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Understanding Editing

nicoleponsford | Wednesday December 07, 2011

Categories: Analysis, Film Analysis, Micro Analysis, Hot Entries, Key Concepts, Film Language, Production Zone, Moving Image Production

What is it?

This is the post-production process of making a moving image text, by the selection and ordering of a range of shots (the footage) into a continuous sequence. Editing can bring in audio (dialogue, score and sound effects), titles (credits) and still images.

Editing can help to enforce a theme, narrative or atmosphere, due to the pace and combination of elements selected. This could be through the use of a montage, the use of continuity editing, or the timing of music combined with the footage to create a mixture of emotive responses in the audience (from happy to sad, from horror to humour). If editing is done well, you normally would not realise it has been edited at all. Editing has been called the ‘Invisible’ art.

Most editing is now done digitally and is non-linear. This can be created with both home and office editing applications, as well as in industrial editing suites. For example, Mac computers come with basic editing software as part of iLife (this is called iMovie - and you are able to create an A grade Level 3 production with it). There is even free editing software available online (please see the iTraining Guide for Editing for more details).

Films now have a range of Editors. Gone are the days of there being just a ‘Picture’ Editor as part of the crew. In a contemporary film, there are editors for sound, music and visual effects. The ‘Picture’ Editor / Cinematographer and Director would then supervise these departments. In a lower budget film, an Editor might have responsibility for all these areas.

Editing can include:

  • Visual mock-ups
  • Sound effects by a foley artist
  • Musical score
  • Range of footage
  • Credits / titles

Its effect can be to:

  • Create a montage - a short selection of footage compressed to illustrate time passing or to represent different narratives happening simultaneously
  • Exaggerate the emotion of an actor’s performance
  • Illustrate the pace and timing of an event - speed...

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