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AS Art Video


 Film editing developed from the 1920’s as
cameras became lighter and filmmakers
experimented with framing and camera
movement. It has become the most discussed
film technique. An ordinary Hollywood film
typically contains between 1000 and 2000
shots; and action based movie can have 3000
or more. Editing shapes the organization of film
and how it affects us as spectators.

 The co-ordination of one shot with the next.

 The elimination of unwanted footage
 The joining of shots together

 On Film stock these are achieved in the lab during

postproduction or through software in digital editing.
 Joins can be:
 A Fade-out – darkens the end of a shot to black
 A Fade-in – lightens a shot from black
 A Dissolve – superimposes the end of the first shot
and beginning of the second shot
 A Wipe –Shot 1 replaces shot 2 by means of a
boundary line moving across the screen.
 A Cut – Mostly Cuts appear ‘invisible’ an instantaneous change
from one scene or view to another.
 Experimental filmmakers like Michael Snow or Andy Warhol
often did not cut film at all, but used the whole length of film.
 E.G. Alfred Hitchcock’s THE BIRDS (CH13)
 Melanie is isolated within the frame through cutting and we follow
her POV to the gas station outside.
 Most sequences are shot with one camera and are therefore shot
multiple times
 Therefore shots have to be planned to be pieced together in the
 Editing offers the filmmaker four basic areas
of choice.
 Graphic relations between shot A and Shot B
 Rhythmic relations between shot A and B
 Spatial relations between Shot A and B
 Temporal relations between shot A and B
1.Graphic relations between
shot A and Shot B
 Shots can be considered and appreciated purely for their graphical
relations and composition. Editing any two shots permits the
interaction, through similarity and difference, of the purely pictorial
qualities of those two shots. . Every shot provides possibilities for
purely graphic editing, and every cut creates some sort of graphic
relationship between two shots.
 Graphics maybe edited to achieve smooth continuity or abrupt
 Similarity between shots = Graphic Match e.g. Alien
 Discontinuity between shots = For graphic abrasions or to contrast
characters. Shots can clash also through changes of colour and
lighting (light to dark, red to blue) e.g. The Birds – Contrast in the
direction of Melanie’s look to the direction of the flame. Contrast
between movement and stasis.
Rhythmic Relations between
shot A and Shot B.
 Editing allows the filmmaker to determine the duration of each
shot. By adjusting the length of each shot in relation to each cut.
The editor controls the rhythmic potential of editing. Although
rhythm is also created from movement within the frame, sound
and music, mise-en-scene etc, it is primarily created through
 Accent – short cuts or changes to stress a moment, long pauses
to accentuated and action or scene
 Beat - Use of shot length to create a discernible rhythm. A
metrical beat can be created through placing several shots of the
same length together.
 Tempo – action can be slowed down by gradually decreasing the
length of the shots or sped up by increasing it. E.G. THE BIRDS
Spatial Relations between
shot A and B
 Editing allows the filmmaker to move
instantaneously from one shot to another. These
spatial locations can be linked through similarity,
difference or development in movement or narrative.
 Spatial Continuity/Co-existence - E.G. The Birds
creates spatial relation and continuity between the
Café and the Gas station/outside world.
 Spatial relations - Lev Kuleshov, The kuleshov
Effect – 1920’s experimented with our assumptions
by showing a n audience shots of a neutral actors
face intercut with various other shots; soup, nature
scenes a dead women a baby. The audience
reported changes in the actors face.
Temporal Relations Between
Shot A and B
 Like other film techniques, editing can control the
time of the action denoted in the film. Through the
order of the presentation of events
 Continuous 1,2,3 The Birds
 Reversed.
 Flashbacks e.g. Apocalypse Now
 Flashforwards Easy Rider CH 26, CH 29
 Films can also move backwards and forwards in
time as in Pulp Fiction
Elliptical editing (Concise)
 – presents an action in such a way that it consumes less time on
the screen than it does in the story.
 Punctuation - An action such as climbing stays can be cut so that
it doesn’t have to occur in real time. A punctuation shot can be
used such as a fade, flash of white to move the action on. These
punctuations suggest to the viewer that time has on.
 Empty Frames - The actor moves out of frame at the bottom of
the stairs. Cut to top of the stairs and actor moving into frame.
 Cutaway – Man walking upstairs cut to a brief scene outside and
then back to the man at the top of the stairs.
Expansive Editing

 - Moments of time or events can be extended

or repeated to accentuate an image or of time
passed. The Russian filmmakers of the
1920’s made frequent use of temporal
expansion through such overlapping editing.
In Strike and October and Ivan the Terrible
scenes are extended to accentuate moments.

 Repetition – Occasionally filmmakers will

repeat an action more than once to
accentuate a moment. Martial arts films often
repeat a move and from different angles to
accentuate it.

 Most filmmakers use the dominant film editing style

called continuity editing which allows stories to be
told clearly and coherently. Narrative continuity.
 Filmmakers begin to make cuts from 1900
 Creates a smooth flow from shot to shot
 Figures are balanced and symmetrically deployed in the
 Lighting tonality remains constant
 Long-shots are left longer on the screen than medium
shots, medium shots longer than close-ups.
The 180 Degree system

 In the continuity style the space of a scene is constructed along

what is called the axis of action/center line/180 line. The cameras
cannot move beyond this 180 degree semicircle.
 The 180 degree system ensures that relative positions in the
frame remain consistent.
 Consistent eyeline matches
 Consistent screen direction – Characters must move in the same
direction so as not to disorientate the viewer.
 e.g. A western where two characters face each other in a
showdown if filmed from the other side of the axis line. Space is
delineated clearly. The characters are positioned clearly in
relation to each other and the setting
EXAMPLE: The opening of
John Huston’s The Maltese
 Eyeline Match – shot of person looking followed by a shot of
what they are looking at. Creates a strong spatial continuity (Like
off-screen sound)
 Re-establishing shot – adjustment of camera position for
character movement/action
 Establishment/breakdown/re-establishment
 Match-on-action Person standing up from 1 angle cut to the
same action from a different angle)(Remember films shot with 1
camera). Creates a great sense of spatial continuity.
 All of this creates continuity our minds fill in the gaps and join the
sequences together.
 The Axis of action can be moved according to the movements of
the actors.

 Crosscutting gives us an unrestricted knowledge of causal, temporal, or

spatial information by alternating shots from one line of action in one place
with shots of other events in other places.
 First developed by D.W. Griffith
 Example from Fritz Lang’s M Chapter 8/9
 Crosscutting builds up suspense
 Ties together the different lines of action –temporal simultaneity
 Presents narrative actions occurring in several locales at once.
 Continuity editing reinforces habitual expectations and therefore becomes a
powerful device for the spectator. These conventions can also therefore be
counteracted. By the 1930’s continuity editing was the standard approach to
 Films are cut much faster today. In the period between 1930 and 1960 -300-
500 shots
 Today – over 1200 shots Perhaps the influence of Television. Faster cutting
is easier to follow on smaller screens
The Montage Sequence/

 In order to cover large periods of time in a

story. Many cuts are used temporally to
suggest time passing this is often called a
montage sequence. E>G. Silence of the
 There are many alternatives to the continuity
style which we will look at next week.
Key Terms
 Graphic relations between shot A and Shot B (Graphic match graphic
 Rhythmic relations between shot A and B (Accent, beat, Tempo)
 Spatial relations between Shot A and B (Spatial Continuity or
 Temporal relations between shot A and B (Continuous, reversed,
flashback, flash-forward, elliptical – Empty Frame, cutaways
 Expansive Editing
 Repetition
 Continuity Editing
 The 180 Degree System
 Crosscutting
 Montage

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