So you want to know about editing? You do. Good stuff, because you’ve came to the right place, or so I tell myself. You see this blog post here is going to be the only thing you’ll need when it comes to editing – don’t even bother with any other editing blog posts from other people – what you need is right here! 🙂 And I know what you’re thinking, you’d rather just read something on the Daily Mail, watch some TV and play a video game – why the hell would I want to read this? And my answer to that is… yeah I rather would too. But this is supposed to (probably won’t – I thought the same thing 3 assignment briefs ago) be our last assignment for a while and so I need to get this thing done, dusted and out the way. So without further ado, as I do like a good old waffle, I think I better crack on. Well I will in a minute, as I forgot to tell you something rather important – well not too important, but i wanted to let you know anyway. This assignment will be divided up to 3 sections (if you pretend this one doesn’t exist), which will be separated with bold text. I’m trying to keep this simple for you guys, as not everybody is smart enough to realise this. Alright, I’ll stop now – I’m getting sick of hearing myself go on and on too.
Development of Editing
Editing has been going on for a very, very long time you see. Well not an extremely long time, I mean it depends on how you classify a ‘long time’. Is a century and a bit ago a long time to you? Well I guess it is. Forget what I just said. Before this whole ‘editing’ ball got rolling, quite a lot of the first filmmakers well, were too ‘chicken’ to edit what they had filmed simply put. They thought to themselves that syncing different film shots with one another as each shot contains different content and is filmed from a different angle, may mess with audiences heads or in a more formal way discombobulate them. Boy, were they wrong. However it took a long time for them to figure this out. There were examples of what editing was to achieve in books in the form of ‘flashbacks’, as well as in live theatre performances when a scene undergoes a change to the next one. Even comic strips were a thing towards the end of the 19th century where each panel of the comic showed something different – usually a story following a chronological order.
The Yellow Kid (created and written by Richard F. Outcault) is known as one of the 1st newspaper comic strips to be published in the U.S (February, 1895).
In the late 19th Century, film-making had started with arguably the 1st ever film (well according to various websites I visited) being created by Louis Le prince. Now doesn’t he sound posh? This was titled the ‘Roundhay Garden Scene’ and was created in 1888 – over 130 years ago! The film is only 3 seconds long and features a man who tells his buddies to do something hilarious for him to film and this is the result. Notably, the Horse In Motion, released a decade before this is to some what they call the first ever film, featuring a horses hooves flying into the air, created by Eadweard Muybridge. But since I like to get all technical with things here, The Horse in Motion is just a bunch of photos played in sequence, whereas the ‘Roundhay Garden Scene’ is actual film footage. Check it out for yourself.
Many films during this time period were quite static (dull in other words), as filmmakers would just film something they like the look of continuously and that was it; sometimes to the point the camera film ran out. No editing was involved whatsoever – I’m sure glad things changed! Examples which illustrate this includes films from the Lumiere Brothers includes ‘The Arrival of a Train’ (1896) which sounds half decent in French “l’arrivée du train à la ciotat”. The film title is literally what we would call a spoiler these days – a train pulls up to the La Ciotat train station and a bunch of passengers run onto it. As well as not featuring editing, no thought had been given to the shots composition, lighting or how the audience are supposed to connect with the film. But it makes for a good watch if you love the classics:
When it reached the early 20th century, filmmakers finally became aware that perhaps putting shots together in a suitable order might just be crazy enough to work. This was since it assisted them when trying to tell an audience a story which isn’t so simple and changed the way viewers perceive a story. Examples of early editing techniques are shown within the films ‘The Great Train Robbery’, directed by Edwin S. Porter (1903) – a Indie Short Silent Western film set in America, as well as Rescued by Rover, directed by Cecil Hepworth and Lewin Fitzhamon (1905) – another short silent film, but is set in the UK instead.
Cuts had been used for these films to tie together the different scenes which was a concept introduced by Edwin Porter (one of Thomas Edison’s staff members). He noticed that putting multiple shots together in sequence for a film helps to tell a story. This is the main reason as to why his films were ground-breaking. He also added emotional attachment through parallel editing (otherwise known as cross-cutting) where two scenes are played side-by-side to give the impression that both events are happening at the same time, used in both The Great Train Robbery and The Life of an American Fireman (released in 1903 too). Its a much better idea than just letting the camera roll at something you find ‘interesting’, which was done before. I wonder if I’d win any awards for buttering a slice of bread back then. Anyway, links to the videos are available below for the films I have mentioned. I don’t really expect you to watch any of these, but you can give them a try if you want if you’ve got nothing else to do with your life right now:
The ‘magic’ of editing in these times when a cut was needed was done in the camera itself – cameras had hand cranks on them back in the day which had to be rotated so the content was stored on camera film. Once the cameraman had finished filming a certain shot they would stop cranking (I love this word), set up the camera where they want the next shot to be and started to crank again. This was done until the entire film had been shot. They didn’t have Premiere Pro or Sony Vegas back in these days, so they had to make do with this. Sometimes, the same shot would be used but new objects and props could be added to a scene. This meant dun dun DUN! that some basic special effects could be done. Hooray!
George Melies is one of the main pioneers (some people call him the father) of special effects within film making and used the crank dial to his advantage during his short films. An example of how he used this was when he filming an actor and as they are about to exit the stage in Cinderella (1899). Instead of being boring, by letting him walk off, he stopped cranking, let off a ball of smoke where he was standing and lets the actor wander off to give the impression that he had vanished into thin air. This was known as the ‘substitution splice’ – try saying that 5 times fast, I can’t do it either if you’re wondering. I know it looks and sounds kind of dated now (well it is), but this was revolutionary in the field of film-making at the time. If you are a bit curious and want to know a tad more about him, he was one of the first film directors to use storyboards to plan out his films. Plus, he is the 1st to apply the double exposure effect and the split-screen effect within his films. He beat the rest of them to it, even if the film in his camera got stuck and so he ended up creating double exposure by mistake. Wish something like that would happen to me. Anyhow, here’s a compilation of some of the special effects he has used within his films. Grab some popcorn, sit back and relax:
Then a couple of years passed by, and Englishman: George Albert Smith who doesn’t really have a profession in film as such being a psychic and hypnotist in 1903 popularised the ‘close up’ in his film ‘The Sick Kitten’, one of the 1st films to use this shot type. This variation in shot type was decided upon so the audience felt more sympathy for the poor feline. However, he topped this off in 1906, when he created the ‘Kinemacolor’ in Brighton – a very lovely place. The Kinemacolor is known as the worlds 1st colour system used within film that actually worked. Filmmakers would apply a filter to their black and white film which rotated coloured segments which were different shades of red and green to the film colour. The filters were put where the camera shutter was in front of the camera as well as the projector too. If you’re really confused, like I am by what i mean by all this, then here’s a diagram to help you:
The Kinemacolor was truly a magnificent beast at the time from 1908-1914, however it meant the standard film frame rate of films that used this technique went from 16fps (frames per second – keep up!) to a whopping 32fps! OH MY GOODNESS! Money was hard to come by during these times and so the company eventually went bust, as they weren’t making any moolah. Film companies had to spend extra to order the equipment to display these films, plus directors were going through twice as much film as before. So yeah, it got dropped and Charles Urban who owned the subsidiary company ran out of cash in 1924 for his business titled ‘Urban Motion Picture Industries’. Sad times. Here’s a video showing the Kinemacolor process:
Then in the following decades: 1910s and 1920s, Russian filmmaker: Lev Kuleshov wanted to play with peoples emotions and introduced what we now call the ‘Kuleshov Effect’. It’s all to do with mind trickery, where the audience was shown an actor who had been filmed his response to delicious soup in a bowl, a lady and a young girl in a coffin, though the actors response didn’t change. Lev just inserted the same shot of the actor looking at the camera for all 3 of the different subjects he filmed. There was a point to this – he didn’t just do this for fun. This was part of an experiment with his editing skills to see how the emotions of an audience changed when they are shown two different shots in sequence, rather than showing all the action in one shot. He discovered that different contexts can be created by people when multiple shots are put together; people will jump to their own conclusion on what the film means in other words. I find the video a bit creepy personally – don’t watch this last thing at night. Have fun watching? You might:
In 1915 however, American director and producer D.W. (David Wark) Griffith stole the show with his film ‘The Birth of a Nation’ – his works popularised and perfected a range of different techniques and put him on the map. This included: continuity editing, the long shot, montages, night photography, the close up, the tracking shot, parallel editing, introducing ideologies and pace. However, it was released to much criticism as well, it isn’t something you can exactly watch with the kids – far away from ‘family friendly PG clean’. The BBC themselves have debated whether or not its “The most Racist Movie ever made?” in an article, as it glamorises the Ku Klax Klan who killed many people of colour and fought for white supremacy as well as including content on President George Lincoln’s assassination. Horrible, horrible stuff. However, it is still his most successful film if IMDB are anything to go by. EEK! It’s 3 hours long if you want to watch it – I don’t have the attention span for it right now. Maybe in a few years time:
From the 1920’s onwards, filmmakers had finally got their acts together in terms of editing – connecting shots with one another, making use of close ups more and parallel editing (cross-cutting if you want to be edgy) all became pretty much standard during this time. Fred C. Newmayer and Sam Taylor had directed and released Girl Shy (1924) which utilised these techniques and chucked in POV shots, cutaways and various camera angles.
The concept of time manipulation in films saw popularity and American director Orson Welles hit a home run with his film ‘Citizen Kane’ in 1941, working with editor Robert Wise. He used various editing techniques such as dissolves and whip pans to show the progression of Kane’s marriage and how it eventually got worse. For instance, one of the shots of them both was framed within a mid shot and with a bit of time manipulation chucked in, a long shot shows the couple at opposite ends of a long table not talking to one another – very awkward if you ask me. It was a very clever editing technique, as time skips help to cut down on the length of a final edit of a film and shows their marriage going sour in a short space of time. And if you couldn’t follow that, put simply it allows for years to go by on the screen in a matter of minutes – that’s what I’m trying to say. Could you imagine if he didn’t – the film could have a running time of several days – people could have died of boredom. Here’s one of the most iconic scenes titled ‘Rosebud’, whatever that means:
During these times as pre-mentioned, they didn’t have the editing software we have today, which meant that when it came to editing films, analogue editing had to be used. Everything was on tapes containing the camera film which meant editing was done by using your hands, a blade and a splicer – a contraption used to connect two pieces of film where a editor wishes to make a cut. Tape then had to be used to piece together the various pieces of film which made up the final edit. If you think things get any better, you’re wrong. Very wrong. A minutes worth of film would have taken months to piece together, making sure everything is in the right place as well. To top things off, its linear editing too, meaning that if you want to go back and edit a specific shot good luck buddy, as you’ll have to go through each and every piece of film until you find the shot you need to edit which can take hours. Here’s a guy looking way too happy with his analogue film setup to the point it mildly concerns me:
And also, here’s the first example of film which used ‘analogue editing’ named ‘Exiting the Factory’ (1895), created by the Lumiere brothers. They really do make some great stuff don’t they?
Our hero and my best friend: digital editing, finally showed signs of development from the mid 1980’s with a range of inventions. Digital services company ‘Quantel’, created the ‘Harry’ in 1985, which was a digital video editing system, that allowed people to add all sorts of special effects to their films, well videos. You couldn’t work with more than 1 minute and twenty seconds which was a step in the right direction, but well, wasn’t practical at all. How many films can you name (discluding the ones in this essay as that’s CHEATING!) that are less than 80 seconds? In 1989, media company Avid Technology released the Avid/1 Media Composer at the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) show to the public. This was the 1st piece of nonlinear basic video editing software that actually did its job on a PC. Hooray. Digital editing was starting to look good. Premiere Pro 1.0 in 1991 was eventually available to purchase for the Apple Mac(intosh). Here’s the demo for the Avid software:
With the introduction of multi-core CPU’s from the early 2000’s (Central Processing Unit – the computers brain in other words), more home PC’s now had the power to edit videos at a decent quality. Cool! And from 2015, everything that isn’t digital has been thrown out the window, as video cameras, digital editing suites and streaming are now taking charge in the editing industry showing who’s boss! Now you don’t have to worry about accidentally cutting yourself with a film splicer. Hooray! Now onto the next section.
Purposes of Editing
There are so many purposes to editing that I couldn’t even count them all – everybody wants and expects different things when they watch stuff its the editors job to ensure they deliver their content in a inviting way, so their viewers enjoy the content. Editing is something that takes ages to perfect and can’t be rushed – I mean you could try and cut corners here and there, but don’t let it get to the point where we could count on one hand the amount of shots you’ve used – that’s just bloody lazy. Anyway, one of the main reasons as to why content is edited is due to the fact that it gives it meaning, otherwise known as ‘context’ for the clever clogs out there. All films and TV need to have a plot to make them worthwhile watching to an audience which is created through editing – it helps to tell the story. Don’t worry – I’ll give you some examples soon enough. It can simply be broken down into 4 main fundamental parts when discussing narrative – I’ll refer to each of them slices of cake to make things more interesting. This includes: the order of the info given to an audience, the amount of info the audience gets, how viewers should react to characters and the scenarios they find themselves in at a certain time, and finally the way the narrative is experienced for viewers when it comes to pace. Here’s the cake:
Image provided by: Reddit
The amount of information viewers are provided with (a.k.a the first slice of this cake – the blue one to shut you up) really does make the narrative more of what I like to call ‘intriguing’. The editor can decide whether or not to keep certain info ‘top secret’ to themselves during the show to reveal later on to audiences which contributes to the story line. Or alternatively give in, and present the information to the audience to cure them of them angst by putting them out of them misery, I mean curiosity. That’s definitely what I meant. The effect this tool has is creating tension and/or suspense, as it puts the audience on the edge of their seat as they begin to anticipate what will happen next if they aren’t provided with info or fear what could happen next if they are. It has its uses. Revealing a lot of information in a short space of time usually helps to drive the narrative along quicker and is essential for one off TV shows known as ‘Singles’, as the ending is fixed. However, this needs to be done carefully – editors can’t go completely overboard with the amount of information they provide. If too much is given in a short space of time, the audience are likely to get confused and be overwhelmed – how I felt watching 24. It has to be the right amount to deliver the narratives purpose.
Moving swiftly on to the red slice of cake, the order in which information about the story line is given to an audience (which seems similar to the 1st point I made, but trust me – just go with it) can alter the narratives intended structure. A story can be told in a variety of ways – the most popular type is the ‘linear structure’ where all the events happen in order (chronologically); info is likely to be given at certain points to the audience like jigsaw pieces to help build the bigger picture. OOoHhh, Now didn’t that sound deep? Movies for mainstream audiences are usually linear, as its the easiest structure to follow – there’s no unusual twists and turns with the ending happening before the beginning. More complex films use a ‘non-linear’ narrative structure, where what we see doesn’t happen in order time-wise and can be seen as a way of challenging the viewers. The films: Dunkirk (2017), Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Annie Hall (1977) all feature non-linear narratives, where we go back in time, the present and forwards in time. The purpose of this is to ensure that the film remains interesting for an audience to watch and not become too predictable, yet not be confusing to the point that the audience can’t figure out what the hell is going on and think “where did the storyline go?”
Next up is the plain slice of cake, which is how viewers should react to scenarios and the characters. Editing is a very powerful tool lots of us underestimate. It can make us sympathise with certain characters to the point where we want to help and support them, or conversely make us want to pick a bone with them as we can’t stand to see them. You wouldn’t put the Benny Hill theme over a emotional scene between two characters as that would be unfitting and would give off the wrong impression to the audience. Slower cuts and sad non-diegetic (sound added in – not in the scene itself) piano music would tend to be used for when editors want us to feel sorry for a character. As well as close ups to really capture the emotion of the character and make us want to cry even more. Putting the characters into relatable scenarios too has its purpose of further connecting with the audience. For example, in the clip below from the film ‘Revolutionary Road’ (2009), April and Frank are a married couple who are having an argument which shows the downfall of their marriage as it progresses. This is something married couples can relate to, if you’re lucky enough to find someone worthy of putting a ring on it. A tracking shot displaying both of them talking to one another is later switched for a shot-reverse-shot to convey the fact that they are emotionally drifting apart in their loveless marriage. Viewers in this sequence can feel empathy for either character, as they may recognise that behaviour within themselves:
Lastly, that tasty-looking chocolate slice of cake refers to how the narrative should be experienced, mainly with the good, old pace. One of the most blaringly obvious ways pace can be created is through the length of a shot. The faster a shot is, especially where there is many of them in a row, the quicker the pace of a show / film is. Action films (like Blank Panther (2018)) are guilty of using fast paced shots when there is conflict between characters such as fight, or a car chasing another car, sometimes helicopters get involved. This helps the film to match the energy of the scene if that makes sense – since the action is happening quickly, the shots have to quick to keep up and so the audience stay excited. Here’s a chase scene from the movie: Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018) which uses fast pace editing – I hope you can keep up:
At the opposite end are dramas and romantic comedies like The Ugly Truth (2009) (which aren’t really my cup of tea) that use slower cuts. This is since there’s a lot of what I like to call ‘character development’ during these types of shows and so a slower pace is needed. This gives the audience time to figure them out as well as the scenarios them find themselves in. This is way these types of shows are meant to be watched. Point of View shots as well are quite a strong way of inviting the audience to the atmosphere of the film, as we are able to see what the actors are seeing. Don’t I sound “educated?” They can make us feel quite uneasy and uncomfortable during a certain moment of a film and change our attitudes towards a character, even if we’re fussy. Here’s a scene I dug up from YouTube from the film: The Prince & Me, a romantic comedy of some sort:
Guess its time to move on… 🙂
Conventions and Techniques of Editing / Famous Editors
Unfortunately this is the last section of this essay, which means that I will have to say goodbye soon. But don’t worry, I’ll be sure to make this a good one. Conventions and techniques tackles the way in which editing is useful for guiding the narrative and making a film what it truly is when its done right and not by some muppet – a true piece of art. If you don’t know what a ‘convention’ means, then I’ll be more than happy enough to tell you what it is – its not as complicated as you may think it is. It means, the way something is typically done – in this case for a film or a TV show, there are standard formats directors and editors use to put all the footage together. Easy peasy, and lemon squeezy too. Now comes the hard part with the examples I have in mind below – try and keep up.
One of the most common types of edit, which you know most shows use when they aren’t trying to confuse their audience is ‘continuity editing‘, sometimes referred to as ‘seamless‘ editing. This dumbed down means the editing seems invisible and that we as an audience don’t really notice it happening – its cut together so well it knocks our socks off without us even realising it. We (the viewers) assume that everything we are seeing on screen is happening right before our eyes live in one take. We forget that it has been edited together and that’s the whole purpose of it – for us not to pick up on the cuts. Except when you;’re a media student like me, and you begin to notice these things – it really ruins TV shows for me as I look for cuts instead of focusing on the story. Anyway, I digress. If you are still struggling to get your head around this concept, here’s an example from Pulp Fiction (1994). We had to do parody of this last year which well, wasn’t great in the slightest and I don’t know why I’m telling you this, here it is:
There are however, a few rules which continuity editing has to follow as well as keeping everything looking like it happened in one take. One of the most well-known rules in the industry, is the 180 degree rule, which means whilst you’re editing a sequence, the camera must keep to one side – especially for conversations between two people sitting down. This is used to ensure that the characters eyelines are meeting with one another, so the audience believes that they are actually facing and talking with each other. I’ll give you this diagram to make the explanation ‘thing’ a little easier:
You see those 3 rectangles which are supposed to be the cameras are telling you its OK to film from these angles. However, that other rectangle above the line is giving you the side-eye and that is to let you know that filming from the angle will mess everything up. As well as this, you’ve got to make sure you don’t get too stingy with the space between camera shots and accidentally break the 30 degree rule too. Yeah, this thing exists too. It means that when you decide to cut to a different angle in a scene, that the minimum amount of degrees it should be is 30 degrees to allow everything to flow smoothly. When you don’t it makes for really ugly scenes, as the cuts become very noticeable and can create what we call ‘jump cuts’ (another convention I’ll discuss later). There’s another diagram (or 2) which should help you to understand this better:
Sorry about this other diagram being low-res, I really couldn’t find a better example.
And if you aren’t into diagrams, here an example from James Bond’s film: Casino Royale (2006), where the 30 degree rule is used to show each of the characters around a table:
Moving on to the more simpler stuff for continuity editing – I’ll try to not to go on for too long, as I really need to discuss the others. Establishing shots are another feature of this type of editing, which is a type of long or extremely long shot where we usually see the location the characters in a film are in and helps to set the scene. For instance, if the characters were visiting Paris in a film, the director could get a shot of the Eiffel Tower to inform the audience of where the characters are. Below is a compilation of establishing shots in films if you care to watch a few – be my guest:
And when it comes to continuity editing, there’s no way that you can forget about the shot, reverse, shot which I may have mentioned somewhere in this blog post, I’m not quite sure. It is pretty much always the go to plan when two characters are talking to each other and the camera shot changes to capture the ‘main action’ (footage) from the other characters perspective. This is useful for the fact that it makes a film more interesting to watch, as one still shot of both characters talking for a long time can really kill the mood. Here’s the shot-reverse-shot thing in practice in the Spider-Man movie (2002) I think – it doesn’t say which film it is, but it looks quite old so it most likely is the first one. Man, he seriously doesn’t look happy in this thumbnail:
Eye-line matching as well is just as important as shot-reverse-shot to trick the audience further into thinking everything they are seeing has happened live. You may just brush this off and think to yourself – why the hell are you telling me this? And I return with the fact that if two characters are interacting with one another they are expected to look at one another whilst speaking. If one of them is looking at the ground continuously and the other actor is staring into the distance whilst they are talking, it makes it obvious to the audience that not only do you have terrible actors, but they pick up on the fact that the different takes have been used to capture each of the characters as they aren’t facing one another. The cuts become jarring and become very noticeable. Plus it looks stupid and really unprofessional. Here’s episode 1 of Star Wars (1999) which shows the right way to do it – Obi Wan Kenobi really looks scared here:
Last but not least, there is also cutting on action / following the action which is yet another convention of continuity editing. This is seriously the last one, I’m so sorry about this, I honestly didn’t think it would go on for this long. This is where the ‘main action’ is followed between different shots (close ups, establishing shots, mid shots etc.) to show the audience what’s happening – its done in such a way, that viewers believe that the action isn’t interrupted. Here’s a scene from The Matrix (1999) which utilises ‘cutting to the action’. Its a bit gritty, but they didn’t have 4K back then, so tough luck:
And that folks, pretty much wraps up continuity editing conventions. Now onto the other, which thankfully don’t have so many. Alright, in 3, 2, 1…
Montages are another convention of films and TV and consists of a range of short clips in quick succession that make up a scene no more than a couple minutes long. This can be seen as another form of time manipulation if you will (well you have no choice here), as it condenses at action across hours, days, weeks etc. (depending on the film) into a short space of time. Comedies and action films are guilty of using this technique quite a lot. Here’s an example of a montage from the 2007 comedy / action film Hot Fuzz – a real classic if you ask me:
After some quick research, it seems that there are 5 different types of montages discovered by the and only Sergei Eisenstein. Oh great. More work for me to do. To make it easier for you, I’ll just briefly describe each one in a bullet point list, as I’m get sick of writing this assignment:
- Metric montages this is where a montage is matched to the beat of the music playing in the background. It also relates to the shot’s length and is nifty little tool to give the movie a tempo.
- Tonal montages these take into consideration what you see in the shot including the lighting, shadows (Chiaroscuro – if you wanna get fancy) and the colours that are the most prominent or stand out to you – the viewer.
- Rhythmic montages go a little bit deeper than the simpleton that is the metric montage. This accounts for the flow and the pattern the main action follows – the energy of a scene in simple terms as well as the shot’s length.
- Overtonal montages otherwise known as the thief in the montage family and takes the traits from rhythmic, tonal and metric montages throw all into one mix in a way which may or may not make too much sense. It can require a lot of deep thought to understand compared to the others, as it likes to be difficult.
- Intellectual montages are the final type of montage – thank goodness. This is the most complicated type of montage out there and helps to establish a brand-new definition in the film by putting together shots which follow a certain concept.
That’s all of them. Hooray! If you’re still unsure of what I mean by all this, then go ahead and watch the video below which probably explains it a lot better than I just did. Enjoy:
The next convention for film editing is something which isn’t too easy on the eyes sadly and looks a bit wrong, but its fine when you get used to it. This is jump cutting which was introduced during the French New Wave movement during the 1950’s and 1960’s where they broke the rules of traditional editing. They simply wanted to redefine what made a good film and that you don’t need the typically Hollywood setup and conventions to achieve it – good for them. Someone needed to do it and this was one of the things that stuck, as various filmmakers rallied against continuity and what better way to do that than cut footage out which you don’t like.
Of course, its more than just that. This is intentionally done so viewers actually realise the cuts happening and the editors don’t feel worthless as with continuity, their work isn’t noticed. Two shots are put in sequence, where the type of camera shot can be the same as the first or be completely different – either way, viewers will pick this up. It can be done to make people feel anxious, or to skip to the interesting parts or in other words – cut to the main action. Surprisingly, the inventor of the jump-cut is Georges Melies (that guy I mentioned earlier) in 1896, for his film: ‘The Vanishing Lady’. Here’s a clip from The Office (US) that uses jump-cutting. I advise if you have OCD, to skip this clip as you may have a meltdown:
Here’s the film that uses the first ever jump-cut too, by Georges Melies too:
Cross-cutting / parallel editing is going to be the final editing convention for films that I’ll be discussing today – believe it or not. I’m fully aware that I’ve already mentioned this to you, but for the sake of the grading criteria I’ll mention it again. Its where the main action in a film is shared between two locations which are shown to be happening at the same time. Do we need an example – no, not really. But it tends to happen in romance films, thrillers and action films to help raise the tension for the audience. The parallel editing usually occurs until the characters from both of the scenes meet to confront one another as the film reaches the climax, its pinnacle, the best part – whatever you want to call it. It really makes a film more more mind-blowing by quickening the pace, as the audience frantically tries to keep up with the action on-screen. I don’t see the point in this, but if you really want another parallel editing sequence, here you go; a movie clip from The Godfather (1972):
Now its time to move swiftly onto techniques which will be the last section (second to last section, my bad) of this report, which I didn’t think would be this long, but there’s not much I can do about it now. 🙂 Oh well. Techniques are that ‘cherry on the top’ which is used to give films and TV shows that extra special something. I’ve kind of accidentally discussed some of these techniques earlier on, so I won’t go into too much details on those things. Besides that, lets get started.
One of the most common techniques which you’ll notice during films are ‘transitions’. In simple terms, its the way the current shot goes changes into the next shot – the way this is done is usually intentional (providing your editor isn’t an idiot) and matches the mood of the scene. For instance, there’s the ‘fade’ transition which can help to display time passing, used for a flashback or to give the movie a daydream sort of vibe. The dissolve transition does pretty much the same thing too. Other transitions which aren’t as common include the wipe, where the camera slowly reveals the next shot usually in a clockwise, anti-clockwise, or a linear fashion. You can also be boring and play it safe by using the normal ‘cut’ which barely passes as a transition, but it counts. However, professional editors are smart enough to realise not to use too many transitions, as it can look tacky like a PowerPoint presentation. Yeah, I went there. If you like Star Wars, then this clips is for you (Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Special Edition, 1997). A clockwise wipe transition is used here:
And if you’re into your Netflix, then here’s some examples of transitions from Stranger Things (July 2016 – present):
Next up are ‘cutaways’ which are used to capture a shot which isn’t part of the main action but is from the same scene. They’re not usually that long in duration, and the shot can be of pretty much anything – POV shots (Point of View – keep up!) counts too. Its careful to note that these are different from ‘insert shots’ – they are pretty similar but here’s the difference. A cutaway shot contains action which isn’t shown in the master / main shot, whereas insert shots are filmed from another angle to the main shot. See its not that confusing is it? Cutaways can also be shots of a different place and time entirely too and are quite often used in comedies to imply something, without us seeing whats happening. It can also give us some information on a character too – if you so happen to see a poster of someone famous – take Ed Sheeran (because why not) on a wall in a characters room, we are aware than that they are a fan of his work. Here’s a scene from the movie 300 (2007) – that’s the actual title (silly, I know) which uses the cutaway shot:
The Point of View shot which I had just introduced to you in the last paragraph, is literally one of the easiest techniques to remember. Even if you aren’t the sharpest tool in the box, you’ll still be able to get your head around it. Its a shot that’s filmed from a characters perspective – what’s shown on screen is what their eyes see and sometimes what they feel too. Here is a compilation of point of view shots from the Breaking Bad TV Series (2008-2013):
There’s the shot-reverse-shot too, which has been mentioned during the continuity editing segment with the Spiderman video, so I won’t ruin your day by telling you what it is again. Giving information to the audience and keeping information from the audience too, is another technique used within editing to give a film or TV show some pizzazz. By keeping a obvious secret away from the audience, it makes them curious as to what could happen next – crime shows use this often to mask the culprit of a crime with clues slowly being given out until the person is found. Giving the audience information too is just as important, so that they can understand the actual story line and to give it a purpose. When watching a show, if the TV show told you the plot of the story in the first few minutes, you’d think to yourself: “Well, my evening has been ruined!” As there’s no point in watching the show at all; the surprise has been foiled. If you still haven’t got a clue of what I’m rambling on about (even though I’ve mentioned this before in the previous section), then take this example from Eastender’s from a couple years ago (2014). Lucy’s death was the main highlight, where she wandered near into some nearby woods and the camera slowly panned down from the top of the trees to her lying unconscious on the ground. The audience aren’t shown who the culprit was – spooky stuff. Spoiler alert: Bobby did it!
An additional technique which I wish to discuss here is the ‘graphic match cut’ which is another clever tool editors use. It helps to connect two chronological shots that are shown on screen which can be from different times and places, but there is usually a common theme (movement, sound etc.) that both camera shots share – how nice? The juxtaposition between both shots is meant to be noticed but is done in such a way it seems neither subtle nor dramatic. Somewhere in the middle. The Fall (2013-2016), uses the graphic match cut in this short TV clip below, when the guy picks up the newspaper, the woman does too:
My favourite (and the final technique) which I will be chatting to you about is cutting to the music / soundtrack. Very self-explanatory – this is where editors cut on the beat or at a certain point to the track, so camera shots follow the song’s rhythm. For instance, for a fast-paced song you’d get down with your bad self at the club, faster cuts are likely to be used so the shots and music share a same pace. Or if its a sad scene such as a funeral, slow emotional ballads are likely to play, with slower cuts being done so audiences can focus on the characters emotion more. It really does have its uses. The Fast and the Furious (2001) use it in this car chase sequence to make the scene more dynamic:
Oh yeah, now I have to mention a few editors before I wrap this thing up. 😦 Great. I’ll mention a couple.
Joe Walker (born 2nd October 1963), is a film editor born in the UK and currently resides in the lovely Los Angeles, California; can’t blame him, the weather is terrible here. He has a couple of awards to his name including the: European Award for Best Editor (2012) for the 2011 movie Shame and the Satellite Award for Best Editing (2016) for his contributions to the film Sicario (2015). Other films he is also well-known for include Arrival (2016), 12 Years a Slave (2013) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017) and has been nominated for editing awards (but sadly didn’t win any) for each of these films. He has helped to edit all of the feature films British director Steve McQueen has released and has worked with Denis Villeneuve too. Core blimey! His strong point is using cross-cutting and flashbacks for the films he gets given to edit. Here’s the man of the hour himself:
Next up, is Michael Kahn (born 8th December 1935) who is another film editor, but hes from New York City in America this time; you can’t accuse me of showing preference to British people. 🙂 He’s been all over the place when it comes to editing – both TV shows and films! For TV shows, this includes: Hogan’s Heroes (1965-1971), The Doris Day Show (2 episodes / 1971) and Eleanor and Franklin (1976). For films, the ones which the people remember him for are: Minority Report (2002), Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). He has partnered and been best buddies with famous American film director Steven Spielberg and has worked with him for over 4 decades! Their most recent project together was the fantasy thriller movie: Ready Player One (2018) and they are currently working on ‘The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara’ (release date TBD). To date he has won 3 Oscars – give him a round of applause everyone. Here’s he looks like now:
Since 3 is a magic number, I’ll also give Sally Menke (born December 17th 1953) a mention, who sadly passed away September 27th 2010. She’s another American film editor who grew up in New York, America who worked alongside famous American film director Quentin Tarantino (I always thought it was spelt Tarentino). Anyway, she was the editor for the films that he had directed right until she tragically left us, which was her job for over 20 years. The films she is well-known for editing include: Kill Bill Volume 1 (2003), Kill Bill Volume 2 (2004) and Pulp Fiction (1994) which are all unsurprisingly, directed by Quentin Tarantino. He was her best client as you can see and has been credited for part of his success by himself with film making by composing humorous montages and intricate sequences which complements Tarantino’s film style. Here she is:
And that’s all folks. I hope you have learned at least something you didn’t know before reading all of this, providing you managed to reach the end of it. Alright then, Cheerio!
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