhythm of my narration and the rhythm of Lindsay’s soundbites to help make edit decisions.


The 1st shot of the story is Lindsay walking to her salon station. My narration is, “Lindsay Gore, preps for another client.” I make an edit on the word preps. The tight shot of hair stay up on screen from :03 to :06.

Lindsay says, “It’s pretty crazy in here. We do a lot of business.” After she says here, I make an edit. I’m finding natural pauses to help me make edit decisions.screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-11-17-55-am

At :09 my narrations is, “This full service salon is Strandz hair studio.” My edit is on the word isIs is a natural moment of pause in the narration.

At :13 she says, “I do own Strandz.” Then she says, “I bought it two years ago. I worked here for almost 9 years before I bought it. In the back of my mind I always knew I would like owning my own salon and I love it.” I make two edits based on the rhythm of her voice. At :19 she completes her thought I bought it. At :21 she completes the thought my own salon. I make an edit after salon but before she starts her next thought which is I love it.

My next narration at :22 is, “It takes a lot to run a business.”


I make an edit between  a lot and to run.  I’m following the flow of my narration to help me decide when to make an edit.

At :28 her soundbite is, “After I started at Emily Griffith, I had a cousin in Cosmetology school at another place.”  I choose to make the edit after the word cousin.  I felt a natural pause in the rhythm of her voice at that moment.  I made the edit based on that.

Further into that soundbite at :33 she completes a thought, “At another place.” After place I make an edit.  Please watch the entire story and pay attention to when I make decision and how the rhythm of narration and soundbites can help with edit decisions.

Want another example?

Here is a story by the current NPPA Photographer of the year Rob Collett.

The 1st soundbite of the story it, “Baby. Black grey. 17 pounds. Rob makes an edit after the word grey and before he says 17.  Then the narration begins.  “Missing poster after missing poster.”  Rob makes an edit after poster in the narration.  Rob’s using the rhythm of the narration to help in his edit decisions.


At :10 the narration is, “Each, hand written and personalized.”  The edit is after each and before hand.

At :18 the soundbite is, “Oh I love his face, he’s a kisser boy.  Rob makes and edit after the word face and before the word he.  Please continue watching the story by Rob.  Pay attention to the exact moment when he makes an edit.  There is a definite rhythm to the story.  There is a definite effort to make edit decisions based on the rhythm of the narration of soundbites.

These little things can take your editing to the next level.