Edits in HistoryCinema was becoming a language, and editingis the syntax.
The first film 1895Created by the Lumiere brothers , the fist film featured in the basement of The Grand Caf in Paris in 1895. The Film was called Workers Leaving Lumiere Factory even though know days the film would look some what dull, its 1985 audience marvelled a the thought and sight of a motion image as this was a completely knew experience and innovation. The content of the film was not so important, but the dancing shadows and the machines behind them were the main attraction, as seen in Lumiere brothers Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat, the incoming train made audience members jump out of there seats in fear, without consideration of the films content.
EDITING FADES IN 1896George Melies, a magician, was one of those people who in the basement of The Grand Caf in Paris that watched the Lumiere brothers films. Inspired by film he sought to buy a cinematographe for 10,000 franks from the Lumiere brothers, but the brothers refused due to risk of competition. So Melies bought a animatograph and reversed the mechanics and turned it into cinematograph. A few months after the Lumiere brothers screening. Melies was making and screening his own films as part of his stage show. In the fall of 1896, Melies was in Paris shooting a bus coming out of a tunnel when his camera jammed in the middle of the take when he got the camera working again the bus was gone and replaced by a hearse. When Melies developed the film he discovered a magical and startling thing ,the bus turned into the hearse. Established know as the jump cut. Melies put this discovery to work right away, using jump cuts in his films to create disappearing and reappearing effects, as seen in the film The Haunted Castle in 1896. Through Meliess still photography and magic lantern experience Melies also introduced; editing techniques like fade in and fade out, over lapping dissolves, and stop motion photography. Through the innovations of Melies in editing, film was able to take the characteristics of a narrative story, which Mieles premiered in the film Trip to the Moon. This changed film from mundane single action shots to charismatic more exuberant film. Yet the camera angles still never changed as Melies was stuck in the theater mode of thinking of that time.
Editing in theory
Across the Atlantic ocean Edward S Porter started of as vitascope projectionists setting up the first Edisons projector at Koster and Bials Music Hall in New York City in 1896. For a few years he operated his own equipment until 1900, when he joined Edison manufacturing company and became head of production of Edisons Skylight studio in New York City, 21st street. For the next five years he served as Edisons director and go to camera man. Porters background as a projectionist gave him a unique insight into film. He was greatly influenced by the works of George Melies, especially 1902s a trip to the moon which he often duplicated for distribution for Edison. Porter decided to have is hand in a narrative story film in 1903s Life of the American Fireman. the uniqueness of Porters Film was that he took stock footage from the Edison library and sliced it together with staged scenes to create a fictional narrative. Yet porter as Melies was stuck in this tableau mentality constructing each shot as a complete scene. Temporal over laps were common, as shown in Life of the American Fireman when the firemen slid down the pole, which to our eyes would appear strange, but still intriguing to those who still were excited by the idea of moving pictures. But the novelty would were off. Porter pushed the boundaries of narrative film with his next film The Great Train Robbery , Porter is more decisive with his cuts and scraping between scenes with out using dissolve or cuts and most importantly without letting the scene meeting its logical end. By this film makers began to see how editing could compress time in favor of the impact rather than reality. Porter began to create a new cinematic language he showed us that the basis of a film is not the scene, as Melies and his contemporaries thought, but the shot. Meaning not only came from spectacle like in theatre and still photography, but the way that shots are arranged in time. But like George Melies, Porter took editing on so far it took another artist to build on their work and expand the editing vocabulary. Porter would inspire just that man.
how todays editing came to be.I1n 1908, just before leaving Edison to start his own production company. Porter hired a young starving actor to fill the lead art in Rescued from a Eagles Nest . David Wark Griffith. Kentucky bed and seventh child of a confederate army colonel, Wark went from hop picking, selling encyclopedias, door to door acting. He had a life long dream of being a writer, he was fascinated by Victorian literature and it inspired him, especially that of Charles Dickens . Yet as misfortune may Griffith unlike the Victorian greats had unremarkable plays and poems. Then counseled by a friend Griffith took to writing scenarios for movie companies. Under the stage name Lawrence Griffith, he submitted an adapted play to a Mr. Edwin S Porter. Porter rejected it. He thought there were to many scenes. But he did hire Griffith to star in one of his films. Thats when the filmmaking bug bit Griffith found a position at Biograph. A production company struggling, in debt, and looking for directors. After directing the Adventures of Dollie, Griffith was given a $45 a week directors contract. Under contract to Biograph , Griffith would make over 450 films from 1908 -1911, pushing cinema out of the primitive tableau mentality and into a multi shot medium we would now know. One of Griffiths first inventions in film was the cut in first used in The Greasers Gauntlet in 1908, four months after his first his first film for Biograph. Griffith cut from a medium long shot in the middle to emphasize the emotional impact of an exchange between two actors, a new concept to further advance editing in film. Griffith also created the concept of Continuity Editing. Continuity editing is cutting between shots with the purpose of maintaining smooth sense of continuous space and time. With this the 180 degree rule, inter cutting or cross cutting( bouncing between two different scenes in a parallel action) first put to use on After Many Years. The film was based on a poem called Enoch Arden showing a shipwrecked man and the woman he loved back home. A common narrative in todays film industry but wholly new at that time. Biographs managers thought the idea dangerous and confusing to the audience. Yet Griffith knew and stood firm likening the technique to the writing style of Charles Dickens. After many years was acclaimed as a master piece. Griffith kept on doing more. 1909 The Lonely Villa intercutted between 3 parallel actions a woman held up in a house, robbers trying to break in, and a husband rushing home to the rescue. Da da DA da ( superman theme). Griffith builds the tempo of cut faster and faster to an ultimate cinematic climax amping the tension. Through varying the spatial distance with long medium and close up shots and the lengths of shots, Griffith began to establish the tenets of Classic Hollywood Continuity Editing.
Through practical problem solving and experimentation, he and contemporary filmmakers who often copied the style, brought about concepts like the establishing shot, reverse shots, matchingeyelines - everything we think about in terms of continuity editing.