The Development and Techniques of Editing

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EditingRules,Concepts & Key TerminologySome information has been adapted from

What is editing?The post-production process

Editing is how material (visual and audio) is combined. The basic edit, the cut derives its name from the fact that film used to be physically cut with scissors, and spliced together again, with the unwanted footage discarded (or left on the cutting room floor). PurposeBy combining shots into sequences we are able to present a narrative, an idea or a visual art-form. Not all media texts have coherent narratives and it is by editing in certain ways that we can create meaning through edits.

For example, The Kuleshov Effect (Lev Kuleshov, 1910s-1920s)Conventions and Techniques

Ivan Mozzhukhin was the subject of Kuleshovs experimentsConventions and Techniques

Conventions and Techniques

How we edit these daysIn this college, we use non-linear editing and we edit video that has been uploaded from either DV tapes or SD cards. In the film industry, much work is still recorded onto film stock, (although this is changing rapidly).

Creating Meaning Through EditingThe historical development of editing for meaningIn the early days of filmmaking, in the early 1900s, there was no fixed way of editing for meaning.

A system gradually developed principally through Hollywood filmmaking which was designed to overcome the potential for every edit to confuse the audience and to allow them to follow the action. These days, moving-image storytelling relies largely on this system.

A central aspect of this process came to be known as the continuity system, which is composed of a series of loose rules about how shots should be combined.The continuity system is composed of:180 degree ruleEstablishing shots and re-establishing shotsEyeline-match cuttingMatch-on-action cuttingShot-reverse shotAdditionally, a number of other conventions developed to help establish the diegetic presentation of time and space, and the role of characters, within a narrative:Close-ups, OTS and POVs, and reaction shots to create main protagonists and audience identification with themFades and dissolves for time-shifts of various kindsCross-cutting/parallel editing to create relationships between different settings

These days, many of these rules are broken for effect Frame Rate

Film consists of a series still frames which, if played at the correct speed, create the illusion of moving images. The standard frame rate used in film is 24 (frames per second) although UK TV (PAL) is 25 and US TV (NTSC) is 29.97 FPS.

Frame rate varies depending on the media platform. For example, animation works in 2s meaning that each frame is held for two frames so only 12 different frames are shown every second. In order use slow-motion footage of a high quality, the frame rate should be as high as possible. Consumer cameras are now available that shoot at 600fps. Professional cameras now exist that shoot at 1,000,000fps and at the college, the HD cameras you use can film at 50fps.

In-camera editing

At this college we do not need to use in-camera editing as we have the resources to edit in post-production using Premiere Pro.

In-camera editing involves creating videos without uploading footage and requires you to shoot the footage in the order of the final sequence. Its a good place to start if you have a limited budget. Your introduction for your video will be edited in-camera.

Video Editing Technology 1Video Editing Technology 2Linear editingConsidered by most to be obsolete, linear editing involves editing tape-to-tape, without the need for editing software. Until the 1990s it was the only method of editing and was just called video editing. The finished videotape is called the master. This is an example of how things happened in the analogue days before digital convergence.

Non-linear editingNow seen as the norm, non-linear editing is the process of combining uploaded footage whilst being able to instantly access individual shots, or even frames, without having to trawl through reels of footage. It has been made possible by digital convergence of previously separate technologies.

Following the action

Before filming it is important to consider the desired end result, hence the pre-production stage.

If you were to shoot a sequence in which a fight takes place between two guys, you could film a single long take of the two (from a position that allows you to capture all of the action) and then put that onto your timeline, or you could shoot the fight with a master shot (the single long take) and also numerous angles and shot distances (taking care not to violate the 180 degree rule), and then edit the footage together so that each shot appears to follow the last. If you have done it properly, this should result in a seamless flow of shots which follow the action without the audience ever getting confused.Shooting footage to make editing easier 113The seamless flow of effective editing

Quantum of Solace (Forster, 2008)14Multiple points of view

1st person: Taken from the subjects perspective used a lot in horror films to create tension as a 1st person view can place viewers within the scene. The 1st person shot is also commonly known as a POV shot.Blair Witch Project (Myrick; Sanchez, 1999)Cloverfield (Reeves, 2008)

DevelopmentMultiple points of view

3rd person: By shooting in 3rd person the audience can be given omniscience allowing them to see more detail within the scene/narrative. Shooting in 3rd person means that the camera is directed at a subject or an object rather than taking its place.

DevelopmentMultiple points of view

Changing the point of view can result in various outcomes. For example, POV shots are used in horror films to show the perspective of either the victim/potential victim or the villain. This puts the audience in the scene, in the position of the character. Whereas, 3rd person shots show the audience a scene.

DevelopmentShot variation

We all know by now how boring a sequence can be unless we utilise different shot types and angles (although you should always be aware that there is always a time and place for long takes and repetitious camerawork).

By moving the camera you can achieve a variety of outcomes. For example, an extreme close-up shows immense detail, whereas an establishing shot sets the scene. Be sure to consider genre and tone when deliberating your shot types and always ask why am I framing this shot at this lengthand angle?

DevelopmentManipulation of diegetic time and space

Through editing (if you have the right footage) you can take the audience on a journey; you can take them to far off destinations, even fictional ones and you can also present them with events which, in reality, would last years but in the cinema last around 90 minutes.

As editors, you have the ability to manipulate diegetic time by using the right shots and edits (transitions).DevelopmentManipulation of diegetic time

In Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 (Tarantino, 2003 & 2004), The Bride travels the world to hunt and assassinate five individuals. In the films, which total 4 hours, The Bride is able to travel to the various locations in that short time frame because sequences that do not progress the narrative, such as check-in at the airport, are not included in the finished sequence.

Shooting footage to make editing easier 2Manipulating diegetic space and timeYou may be filming a sequence in which a character travels from one location to another but you will not want to show the whole journey. Through editing it is possible to shorten that journey but also change from one location to another. Similarly you may want to show an exterior of a building before showing someone in an office inside it


The prominent purpose of editing footage is to tell a story. Whether to follow the conventional CHN or to create an artistic statement, editing is the process of creating an audio-visual message.

In order to create a successful media product, the creator needs to engage the viewer and this can be achieved by implementing various editing techniques.


When progressing the narrative, it is up to the creator to develop the drama in order to engage the viewer. As viewers, we have expectations of narrative structures and formats so we think we know what is coming. Think back to Todorovs narrative theory and how media texts build towards a climax. This can be achieved by using more, shorter length shots and tightening the framing to show tension and emotion.

If drama does not develop then the viewer will become disengaged and bored. You may have witnessed this when you hear a film or TV show described as slow.Editing and GenreThe editing of a particular media product will depend on the genre of the piece. Depending on its relationship to the genre, the media text will be edited in a genre specific or conventional way.

For example, when watching an action film we expect to see lots of cuts in order to match the pace and to create excitement. Whereas, if you watch a television (period) drama, you will find that there are far fewer cuts and transitions to make it seem more realistic.

Shooting footage to make editing easier 3Creating pace involves using cuts and other transitions to slow down or speed up a sequence. Long takes and lack of edits creates a slow pace, whereas rapid editing generates excitement.

For example, imagine a scene in which a child is out with their parents; the pace may be slow and the takes will be long. However, if the child then wanders off and becomes lost, the shots will become shorter in length, we will get more close-ups and th