Published on February 25, 2014
CLASS 6 The Art of Editing Rhythm, Pace, Emotion Shannon Walsh / SM2002 / Spring 2014 School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong
Good editing makes the director look good. Great editing makes the film look like it wasn’t directed at all. -Victor Fleming The Art of Editing
“IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE” FOCUS ON EDITOR: WALTER MURCH
1. Emotion: How will this cut affect the audience emotionally at this particular moment in the film? 2. Story: Does the edit move the story forward in a meaningful way? 3. Rhythm: Is the cut at a point that makes rhythmic sense? 4. Eye Trace: How does the cut effect the location and movement of the audience's focus in that particular film? 5. Two-Dimensional Plane of Screen: Is the axis followed properly? 6. Three-Dimensional Space - Is the cut true to established physical and spatial relationships? Walter Murch: The rule of 6
The editing aims to tell an emotional story with a series of fragmented shots. “How do you want the audience to feel?” The Conversation
What is Pace? • Variation in pace effects emotional response to film • Pacing is a tool for shaping rhythm in a film. • Fast pacing and Slow pacing can change the mood and feeling of the film. Limits of Pace In Touch of Evil (1958) Welles used one tracking shot to create a powerful sequence, without editing, showing how composition, lighting, performance also are critical. Pace & Rhythm
• To enhance their rhythmic intuition, editors actively perceive the rhythmic movement of life and of the world around them. • Walter Murch says a good editor has to have a sense of rhythm is “like telling a good joke” Rhythm Walter Murch Clip on Rhythm: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcBpXLNmS3Q
One element of Pace Timing: the duration or the length of time a shot is held. • Understanding the purpose of the sequence to decide how to edit for dramatic effective • A 10 second shot will feel long if it is juxtaposed with a series of 1second shots. • The feeling of a shot’s duration is created by the relative duration of the shots near to it and the concentration of information, movement, and change within it. • “Where in a sequence should a particular close-up or cutaway be positioned for maximum impact? When is a subjective shot more powerful than a an objective one? What is the most effective patter of crosscutting between shots?” Timing
Genre Comedy & Adventure Films like Raising Arizona (1987) & Raiders of the Lost Arc (1981) use fast pace & timing to build energy and excitement
We know when it does not have rhythm (jerky shots, or we notice the editing). When the rhythm works, the edit seems smooth. Rhythm is often individual and intuitive, but there are some rules, The amount of visual information can determine length of shot: • A long shot has more information than CU, so will be held longer so audience can take it in; • If there is new information (location) the shot might be held longer • Moving shots are often held longer in order to absorb information • A CU, static shot or repeated shot is often on screen for less time. Finding emotional clarity in the scene: • Respecting emotional structure of performances; • Distinguish performance from error, or dead space; • Understanding the narrative goals of the scene. Rhythm
Complex use of rhythmic pacing in The Conformist (1971) Bernardo Bertolucci
In the Mood for Love (1994) mix between fast paced jump cuts (Su running up stairs), and melodic slow long takes.
“The new shot in this case is different enough to signal that something has changed, but not different enough to make us re-evaluate its context.” (6) Why do cuts Work? Walter Murch wonders: Is it because they are like our dreams?
What causes us to blink? “Film is like a thought. It’s the closes to thought process of any art. Look at that lamp across the room. Now look back at me. Look back at that lamp. Now look back at me again. Do you see what you did? You blinked. Those are cuts.” (John Huston, 60) Angry people, or cowboy standoffs, ‘You blinked!’ – Rate of blinking linked to our emotional state. In the blink of an eye
“The blink is either something that helps an internal separation of thought to take place, or it is an involuntary reflex accompanying the mental separation that is taking place anyway.” “That blink will occur where a cut could have happened, had the conversation been filmed.” In the blink of an eye
1. 2. 3. Identifying a series of potential cut points (and comparisons with the blink can help you do this) Determining what effect each cut point will have on the audience, and Choosing which of those effects is the correct one for the film. “I believe the sequence of thoughts – that is to say, the rhythm and rate of cutting– should be appropriate to whatever the audience is watching at the moment.” “You are blinking for the audience…Your job is partly to anticipate, partly to control the thought processes of the audience… if you are too far behind or ahead of them, you create problems, but if you are right with them, leading them ever so slightly, the flow of events feels natural and exciting at the same time” -Walter Murch
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