The Importance of Coverage for an Editor

When Issues was still in its early stages, I attended an event held by New York Women in Film & Television.  At that event, the creators of the Midwest Teen Sex Show (a sex education show distributed solely on the web) talked about how they made their series successful.  They also offered points for others who wanted to make a web show.

Drinks weren’t allowed at the event.  Which is good, because I would have spit whatever I was drinking at the person in front of me when they stood up and told everyone that coverage doesn’t matter, and that you don’t really need it, not to worry about it, etc.

For a show formatted like MTSS, a straightforward, informational show, this may be true.  But to flatly claim that coverage isn’t important?  For any show that doesn’t break the 4th wall, it’s vital.  As a series, one of the things that Issues severely lacked in it’s first season was adequate coverage.  The result: some actors are not on the camera when they are speaking.  I got to find out the true flexibility of high definition footage when manipulating it to hide imperfections because cutaways weren’t available.  Let’s just say it is capable to make a light disappear from a set through drastic zooming and what proved to be very strategic placement of our actors.  (Noah, you will never fully understand how your body position and choice of motions absolutely saved that shot.  Thank you.)

In short, a lot of the editing on the show wasn’t a stylistic choice, it was a necessity.  Because of a lack of coverage.

Now, I’m not saying that half of what you shoot needs to be coverage.  But plan accordingly.  If a scene calls for 4 angles, shoot the 4 angles.  At worst, you don’t use them all.  But if you don’t get them, you’re editor is going to end up needing them and you are going to compromise the quality of your piece.  So be wise in choosing coverage.  It will allow your editor to have the flexibility to give you the best edit possible.  And it will be truer to the vision you saw in your head when you first decided to take this script and bring it to an audience.  It will mean that you need to be strict.  You will have to honor your schedule.  You will have to be ready to delegate extensively to make sure everything is done in a timely matter.  But in the end, you will have the choice of what your cut looks like based on your favorite takes – and not be stuck choosing between a take with less than ideal delivery or one where there’s cables running through the background of the fame.

Coverage seems trivial, but it creates a feeling of professionalism to the piece, because it adds variety to the final cut, and can hide any errors that weren’t picked up on during production.

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