Editing Horrors

The bodycam footage of the mass shooting at Covenant School on the grounds of Covenant Presbyterian Church was released by the Nashville police (MNPD). You can watch it for yourself but it shows what you think it would show with of course parts blurred out. 

Whatever you think about releasing this or your opinion about guns, etc, I’ll leave that to you. What I want to go into is the process behind editing and posting this video. 

Somewhere, presumably in the Nashville area, there was a video editor who was assigned to do this. That person may or may not have seen something like this before. But they are the ones that collected the bodycam video, ingested it into an edit system that at a minimum took some time as there were at least 2 cameras in use. Probably an hour. 

They then had to scroll through the video and make what we call a rough cut. This would include going past the unblurred victims on the second floor and the takedown of the school shooter which includes a close up as they remove the weapons from the body. During the first go around, none of this video is blurred nor is any of the other video that you did not see that probably included the victims. An editor sat there and had to go through all of this and then go back and blur this out. 

I have been out of the video world for a minute and have not sat in the edit chair for even longer but blurring pieces of moving video isn’t always the quickest thing to do. You used to have to go frame by frame and then render out the segment to make sure that the blur is covering what you want it to cover. In this case it is blood or the face/body of the deceased. So you may have to look at parts of the video multiple times. 

Basically the horrors of the event you see over and over and over again while putting together the video that you saw online. 

Once the editor was actually done editing, they had to show it to their boss, their boss’s boss and in all likelihood to an attorney or two before actually being able to export and then upload the video for the world to see the edited version. Then you have to find a way to save this video, archive it, and make the decisions as to where it goes, who can access it and if they can, to make sure they get the blurred stuff and not the ‘raw’ video. 

I have some personal experience with this. 

I don’t remember all of the exact details of the event but I can still see some of the images in my head. Many moons ago when I was an promotions editor/producer in Charleston, South Carolina there was a breaking news event just around the corner from the TV station I worked at. It was the holidays (I was leaving to go to California the next day if memory serves correct) and a Christmas tree or lights caught fire in an apartment where several kids lived. Their parents were not home and the fire escalated quickly. When the TV station photographer got there, flames were still coming out of the apartment along with heavy smoke. He caught video of a child in the arms of a firefighter running to the paramedics. You could see the limp arm of the child as the firefighter ran away from the camera. 

The child died. 

I cannot remember the number of those who died and for the life of me I cannot find the story. It was around Christmas time in 2005 I believe. My point is that as an editor, you are sitting there looking at a video of someone who is dying and you have to look at it over and over again. No blurring, no fast forwarding and no turning away. It gets imprinted in your mind whether you want it to be or not. 

During my situation I remember the executive producer in the hallway with the photographer who shot the video consoling him. I believe he was a father of four and he was just struggling with what happened. 

As all this was happening the general manager (GM) of the station came into the newsroom – which as you can imagine was on the verge of all out madness – to congratulate them on doing so well in the November ratings. 

I was beside myself. 

My boss and I had to have discussions on what to use and what not to use, how to archive the video, how to limit the use of the raw video for when we were not around, etc. It was a hard day as it should have been. I do remember that this event caused me to get out of TV news. The only industry I can think of where putting someone on camera means something bad happened to them. 

So as you watch and react to the video from Nashville, think about what it took to get the video to you and what that was like for the people who got it there. 




, ,



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: