One of my favorite parts about video is the ability to edit. I have seen many films and short pieces that I love and don’t even notice the editing, and then I’ve seen others where I feel like they have potential, but were pieced together wrong. Editing is part of the story telling, just like sound and visuals, and when it is not good, it’s noticeable. Does anyone here watch CSI? They have guest editors sometimes and one of them loves boxes. He cuts the screen into multiples boxes and moves them around to show multiples actions, but it is so distracting that it take you out of the story. I despise editing of this type. This is not to say that multiple “boxes” of images is a bad thing always, it often works well with documentary formats where the images are still, but in this case I find it does nothing to aid and everything to hinder the show.
Two things that I find very helpful to pay attention too when editing are style and pacing. Style: Do I want my editing to be noticeable? Is this the type of piece where editing tricks will benefit it? Things with narration where effects zip on and off the screen are often more interested then without that extra visual push, so what style your editing should take should be your first question. Pacing: how am I going to tell the story? Is it is a linear fashion? Do I want it quick or slow? Will my audience need to breathe here, or should I keep them running full speed? Many of these answers will be aided by the nature of the piece and the cinematography. If any of you saw the movie, “What lies beneath” (which terrified me by the way) you may not have noticed the amazing camera and angles and pacing that helped keep the movie in suspense, I had to focus on those to stay sane and not go screaming from the room, but they are quite good. Long shots to make the view feel that the girl is being watched, slow pans with suspenseful music, these editing choises, paired with camera work, helped that movie stay on the edge of terror with very little action. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the last Bourne movie, “The Bourne Ultimatum.” This movie had such fast paced action and editing that the camera was never still. It gave the viewer a sense of fear and presence because we couldn’t always see the whole of what we were looking at. This worked very well for an action movie, although at some points it actually almost hurt to watch because your eyes had nowhere to rest. In an interview Matt Damon said that he thought there was no shot in the first half of the movie that was longer then 10 seconds or not moving.
Now we aren’t shooting horror films or action movies, but the same concepts can be applied to our work, and since editing is one of my favorite things, (obviously, since I’ve been ranting about it,) I thought that I would add this to what makes a good film.