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Film Editing

Page history last edited by Air Dupaix 10 years, 9 months ago


Film editing is the process of joining separate shots together in a sequential manner in order to produce a comprehensible narrative film. Once post-production on a film begins, an editor is given the raw footage (often not filmed chronologically), and must work with the director to place scenes in a logical order to tell the story. Editing involves a great deal of creativity and is often referred to as an art. Whereas a director may have shot several long, uninterrupted shots, an editor can choose to splice other angles of that scene in for various effects. Editing is a critical tool for telling a narrative and it keeps the story line on an even keel.



Film Editing History 

The earliest film editing was done with the camera. The director would stop filming at the end of a scene, then move the camera or alter the stage, and begin filming again. Georges Méliès used this technique for early special effects (infoplease.com). He would set off a small cloud of smoke in front of an actor, stop filming, then resume once the actor had left the frame, making it appear as though the actor had vanished in a poof of smoke.



D.W. Griffith popularized traditional film editing with his fims of the early 1900's. Griffith would track continuous action through a house by cutting different shots together, and he also used cuts of closer shots on actors to capture subtler emotions in their faces. Some of Griffith's editing techniques were very basic montage sequences (infoplease.com), a concept quickly further developed by Soviet film makers such as Lev Kuleshov, Dziga Vertov, and Vsevolod Pudovkin . Montages were initially used as propoganda techniques, attempting to boost morale with back-to-back shots of picturesque national pride. This "basic" editing style is now known as Continuity Editing.


Early editing was also used as juxtapostion and would compare scenes to each other as they were edited together.


We see with Thomas Edison's Annabelle's Butterfly Dance, that at the earliest stages of film making editing was accuring.


As film editing has evolved over the years, many people fear a degredation of it. Films up into the 1970's used very lengthy shots and kept the action in one shot. Present day editors have been cutting these longer shots into a quick cycle of camera angles in one scene as the action happens. Many editors feel a pressure to make scenes more exciting or energetic by frantically cutting between different camera angles, while many others come from backgrounds of editing commercials where they must try to boil down meaning into a 30-second spot (Winter, Boston Globe). Editing has also now come under the reign of the digital world. Film editors no longer edit only raw film; with new technologies they manipulate sound effects, add in music, and edit special effects. 


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