Updated: Aug 9
Introduction To Flow Of Video Editing
The editor holds possibly the most important role in any film or video production!
Wait. That’s not right! Isn’t that the director, producer, what about the writer? While those positions are certainly important to a film’s success, it is well known that over the years there have been more than a few instances of a film being “saved in the edit.” Originally derived from Robert Bresson, the lesson taught in film schools around the world including my own alma mater, goes like this: “A film is made three times: first on the page, then on set, and finally in the edit.”
The editor controls the pace at which the audience will view the final product, the order in which emotions are experienced, when the story starts and when it is resolved, when the audience grips the edge of their seat, and when they can relax. Today we’ll take a look at some of the tools you have at your disposal as an editor and we’ll help you implement them into your content.
One of the fundamental tools an editor wields is the cut, which involves transitioning from one shot to another. The cut can vary in length, from quick and seamless, to deliberate and jarring, each serving a specific purpose in shaping the narrative and evoking emotions. A well-executed cut can maintain continuity, establish a connection between scenes, or create juxtaposition for dramatic effect. On the other hand, a jump cut can be used to create a sense of unease or disorientation. The editor must decide when to make cuts, considering the flow of the story, the performances of the actors, and the overall visual composition of the shots.
I find the best way to discern whether a particular cut "fits" is to simply not let yourself become absorbed in the flow of a particular section. Sometimes taking a step back allows you to observe it as the viewer would, thinking "If I were the viewer would I find this cut jarring/in keeping with the overall style of cuts?" Remember, as editors we know exactly when a cut is going to happen and so we tend to be far more critical of our work.
Pacing is the tempo or speed at which a film progresses, and it significantly impacts the audience's engagement and emotional experience. A skillful editor can control the pacing by adjusting the duration of shots, the timing of cuts, and the overall rhythm of the narrative. In action-packed sequences, quick cuts and fast-paced editing can create a sense of urgency and excitement. Conversely, for emotional or dramatic moments, a slower pace may allow the audience to absorb and connect with the characters' feelings. Pacing influences the audience's attention and dictates when they feel tense, relaxed, or emotionally invested in the story. As an editor, understanding the desired pacing for different scenes is crucial for guiding the audience through the intended emotional journey of the film.
Timing in film editing is about finding the right moment to execute a cut or transition, ensuring that the audience receives information and emotions at the most impactful instant. This skill involves both intuition and precision. The editor must have an innate sense of timing to emphasize the humor in a joke, heighten suspense during a thrilling sequence, or deliver a powerful emotional punch at just the right moment. Achieving perfect timing requires meticulous attention to detail, as even a slight delay or advancement in a cut can change the impact of a scene significantly. Skillful timing ensures that the story unfolds in a cohesive and engaging manner, leaving a lasting impression on the viewers.
Rhythm in film editing is akin to the beat in music; it is the cadence and flow that determines the overall pace and energy of the film. Editors can create rhythm by arranging shots and scenes in a way that generates a sense of harmony and coherence. The rhythm can be steady and methodical, particularly in certain dialogue-driven scenes, or it can be dynamic and syncopated during action sequences. Rhythmic editing can enhance the emotional impact of a film, making it feel cohesive and unified. By paying attention to the visual and auditory rhythms of the footage, an editor can enhance the storytelling experience, allowing the audience to immerse themselves fully in the narrative.
While the director, producer, and writer all play vital roles in the filmmaking process, the editor holds a unique position as the one who shapes the raw footage into a cohesive and emotionally resonant final product while video editing. By understanding and skillfully implementing editing tools like cuts, pacing, timing, and rhythm, an editor can elevate a film's storytelling, keeping the audience engaged and invested throughout the viewing experience. The power to "save" a film in the edit is a testament to the critical role editors play in shaping cinematic narratives.
Castle Interactive’s media division is positioned to work with you to enhance the quality of your video projects, and we would love to discuss new projects with you. Let’s connect and see how we can work together to get your video projects moving forward!