Editing for story.

This morning Carsten presented a series of film clips, following up with information about their editing techniques; how certain decisions are used to create a flowing/seamless narrative. I recall him saying “editing is an invisible art…it is telling stories”. What he meant was that editing is what strings each part together thus creating the final finished  product. Editing is a crucial aspect in film and television, for the editor must make cuts and transitions that will seam very natural and barely noticeable to the audience. This way, a film may be easily watched and followed with our eyes. 

We looked at Whiplash (2015, Damien Chazelle) as an example of how a narrative is established through particular editing choices. A drum roll in heard in blackness, then we cut to the drummer at the end of a grungy lit up room; he plays the drum set vigorously. Then the camera moves in with a slow zoom (as if the audience is walking down the hallway towards him). We cut than older man looking at him from the doorway. Notice the power  created from the angling of shots; a low and high camera angle is used to demonstrate a dominant figure and a more submissive one. Hard lighting is used which amplifies a power status and creates a grungy poorly lit urban scene feeling.

Carsten showed us that the editors work closely alongside the directors through a visual example:

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 3.19.49 PM

We also explored Walter Murch’s ‘Rule of Six’ which is applied to editing. Mad Max proved to be a great example of the eye trace effect, which is applied according to where you want the audience to be looking in every shot. Mad Max made sure to keep every detail dead centre in order to make quick cuts that coincide with the fast paced action narrative.

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 3.21.21 PM

Some other techniques that we discussed were that of the 180 degree rule, cheesy and more professional transitional cuts, the match cut and elliptic editing. We also looked into the famous beach scene from Spielberg’s Jaws (1975). We looked at how the narrative is built up between a mother and son through colouration (red and yellow), camera panning between characters, positioning of people safe and mother with lost son on the dangerous waters edge. The camera moves between different points of tension for the Sheriff; he hears a girl scream, sees a boy throwing sticks for his dog, people swimming, annoying man talking to him and blocking the view…these all build up the oncoming tension and provide clues to the audience of the onsetting danger (shark attack).

When I got home, I re-watched the Youtube clip: How does an editor think and feel? It was interesting to hear what he had to say about the eyes of the actors being very important, for they help to indicate emotion and where an editor may naturally cut between shots. He also made a good point about the audience not being robotic – out human minds need time to process emotions portrayed to us in order to develop a personal connection and understanding. He compared Luke Skywalker’s failure scene to that of Antmans. This comparison proved how crucial timing really is in this respect. Rhythm is another important factor that helps to depict the type of emotion conveyed throughout a scene. This video contained very helpful examples and it was easy to understand.

Overall, today was really interesting. I learnt some new editing techniques such as what the match cut, Rule of Six and 180 degree rule is. I enjoy pulling apart every aspect of film because it begins to show how truly intense it is to create such an amazing end product. A great amount of thought and work goes into every detail; if even one part was changed, the whole meaning of the story and its intended emotion would be affected.



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