film editing master

Film Editing Co-ordinating the Shots:

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A look at Film editing and the language of Hollywood film Graphic Relations Rhythmic Relations Temporal Relations Spatial Relations Thematic Relations


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Film EditingCo-ordinating the Shots:

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Editing: what’s the idea?

• The general idea behind editing in narrative film is the coordination of one shot with another in order to create a coherent whole.

• The system of editing employed in narrative film is called continuity editing – its purpose is to create and provide efficient and artful transitions.

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Editing film

1. In filmmaking, the task of selecting and joining camera takes.

2. In the finished film, the set of techniques that governs the relation among shots.(Bordwell and Thompson)

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Editing is the process of preparing language, images, or sound through correction, condensation, organization, and other modifications in various media... Editing is, therefore, also a practice that includes creative skills, human relations, and a precise set of methods.


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Juxtaposition and meaning• Edwin S. Porter, The Great Train Robbery, 1903 Shots in sequence

create meaning for audiences• From exterior shots to set, audience is encouraged to believe the

events they see are immediately sequential

Interior train carriage

Exterior, roof of trainCut to Cut to

Exterior, train pulls away

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The Kuleshov Effect• Lev Kuleshov, circa 1920: intercut an actor’s face with unrelated footage taken later.

• Audiences interpreted emotional responses on the actor’s face based on the juxtaposition of images.

• Whilst much of the moving image we see uses this effect, it does not usually draw attention to it.

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Comparing Approaches

• Students may be familiar with multiple-camera, non-sequential techniques from film and television

• Hollywood productions may have 1000-2000 shots, 3000 for an action movie: post-production editing is crucial in creating meaning

• Some film makers still favour a pared-down, single-camera, sequential approach for particular sections of film

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Definition of in-camera editing:‘constructing a film by taking shots in sequence, with no subsequent editing’ (Burn and Durran)

Contrast ‘four main functions’ of film editing:• ‘make sure that the production is the required length or time; • to remove unwanted material or mistakes; • to alter if necessary the way or the sequence in which events will be portrayed; • to establish the particular style and character of a production.’ (O’Sullivan, Dutton and Rayner)

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Online example 1

Points to consider :

• Narrative• Characters• Relationships• Genre• Shot choices• Continuity• Effectiveness

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Storyboards created from still shots, after


These can be made more detailed: duration;

notes on camera movement; audio etc.

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Relations in Editing

There are five areas of choice and control in editing, based on five types of relationships between shots:

Graphic RelationsRhythmic Relations Temporal RelationsSpatial RelationsThematic Relations

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Graphic RelationsAlthough the primary focus of the film editor is to ensure continuity of the narrative, film editors remain acutely aware that film is a visual art. Therefore, they work to achieve visual interest by creating transitions between shots that are graphically similar and graphically dissimilar, depending on the desired effect.

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Graphic Continuity

• A graphic match is achieved by joining two shots that have a similarity in terms of light/dark, line or shape, volume or depth, movement or stasis.

• A graphically discontinuous edit creates a clash of visual content by joining two shots that are dissimilar in terms of one or more of the above visual principles.

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Graphic Match

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Graphic Discontinuity

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Rhythmic Relations

Film is not only a visual art, but also an auditory and even tactile art. Therefore, editors also remain aware of the effects achieved by manipulating the rhythms experienced by perceivers through thoughtful juxtapositions of longer and shorter shots as well as through transitional devices that affect the perceiver’s sense of beat or tempo.

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Rhythmic Transitional Devices

Straight cut Fade-out Fade-in Dissolve Wipe Flip frame Jump cut

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Temporal RelationsEditing is the process by which the difference between temporal duration and screen duration is reconciled. It sounds simple, but consider this: most feature films present in roughly two hours sufficient intersection of story and plot to provide perceivers with everything they need in order to understand days, weeks, months or even years in characters’ lives.

Click here for example of Temporal relative editing

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Temporal Relations: Chronology

• Most narrative films are presented in roughly chronological order, with notable exceptions (Memento, anyone?)

• The two most common disruptions to chronological order are flashbacks and flashforwards (the former being much more typical than the latter).

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Temporal Relations: The Passage of Time

• To speed up time, editors make use of elliptical editing techniques such as

Transitional devicesEmpty framesCutaway shots

• To slow down time, editors make use of expansion editing techniques such as


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Spatial Relations

Perhaps the most important, as well as the most overlooked, principle of editing is its function in providing perceivers a reliable sense of the physical space that constitutes the world of the film. Editors are responsible (with assistance from cinematographers) for relating points in space in order to achieve narrative continuity.

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Spatial Continuity

• The standard pattern for editing a scene in a narrative film includes the following:

Establishing shotShot/Reverse-shotEyeline match (POV shot)Re-establishing shot

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Spatial Continuity

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More Spatial Concepts

• Multiple camera technique

• Axis of Action (180-degree line)

• Match on Action

• Cheat Cut

• The Kuleshov Effect

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Axis of Action

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Thematic Relations

Editors have at their disposal two very powerful techniques for manipulating the perceiver’s place in the hierarchy of knowledge, and therefore affecting our thematic understanding of the film:

• Montage sequences

• Crosscut editing