Editing Explained

Reading: Visual Storytelling by Osgood and Hinshaw, chapter 8: The Aesthetics of Editing

While my last blog explained the different techniques used when shooting film, this reading describes the different techniques used when editing.

“While the technical craft of editing is fairly easy to master, the ability to use editing tools to bring the story to life can be a much greater challenge . . . Aesthetic skills and techniques are far more difficult to master.”

The best way to master editing is to realize that every single frame is critical to the quality of the movie as a whole. You never know how great you can make the next shot until you analyze the previous shot and figure out just how many ways you can play with the angle. Here are a few simple, common elements that make a huge difference.

sound that goes along with an image

the order that you decide to put your shots in (so basically, the way you decide to tell your story and how it enhances your project)

rhythm & pacing refers to the “beat” that the shots have. In other words, how fast do you cut from one shot to another, and how does that speed enhance your project? Remember that the faster the speed, the more precise your cuts have to be.

Here are some more complex elements

shot relationship refers to the way that two subsequent shots affect the audience’s perception of meaning. In other words, can you make your idea clear based on two shots that don’t necessarily go together?

time must be manipulated in any film. There are different ways to do this, like looking at the same clock throughout the project, showing the progression of the sun throughout the day, or showing people grow up from the beginning to end of the project.

a montage is a group of unrelated shots grouped in a way that conveys a new meaning. For example, I could have quick shots of different people gradually walking from one end of a walkway to another to convey elapsed time or even a journey from beginning to end. Montages are very effective in creating lasting impressions because of their creative elements.

continuity is pretty self explanatory. There can be altered to convey meaning, such as:

scissorsphysical continuity– seeing the same elements throughout a project (someone wearing the same clothes, the same house, anything really)

technical continuity– using the same type of filters, sound level, effects, etc.

cut on action-two shots that seem to flow in a realistic fashion instead of cut

a jump cut refers to two shots that lack continuity, which if done well could be used to show a creative change in the story.

Keep these elements in mind. They’re great starting points for someone interested in editing a memorable beginner’s project. 


Discussion Questions:

1. Think of a way that you could use a montage to convey meaning.

2. Which of these elements do you think is most effective in conveying meaning, and why? Which is least effective?



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