film

ELEMENTS

6. EDITING
Editing is the process of trimming and piecing together lengths of film in order to make an artistically concise and complete motion picture. This is certainly the most obvious technique of film language. The terms editing, cutting, and montage are often applied interchangeably to the process. In montage, the emphasis is on the juxtaposition of ideas resulting from this process. Cutting stresses the physical work with the actual strips of film. Editing encompasses both.

This is the original editing machine²an upright Moviola, or a flatbed machine. Film editing has since evolved from the process of a film editor physically cutting and taping together pieces of film, using a splicer and threading the film on this machine with a viewer.

Steenbeck film editing machine rollers

Before the widespread use of non-linear editing systems. the use of a film positive (not the original negative) allowed the editor to do as much experimenting as he or she wished. without the risk of damaging the original. the initial editing of all films was done with a positive copy of the film negative called a film workprint. . most films are edited digitally and bypass the film positive workprint altogether. Today. In the past.

without interruption.How Editing Works A single shot²which is the length of film exposed at one time. by one camera²makes a visual and aural record of some segment of the physical world« by effective editing. this record can be taken apart.. and shaped into an imaginative world or a discourse about the world. restructured. ..

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Sometimes referred to as the assembly edit or rough cut. it is normally the first pass of what the final film will be when it reaches picture lock. Screening dailies gives the editor a ballpark idea of the director¶s intentions. Because it is the first pass. the editor and director will have seen and/or discussed dailies (or the raw footage shot each day) as shooting progresses.The first editing stage is the Editor¶s Cut. Likely. prior to cutting. and often the entire editing process goes on for many months and sometimes more than a year. . In the first stage of editing the film editor will usually work alone (save for his or her own team of assistant editors. The film editor usually starts working while principal photography (shooting) starts. depending on the film. The editor continues to refine the cut while shooting continues. associate or coeditors and/or visual effects and music editors). the editor¶s cut might be somewhat longer than the final film.

.´ the director and the editor go over the entire movie with a fine tooth comb: scenes and shots are re-ordered. the director can then turn his or her full attention to collaborating with the editor and further refining the cut of the film. shortened and otherwise tweaked. than the entire production and filming²most directors and editors form a unique artistic bond. This is the time that is set aside where the film editor¶s first cut is molded to fit the director¶s vision. directors receive a minimum of ten weeks after completion of principal photography to prepare their first cut.) While collaborating on what is referred to as the ³director¶s cut.S. missing shots or even missing segments which might require that new scenes be filmed.When shooting is finished. under Directors¶ Guild of America [DGA] rules. (In the U. . and far more intimately involved. and before the studio and/or producers are generally allowed to have input. Often it is discovered that there are plot holes. This is called the Director¶s Cut. Because of this time working closely and collaborating²a period that is normally far longer. removed.

and worked completely outside of the Hollywood system are Ingmar Bergman. sometimes leading to the use of the ³Alan Smithee´ credit signifying disownership or the aforementioned ³director¶s cut´ re-issues in subsequent years after the original theatrical releases. Because of this. there have been several conflicts in the past between the director and the studio. . the subsequent cuts are supervised by one or more producers. Orson Welles is an example of a director constantly dogged by studio supervision and many times had films taken away from him. and. with little studio intervention. thus independent films often take more risks and have more creative rewards than studio films. Some directors are also the producers of their films. Independent directors who work outside of the studio system are usually more free to have a final cut. Stanley Kubrick and Woody Allen.Often after the director has had his or her chance to oversee a cut. On the other hand. have a much tighter grip on what makes the final cut than other directors. with the approval of the funding studio. who represent the production company and/or the movie studio. the final cut of films produced by the major studios is the one that most closely represents what the studio wants from the film and not necessarily what the director wants. The most wellknown examples of director who lorded over all aspects of their films. At times.

Styles of Film Editing Continuity Editing This is the uninterrupted connection of the action from one shot to another to create a coherent visual story. Match cut is the technique used when the action is logically joined with other shots. .

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Styles of Film Editing Discontinuity Editing This is the distortion of the smooth flow of the action from one shot to another. . Jump cut is the technique used when the cut breaks the continuity of time by jumping forward from one part of an action to another.

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Fiction films contain on the average approximately 6 every 10 seconds. cuts. Editors strive to hide their work by cutting on action. .Things One Should Know About Editing 1. so that the movement of a character's arm in one location flows into another such movement elsewhere. one . masking the change of shot.

By releasing information just as the spectator needs it. More important is the principle by which an editor anticipates the spectator¶s line of inquiry. . the editor constructs a natural drama whose seams are invisible.3.

It serves as a system of punctuation. .4. editing connects scenes into sequences and larger units. Beyond rendering scenes in unobtrusive or striking ways.

. Editing permits highly dramatic effects that could never be staged in a single shot.5.

In Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). the title characters are seen cornered by lawmen on a high cliff overlooking a river. . and they involved different crews and even different rivers. into which they make an almost suicidal leap to their escape. yet the audience readily accepts the illusion created by the editing. Actually. the scenes involving the two leading actors on the cliff and those of the dives were shot weeks apart.

For example. in fact. the editor utilizes the script supervisor¶s notes during post-production to log and keep track of the vast amounts of footage and takes that a director might shoot. cutting from a shot where the beer glass is empty to one where it is full. Often a film editor is blamed for improper continuity. Continuity is typically the business of the script supervisor and film director. to most editors what is more important than continuity is the editing of emotional and storytelling aspects of any given film± something that is much more abstract and harder to judge . However. Generally speaking. who are together responsible for preserving continuity and preventing errors from take to take and shot to shot. Continuity is. very nearly last on a film editor¶s list of important things to maintain.6.

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and finally to long shot .Editing Technique: The Accordion Sequence (a) a drawing room conversation between two people is introduced in an establishing (long) shot of the setting and the actors. to full shot. To help viewers understand the nuances of the dialogue. because their speech gives them prominence over the setting. showing both characters from the waist up. (d) back out of the sequence in the reverse order. going from close-up to medium shot. (c) alternating close-ups of each character (generally from over-theshoulder shots) to convey innuendos and reactions. the editor will move in for a medium shot. (b) The editor will cut to a full shot of the actors once they begin their dialogue.

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. In such cases the editor insists upon a strange or important connection in a scene.Editing Technique: The Shocking Juxtaposition Shocking juxtapositions occur when an initially smooth progression is disrupted by a quick cut to a close-up. as in the Halloween cycle of horror films. the effect can be startling and frightening.

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It may or may not signify the change of time and place. This is also known as the insert shot. A variation of cut is cut-away shot. It is a shot inserted into a scene to show a secondary event.Editing Technique: Basic Cut Cut is the instant change of one shot to another achieved by joining the last frame of a filmstrip to the first frame of another filmstrip. .

. This is the gradual change from a black screen or a dark screen until a shot appears (for fade in).Editing Technique: Fade in and Out The screen is left dark for a moment. and the reverse (for fade out).

to a new scene. . or mixes.Editing Technique: Dissolve or Mix The picture dissolves. with one image showing on top of the other for a moment.

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Editing Technique: Wipe A line moves across the screen that wipes out the preceding image while introducing the next. .

.Editing Technique: Iris There is a gradual reduction of the old image from the edges to a pinpoint size and then the expansion of the new one in the reverse way.

with the new image seeming to appear on what was the reverse side. .Editing Technique: Turnover The entire screen seems to turn over.

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.Editing Technique: Freeze Frame The change from a moving action to a steady shot achieved by photographing the last frame of the moving action several times on a filmstrip.

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. It heightens related visual images.Editing Technique: Superimposition This is the simultaneous overlapping of two different visual images on the same filmstrip.

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This is also called the split screen. .Editing Technique: Multiple Images This is the showing of several visual images on different parts of a frame at the same time.

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.Other Creative Editing Techniques Max Ophüls connected the separate episodes of La Ronde (1950) by means of the musical leitmotiv of a hurdy-gurdy tune.

Jean-Luc Godard. her murder.In Vivre sa vie (196 ). . one of the outstanding French New Wave directors of the late 1950s. ultimately. introduced chapter headings marking the heroine¶s step-by-step involvement in prostitution and. as if it were a didactic 19th-century novel.

Alfred Hitchcock. in his British film The Thirty-nine Steps (1935) cut from a woman's scream to the similar sound of a train whistle. an effect so dramatic that it was frequently imitated thereafter. . probably the greatest director of suspense films.

Montage In film terminology. . ³montage´ has its literal French meaning and simply identifies a movie¶s editor. a montage (from the French for ³putting together´ or ³assembly´) is a film editing technique. There are at least three senses of the term: In French film practice. In Soviet filmmaking of the 1920s. ³montage´ was a method of juxtaposing shots to derive new meaning that did not exist in either shot alone. In classical Hollywood cinema. a ³montage sequence´ is a short segment in a film in which narrative information is presented in a condensed fashion. This is the most common meaning among laymen.

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. editing is a function that is ordinarily hidden from the audience.Like camera-work. or its context in relation to the shots that precede and follow it. but it is vital to the finished picture It is the editor¶s job to judge the length of each shot and to choose the exact moment to cut. its dramatic impact. The length of a shot may depend upon the amount of detail it contains. Though the audience is unconscious of these judgments. the impact of the finished film depends on how well they are made. its scale.

In his book. When undecided about the exact frame to cut on. Edward Dmytryk stipulates seven rules of cutting that a good editor should follow: Rule 1 Rule 2 Rule 3 Rule 4 Rule 5 Rule 6 Rule 7 Never make a cut without a positive reason. cut long rather than short Whenever possible cut in movement The µfresh¶ is preferable to the µstale¶ All scenes should begin and end with continuing action Cut for proper values rather than proper µmatches¶ Substance first²then form . On Film Editing.

let¶s watch« OLIVER STONE¶S JFK (1991) WITH EDITING BY JOE HUTSHING AND PIETRO SCALIA .Now.

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