Tuesday, August 11, 2015

From the Editor’s Desk

At the moment I am mostly up to my eyeballs in Nixon-related tasks, trying to finish up the last bit of pregame work for my American Studies course that begins in a little under two weeks.

I mentioned the class here last week -- “Tricky Dick: Richard Nixon, Poker, and Politics” -- and how it uses the angle of Nixon’s poker playing to explore his super-swingy political career that took him from the deepest valley to the highest mountain and back (to paraphrase his own words).

I’ve been preparing some videos to show the students, including some in which I’ve had a chance to work on my iMovie editing skills. In one video I’ve compiled a number of political ads from 1968. In another I’ve strung together some clips from the White House tapes, including transcripts to read as they go by. (I may at some point share some excerpts from some of the material I’ve created here.)

Today I was experimenting with pulling together another short video cutting back and forth between clips of Nixon talking about his poker strategy and much more familiar moments from various speeches (e.g., “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore,” “I am not a crook”).

I’ve always loved editing -- all kinds. Can be incredibly immersive, too, as I toil away carving something down to fit exactly with my idea for what it should be.

As a writer, I’ve often found revision nearly as rewarding, and sometimes even more so, than the initial drafting. I play guitar and bass and used to do a lot of recording with a four-track, and that, too, was always enjoyable, especially when I got around to working with some audio editing software. Editing video is fun as well, especially with a program like iMovie that allows for easy manipulation of clips and transitions.

The editor is so incredibly powerful when it comes to managing the ultimate message that gets conveyed, regardless of the form and content. Such a truth was acutely illustrated to me today as I spliced together a clip of Nixon saying “I knew when to get out of a pot; I didn’t stick around when I didn’t have the cards” with another of him declaring “I have never been a quitter.”

Now that I think about it, Nixon himself intensely engaged in editing throughout much of his career and afterwards, too.

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