EDITING & POST PRODUCTION READING SUMMARY
Alright, lets play a game. You are Simon, and Simon says “Look at the the student entering the classroom!” Simon says “Turn up the Deadmaus Chill Mix!”, then he says “Look at the student mounting a camera on a tripod!” Simon says “Look at the student drinking coffee in front of a laptop!”. Simon says “Look at the back lit keyboard, the sound of typing blends in with the electronic beats!”. In Chapter 10 of The Bare Bones Camera Course for Film and Video, Tom Schroeppel teaches us that editing video is a lot like a game of “Simon Says” with your audience and you are the one in control. We just edited a basic sequence of a story about a person taking an audio video course. Human beings see and remember in terms of basic sequences. Schroeppel writes “As an editor your first priority is to establish the world of the program for your viewers, begin with an establishing shot….a basic sequence – cutting back and forth between related shots in the same location – mimics the way your viewers see life”. Basic sequences are the building blocks of telling a visual story, these are strung together through transitions to tell it. Keep these sequences in mind as you go through production and enter the post production editing process.
But before you begin editing, read your script and make sure you understand the tone and message of your piece. Above all else, (style, effort, favorite actors..whatever) base all your editing decisions on this understanding. Continuously ask yourself how the viewers are supposed to react or feel about what they are experiencing. Try to assess the raw material you have collected and generated during production with fresh eyes. A helpful way to reassess a storyboard or plan before editing is to perform a “paper edit” where you sort scenes and elements similarly to kanban board or “Kj method”. Sometimes mixing, chopping and reordering your original plan after you have shot makes for better presentation.
It may be helpful to take some time between production and editing in order to do this, but not if you are currently enrolled ICM508 Module 4….if that is the case, you better grind your project out in one week or else! Simon says “DON’T BE LATE!”. Yes, there are strict deadlines in the real world too, so do all you can to stay objective, blank your mind, take walks, seek feedback. “You as the editor must divorce yourself from your edited work in order to judge it properly”. In editing and re-editing, you must be brutal, anything that doesn’t contribute or is superfluous to your story must go.
Now that we have the right state of mind, let’s look at some editing guidelines.
Pacing is how fast things change. How long it takes to jump from one cut to the next, scene length and so on. Rule of thumb is that if something is important spend more time on it. Repetition also helps to establish key points. Anticipate your viewers, keep them interested by showing something new, don’t let their eyes get bored.
Generally, you will have maximum control over your sounds if you have them on separate tracks. Keep this in mind during production. The purpose of background music is to establish mood. The only purpose of the soundtrack, the mixing of voices, music, effects and foley sounds is to drive the story. Sound is often more powerful in that regard than the visuals. L CUTS is when the current sounds bleed into the next cut or scene. J CUTS are when we hear sounds from the next cut or scene before we see the visual. Both make for great transitions and storytelling mechanisms.
Cuts & Transition Techniques:
- Standard Cut – just put two clips together
- Jump Cut – pushes forward in time. The student has cup in hand, The student is typing, we didn’t see them put the cup down. Simon says “don’t look at that, it is not important, it wastes time and time is money”
- Montage – usually used to demonstrate passage of time or helps to give an overall context. Think of it as a collage.
- Cross Dissolve – overlapping “layers”
- Wipe – The next scene “pushes” the current scene out. Left to right, up and down etc.
- Fade In/Out – You fade out one clip and fade in the other. This also applies to sound. There is a brief void in between. Dip to white, dip to black.
- Cutting on Action – Cut at the point of action, because that’s what our eyes and brains are naturally expecting. When someone kicks open a door, we expect to see the change in angle when the door is kicked.
- Cutaway Shots – Cutaways are shots that take viewers away from the main characters or action. They give extra context to the scene. They can also break up long shots for pacing purposes.
- Cross Cut or Parallel Editing – This type of editing is when you cut between two different scenes that are happening at the same time in different places.
- Match Cut – Using visual elements from both cuts (or scenes) to tie them together, it could be a shape, color, person to give context and continuity to the scene and push it in a certain direction, without disorienting the viewer.
- Smash Cut – transitioning between two completely different scenes, emotions, or narratives and you need to make an abrupt transition. Purposefully, don’t make it look like a mistake.
- Invisible Cut – Merging cuts so seamlessly that it looks as though it was done in one long take. Takes true production planning.
Check out this great demonstration of all these cutting techniques by Rocket Jump Film School
Well that’s it for your editing tool box. Below are three different examples of editing styles. As you watch these, try to analyze what decisions the editor made to create a mood, relay a message of get a reaction. Simon says “Enjoy!”
The Godfather – Greatest Parallel Cutting Scene
In this scene when Michael finally emerges as the Godfather aftering ordering the murder of his fathers rivals and betrayers, Scorsese brilliantly cross cuts between his alibi, a baptism and the violence. The irony and symbolism contained within this scene is magnificent. The pace is medium and methodical but far from boring.
Panda (Official Music Video)
The quick pace of cuts, hand held and smashes in this music video create a feeling of tension but flow nicely with the rappers style. The ECU and wild angles contribute to the viewers disorientation but the medium shots of Pandas animated face anchor the viewer once again and express the madness of life on the run and another night on “the block”. This is not a cute and cuddly panda struggling for survival.
“Roma” (Traveling Scene) Netflix 2018, Alfonso Cuarón
In this almost seamless scene in Alfonso Cuaron’s “ROMA”, he uses a slow pace and wide angle long takes to show how small and fragile the main character is. It demonstrates the painful journey she takes to tell a fling she is pregnant through a surreal landscape in 1970s Mexico. Despite the slowness of the scene, the viewer is transfixed by the rich details and background actions of children, onlookers, passing people and a man getting shot out of a cannon. Every scene of this movie portrays the young girl as patient but strong against the living tapestry of her environment. Yes, ugly can be beautiful. (Sorry about the quality, I couldn’t find this online so I quickly shot this on my iPhone from tv bootleg style)
More beautiful slow scenes from ROMA:
Shawn is an Information Technology manager in Washington D.C. and a graduate student at Quinnipiac University pursuing his masters in Interactive Media and Communications.
13 Creative Editing Techniques Every Video Editor Should Know. (2016, November 02). Retrieved from https://blog.pond5.com/11099-13-creative-editing-techniques-every-video-editor-should-know
Paul, J. (2016). 8 Essential Cuts Every Editor Should Know. Beat: A Blog by PremiumBeat. Retrieved from https://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/8-essential-cuts-every-editor-should-know
Schroeppel, T., & DeLaney, C. (2015). The Bare Bones Camera Course for Film and Video. Allworth. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Bare-Bones-Camera-Course-Video/dp/1621535266
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