Jump to content

Professional vs amateur editing


Marc Shepherd
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hello all,

 

A question about editing....

 

I realize that each production, whether a movie, documentary, music video, etc., is edited in different ways depending on what the director, editor, etc., is trying to convey to the viewer. However, I notice that most amateur productions (mine included) look that way primarily (i think) because of poor editing techniques. I've seen scores of really cool composed shots with all the nice post-production techniques applied simply lose all of their impact simply because the production is poorly edited.

 

So, I'd like to get some of your opinions as to what you think is important in editing a production. Again, I realize each one is different based on what the director and DP is trying to convey. However, I believe there has to be some "secret" that separates the pro from the novice. Pacing and timing seem to be the key ingredients. But I just can't seem to put the puzzle together.

 

I often spend hours running through docs and movies with a stopwatch counting the edits and how long shots last. I notice that music videos don't always follow the beat of the song. And those that do tend to get boring very fast. Yet, there does seem to be some type of pace to them. The same with movies. Slow scenes seem to hold shots a bit longer while fast scenes tend to have extremely fast edits (Wow! isn't that a revelation! :) )

 

Any advice and/or resources would greatly be appreciated.

 

Thanks and happy editing!

 

Marc S.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


  • Premium Member

Hi Marc,

 

In general, you want to cut when you as a person in the room would look at something else. If it’s between two people at a table, cut to the other guy when you would look at the other guy if you were actually sitting there as a third party.

 

In dialogue reactions tend to be more interesting than actions (talking).

 

Editing should usually be somewhat dynamic, meaning you would cut either immediately (within a frame) after the moment (dialogue or action) or pause significantly before you cut. It’s usually weird if you split the difference.

 

Match action, I’m sure you know.

 

Once you get all that stuff, the biggest thing for me is cutting when something changes. If someone is looking around a room, I wouldn’t cut until they find something or notice something different. If two people are having a conversation, I wouldn’t cut until the conversation turns. For instance, if they’re just talking about the football game they’re watching at the bar, there’s no reason to cut until one of them says, “by the way, I was fired today…” cut to the reaction… and we’re into the scene. You generally only cut to what’s important.

 

Now once you understand all of these basic rules, you cut for the art of cutting, creating, and re-imagining. Everything is your interpretation. In anything artistic, a nice thing about rules is instinct breaking them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think a good appreciation of rhythm to music and sound is very important, sometimes just the ability to try different things over and over again helps as well. You must be willing to take criticism too, otherwise (if you're working for yourself) the overall look will suffer and you may only notice it much after the production's finished and you're look from that external viewpoint. It's one reason why directors and cinematographers should take that external viewpoint rather than edit themselves, leaving a large part of the technical/creative aspect to a good editor. So that's when a good relationship would come into play, you can't have an arrogant arse as an editor.

 

I suppose good editors take the very best shots (even the bad ones) and cut everything in way that makes everything flow and when they have an idea, they can execute it, being good at executing certain ideas fast and effectively, that will certainly help.

Edited by Marcus Joseph
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Pacing and timing seem to be the key ingredients. But I just can't seem to put the puzzle together."

 

Some would say the content is another equal ingredient.

As far as what form the materials ultimately take- there is no right and wrong,

just levels of style, intent (or lack thereof) and craftsmanship (or lack thereof)-

 

Good books specific to the subject:

Film Technique and Film Acting by Pudovkin

Film Form by Eisenstein

 

and this Cineaste issue is the "editing issue" that includes

thoughts and interviews with professional editors for major english

language/Hollywood films. They pretty much address all the same

fundamental questions but in more modern terms and from the

wisdom of experience and professional practice.

 

http://yhst-57895603352311.stores.yahoo.net/volxxxivno21.html

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Of course if you don't have the right coverage to work with in the first place, no matter how good an editor you are you are going to have a tough time "shining poop" as they say in the biz.

 

Every director needs to think like an editor when on set and planning, otherwise they are going to be screwed in the edit suite. As my DOP Denis Maloney, ASC is fond of saying, "you can always not use it."

 

R,

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Premium Member

Of course if you don't have the right coverage to work with in the first place, no matter how good an editor you are you are going to have a tough time "shining poop" as they say in the biz.

 

Every director needs to think like an editor when on set and planning, otherwise they are going to be screwed in the edit suite. As my DOP Denis Maloney, ASC is fond of saying, "you can always not use it."

 

R,

 

There was a thread on cml recently where a Cinematographer there expressed that editing his own projects taught him very quickly what was needed in coverage to have something you COULD edit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks to all of you for your advice and resources. I'll definitely check them out. Not sure if I'm breaking any rules by posting my YouTube Resource page:

 

http://www.youtube.com/user/TxDOTBeaumont

 

If I am then pardon to presumptiousness on my part.

 

They contain just a few small things I've shot and edited. Mostly a "news" format. However, it will give you an idea as to what my editing "technique" (whether good or bad) is like.

 

I understand I should probably post in the critique section. But am posting it here for continuity's sake.

 

Regards,

Marc S.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Pacing and timing seem to be the key ingredients. But I just can't seem to put the puzzle together.

...

I often spend hours running through docs and movies with a stopwatch

Put the stopwatch away. Timing in this sense does not involve cutting to the exact millisecond.

 

You reminded me of a scene from "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Commander Data, the android, has been trying to learn how to tell jokes. He is discussing the issue with Guynan, the main bartender in the ship's lounge. Guynan (played by Whoopi Goldberg) suggests that maybe he has a problem with timing, and... well, here's the audio clip

 

--

Jim

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Put the stopwatch away. Timing in this sense does not involve cutting to the exact millisecond.

 

You reminded me of a scene from "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Commander Data, the android, has been trying to learn how to tell jokes. He is discussing the issue with Guynan, the main bartender in the ship's lounge. Guynan (played by Whoopi Goldberg) suggests that maybe he has a problem with timing, and... well, here's the audio clip

 

--

Jim

 

Hi Jim,

 

Yes, it does sound anal...and probably is. And while I like to time some edits, I really don't try for the millisecond. My only goal is to get a sense of timing.

 

I've noticed that some shots may be a second or even less than a second. However, I've learned that the very short shots have something that really "pops" or catches my eye. So, it's taught me that my short short really need to stand out, perhaps even more than the long one. I recently looked at a Singapore Airlines commercial which taught me some really valuable lessons in timing, etc.

 

It doesn't take a stopwatch to figure all this out. However, it has at least helped me wrap my brain around some of this.

 

(Yes, I'm rambling about things that all of you already know. However, it has been a learning experience for me.)

 

Again, thanks for the reply,

Commander Data.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...