Selects Reel

An approach to selecting footage for visually undefined segments.

Misha Tenenbaum avatar
Written by Misha Tenenbaum
Updated over a week ago

Building an edit specifically with scripted scenes, where the coverage reflects the moment to moment dramatic progression of a scene as written on the page is often straight forward to initially assemble. However, there are times when filmmakers have to edit sequences from less structured segments, such as work that contain Montage sequences, series shots, or other types of media presentations with interviews like a documentary or reality style television.

In these instances, the editor assembling the cut may be presented with various supplementary shots of people, places, landscapes, or objects in what we term B-Roll. B-Roll can be used to help transition or establish locations or provide visually complimentary shots to intercut with stylized moments or interview based content.

B-roll shots aren't grounded in specific dramatic, moment to moment scripted content. However, the filmmaker has to find ways to make cohesion out of a variety of coverage in order to determine a plan to incorporate them into the edit. One technique for approaching these segments is to build a Selects Reel, which is a sequence that includes all of the images that “strike” the filmmaker viewing the footage. This does not mean every shot on a Selects Reel will be used in the final edit, but it allows the filmmaker an easy way to single out the shots that they feel are the best.

Building and Utilizing a Selects Reel

In the initial build of the Selects Reel, the editor adds footage for consideration to a new sequence, dropping clips into a timeline from the media library in no particular order. Next, the filmmaker decides on what shots should stay in the edit, at least initially. After this, they can rearrange the footage in any order they feel works best for the sequence.

Since the intention of Selects Reel will be to narrow it down, it's wise to duplicate the initial Selects Reel sequence, rename and work from the duplicated file for the next version in case the filmmaker decides they want to revisit the original Select Reel of shots that they discarded. It's common to find that some shots no longer work as you had initially hoped, once you start seeing the edit come together. That's okay! When this happens, go back to your earlier Selects Reel to reevaluate what shot(s) you want to try out. That is the beauty of editing!

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