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Published by jerihurd
A handout for students describing basic film editing styles and techniques.
A handout for students describing basic film editing styles and techniques.

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Published by: jerihurd on Apr 09, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Four Reasons to Cut:
 When you cut well, yousustain the viewer’s interest,set the pace for the film andmaintain continuity
To move the story forward (tell the audiencesomething new.To show information that is better in another shot.You’ve used up the current shotIt’s time to see something new/shot is boring.
lthough film had been around for a couple of decades, it wasn’t until Edwin Porter’s shorts
 Jack and the Beanstalk 
(1902) and T
he Life of an American Fireman
(1903) that storytelling on film came into its own, for Porter‘invented’ the edit. Up until his time, most films consisted of one long take; Porter introduced jump-cut andclose-ups into his movies, and a new medium was born.Editing, essentially, consists of juxtaposing one shot against another, in order to shape the viewers’experience of the film and direct his/her attention. A typical Hollywood pictures contains between 1000 and2,000 shots; action movies can include 3000 or more. This makes the editor a key figure in film production. Infact, many people have called the editing stage the “final rewrite of the script.”
Classical Style
The simplest and most effective way to join two pieces of video is the cut. Generally, using those fancytransitions in iMovie are obvious signs of an amateur at work. One school of thought believes that editing should be “invisible;” this is often called “classic” or “Hollywood style” editing. To the viewers the cuts seem sonatural, they don’t even notice. When was the last time you watched a movie and thought “Wow, what greatediting!” My point exactly.Typically, the classical style often (but not always!) follows a pattern of shot development:
Master shot (establishes setting and characters)
Medium shot 
Cut It OUT
Notice the pattern moves from an overall view of the scene to a more personal view of the characteror subject (outside/in). It is also possible to move inan inside/out sequence, starting with a close upand developing a ever-widening series of shots.These are not hard and fast rules, however. If it fits your film and theme, make the cuts unbalancedand jarring--mismatching angles, moving fromclose-ups to over-the-shoulder shots, etc. Basically,cut in a manner that best suits the film you’remaking.
Also known as the classical or hollywood style, continuity editing works to make the entire process “invisible,”believing that if the audience is aware of the editing, the editor has failed.There are four basic “rules” of classical editing that we’ll focus on.
180 Degree Rule:
Following this rule ensures that, as you cut from shot to shot, characters will always bespatially oriented (facing the same way), so as not to confuse your viewers. If you cross the line, be sure toinclude shot on the axis to re-orient your viewers.
Eyeline Match:
Often used with aPOV shot, shot A shows the character lookinoff camera and shot B reveals the object. Tomaintain continuity, the shots must match incamera angle and direction. Interesting to note:the objects, in reality, don’t even need to be onthe same continent, as long as the cameraangles match. Remember the Kuleshov effect!
 In these clips from Warner Brothers’ 1971
Dirty Harry
 , the scene starts with a long shot encompassing both Harry and the women commenting on the death he’sinvestigating. It then cuts to a medium close-up of the two women, then to a close up of Harry’s reaction, before re-establishing the scene as Harry turns away.
 Dirty Harry.
Dir. Don Siegel. Perf.Clint Eastwood. Warner Brothers,1971.
Match on action
: Continuity editing works to “hide” the cut by often cutting only on an action. Forinstance, shot A would show a character starting through a door, shot B would cut to to opposite side of the door and show the character exiting. The shot is almost invisible, because it’s a natural part of theaction.Or, in the sequence below, the shot starts with the actor jumping forward, cuts to a rear shot as he divesand scrambles away. Notice shifting to the rear now allows for watching him escape.
30 Degree Rule:
This rule says that any change in shot must show more than a 30 degree shift inthe camera. This helps avoid jump cuts. As we’ve seen, they can be very effective in more modernediting, but in classical editing, jump cuts are a big taboo.
Graphic Match:
Not part of the basic rules, but a useful tool to help transition between scenes. Ina graphic match, the image in shot A is similar in shape and position to that in shot B. Here’s a famousexample from Hitchcock’s Psycho:
Montage Editing:
Montage is used in three different ways when referring to film. The original use stems from Russia in the1920’s, when Sergei Eisenstein (most notably) used the juxtaposition of unrelated shots to explorethematic and symbolic development of ideas within his films. (Think: the “Odessa Steps” scene from
 Battleship Potemkin
.)The French New Wave movement in the 50’s developed the montage idea by using a series of jump cuts,often to show a sense of fragmentation or chaos.Finally, in the US, montage is often a sequence of images meant to convey a passage of time, changes infeelings or attitudes or to establish a sense of place or time. They may be dramatic, comic, orinformative.
graphic from “Art of the Guillotine”http://www.artoftheguillotine.com/graphicmatch.html

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