The key issues an editor faces when moving between editing the different types of production I will need to understand the key issues of editing music video, documentary and drama, learning the skills and techniques each edit type requires. By learning what each type of edit needs individually I will be able to compare the different types of editing to find out the key differences in them. These differences will help me to find what the key issues an editor faces are, when moving between editing different types of production.
I will also need to look at the relationship the editor has with their director in each, to find out how much free creativity an editor has over the production. Introduction The modern editor, especially in the small New Zealand film and television industry, I feel must be versatile over multiple modes of editing. This research study looks at the key issues an editor faces when moving between editing the modes of documentary, music video and drama. Looking at the creative boundaries, skill’s, techniques and relationships an editor needs to successfully be able to edit each mode.
To find out what I need for this study I have Interviewed Michael, J Horton editor (Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers , Goodbye Pork Pie . ) I also read various texts including, ‘Editing and post production’ a book of interviews with some of the worlds most elite editors, Walter Murch, Michael Kahn and Anne Coates to name a few. As well as watching the documentary The Cutting Edge: the magic of movie editing (2004) and reading online interviews. To understand the role of an editor across the different modes, I first of all must explain generally what an editor’s role is and why it is an important role of every production.
The editors’ main role starts at the post-production phase. The editor is the one who collects all the pieces of raw footage and captures it onto the editing system. The Editor then goes through all the footage, usually with the director or producer, making notes on the useable footage or shots which the director likes/dislikes. If more footage is needed, depending of the mode of film it will be recognized at this stage and pick ups will be shot. The editor then takes out the unusable shots and arranges the good material in a unique and creative way that tells a particular story in a coherent manor.
Editors are responsible for clarifying the story from all of the footage that the director has shot p3 TFV. Sound and music are added during the edit phase, as are any special effects. The editor must then shorten down all the material while adding a pace and rhythm to the film. “One frame off or two frames added is the difference between a sour note and a sweet note, its the difference between clunky clumsy crap, and orgasmic rhythm” (Apple, 2004) Editing has the ability to draw certain emotions from the audience, helping the audience to forget they are watching a screen but rather feel a part of the experience of the film. An Editor is successful when the audience enjoys the story and forgets about the juxtaposition of the shots. ” pXX TFV History “Film dates from 1895. When the first motion pictures were created, editing did not exist. ” p3 TFV This is because “The first film makers simply photographed what interested or amused them, they held a shot until they got bored or the film ran out. ” (Apple, 2004). Editing did not exist because it could not exist. There was only an interest in showing moving pictures on screen, not telling a story. Because of this there was only one constant shot with no cutting.
The idea of splicing two shots together creating the simple principle of editing came from Edwin S Porter, an employee of Thomas Edison. Porter discovered that you could have “two Shots filmed in different locations, with vastly different original objectives. Could when joined together mean something greater than the sum of the two parts. The juxtaposition could create a new reality greater than that of each individual shot. “p4 TFV In the breakthrough film life of an american fireman (1903) made up of 20 shots, Porter shows this, by intercutting two shots that are not related to each other.
Basically one scene was the firemen rushing to a fire with their horse drawn wagon, and the other scene is the fire miles away. Because these two unrelated scenes were being intercut we could see what the objective of the firemen was and it gave the audience an emotional response to the damsel. Porter had found that one single shot was not a complete film, but the building block upon which a film can be made out of. “Porters contribution to editing was the arrangement of shots to present a narrative continuity. p5 TFV Porter had created the principles of classical editing. Although In the early years continuity, screen direction and dramatic emphasis through editing were not considered. “D,W,Griffith is the acknowledged father of film editing”p5 TFV He invented a lot of techniques which are still being used by the modern editor today. Griffith wanted to enhance the audience’s emotional involvement in his films. “Griffith demonstrated that a scene could be fragmented into long shots, medium shots, and close shots to allow the audience to move gradually into the heart of a scene.
This dramatic orchestration has become the standard editing procedure for scenes. ” p6 TFV The cutaway, flash backs and the tracking shot; parallel editing; and variations of pace p5 TFV are all techniques innovated by Griffith and are still in use today. Griffith used invisible cutting, in which action would always be continuous and fluid and moving, the goal was to mask the cut during a turn or action so the audience wouldn’t notice, (Apple, 2004) to make the audience forget they were watching a film but rather feel a part of the experience. As was the case with the coming of sound in the late 1920s, new innovations had a considerable impact on how films were edited, and the results tended to be conservative initially and innovative later” p110 TFV One man who truly grasped the understanding of the physiology of editing, which Griffith had established was Alfred Hitchcock. “Few Directors have contributed as much to the mythology of the power of editing as has Alfred Hitchcock… Hitchcock used his films to synthesize the theoretical ideas of others and to deepen the repertoire by showcasing the possibilities of editing. p97 TFV Hitchcock took the techniques of Griffith and refined them throughout his films, experimenting with parallel action in Strangers on a train(1951); the sound cut and cutaway in The 39 steps(1935); dramatic time and space and using the intensity of the close up to create suspense in Psycho(1960) ;the extreme long shot to generate anticipation in Foreign Correspondent (1940) the chase sequence in North by Northwest (1959); and dream states in Vertigo (1958). TFV 98-105. The first film cutters were ‘hired hands’ as apposed to creative partners in the process (Apple, 2004).
Although today the editor has the most objective eye in the whole creative environment. (Apple, 2004)It is the editor who creatively shapes the shot footage into the ideas of the director. The History of editing equipment is just as relevant. Originally cuts were made with a splicer and selotape in a linear fashion. This means the editor had to edit the first shot, then the second, then the third and so on. There was no way to change or rearrange shots in the middle of a section of film unless the new sequence matched to the exact frame.
Editing machines such as the ‘moviola’, ‘K. E. M. ’ or ‘Steenbeck’ were introduced. However with the changes in the technology from analog to digital driven, editing has become non-linear. p408 TFV This means the editor has more freedom as he is not working strictly down a line of shots, the editor can now work on any shot at any time, without affecting the others. The first example of a computer non-linear system was introduced by avid in 1988. This is an example of convergence where two technologies come together to accomplish a new task, or an old task in a new way.
Some people are against the shift as they feel things have been lost, the cuts made on a non-linear system are not as critical as linear because they are not straight onto the film, because of this editors may become frivolous in cutting because the thought process behind each cut happens faster. When to ‘cut’? The ‘cut’ is the editors most used tool across all modes of editing, it can be used for a variety of reasons. “Film is cut for practical reasons and film is cut because cutting – that sudden disruption of reality – can be an effective tool in tself. ” P16 BOE It can be used to piece together shots, quicken or slow pace and rhythm, give the audience an emotional response to something, invite the audience to see something or cut away before the audience gets see it. But how does an editor know when the time is right to make a cut? “Years ago I heard a director quoted as saying you should only cut when necessary, which at the time I thought was silly. Now I have begun to see the wisdom of that remark and the sly joke embedded in it. Who’s to say when a cut is necessary? Paul Hirsch p77 EPP Hirsch believes it is down to the individual editor to make a personal call on what is ‘necessary’ based on his/her own experiences. For this reason there is no one-way to decide when to cut. Walter Murch, editor of ‘Cold Mountain’, ‘The Godfather’ has a system he has come up with to help editors decide when to make the best cut they can. When determining what affect a cut will have on the piece or if a cut is necessary, Murch has come up with the cutting rule of 6: 1) Emotion51% 2) Story23% 3) Rhythm10% ) Eye trace7% 5) Two dimensional plane of screen5% 6) Three dimensional space of action4% BOE 68 Walter Murch’s Ideal cut is one that satisfies all the following six criteria at once. Although not all are as important and if something must be lost in a cut, loose from the lowest percentage up. Story and emotion are the last to take out. P 18 BOE. Once decided upon that a cut is needed, the editor must decide exactly what frame to cut on. To do this Murch has another guideline. 1) Identifying a series of potential cut points. ) Determining what affect each cut point will have. 3) Choosing which of those effects is the correct one for the film. If you follow all Murch’s steps for making a cut, your cut is likely to be beneficial to the film. Drama The drama edit is a unique brand of editing in itself. The edit process of drama is slightly different to other modes. Often the editor begins during the shooting of the production, as apposed to beginning the edit at the end of shooting. This gives the editor ‘first dig’ at it, because the director is still working.
This ‘first dig’ at the edit offers the editor freedom of creativity to put together the shots he has to work with, the editor should already have some understanding of what the director wants. If there is a cutting problem it can be left until finish, if a problem comes up, lighting, focus or art department for example and looks like it needs to be re-cut then the editor can go straight on and re-cut if its minor. However, if there is definitely an important shot, which is unusable or missing, it goes on the pick-ups list. Into a ‘luxury list’ and a ‘must haves’ list.
These might get shot at the end of the day. This is good for the production, because if a pick up shot was needed after shoot it will be costly to bring everyone back. (personal communication) A drama editor can use this to get the exact shots he needs, this is an opportunity which documentary rarely gets. A key issue the drama editor needs to be aware of is to have an understanding of how performers go about it, there is tradecraft involved in performance; you don’t want to expose that. “The editor is totally in control over the performance of an actor in the editing room. “- Peter Honess.
MME The editor should pick up on the bad takes of a performer. “I don’t like using takes where people are looking at their mark. It breaks me out of the reality they are trying to create. ” (Personal communication) Therefore it will break the audience out of the reality of the film. In drama one of an editor’s skills is to elicit information from the footage. A good editor can elucidate something from the material, which may well be contained within the scene already, there will be what’s on the surface and there’s the unseen. The questions drama editors should ask themselves at this point are. What do you want the scene to convey? – How do you extend the narrative? – And how do we say the unsaid? Sometimes it’s with music or it can be with a cut. If you can isolate what the picture is trying to say then you can break it down scene-by-scene, work out what the scene is trying to say as a part of the whole drama. Try to deconstruct the idea into its components then look at how each scene attempts to get there. (Personal communication) Techniques an editor has to unfold an idea are any mixture of sound and visuals that captures the insight of the drama. 305TFV The editor when the time is right for one, needs to use a technique to enhance the scenes potential. “Sometimes you have to energize a scene, shrinking time or pacing shots. Pacing is very important factor in how you put it together. ” Dede Allen EPP A good example of how this can be done and the techniques used is how editor Anne Coates “In Out of Sight (1998) would freeze frame every so often… The freeze frames were used to introduce the characters and to heighten little moments, for example during the lovemaking.
We also use jump cuts on this film… basically involved cutting bits out of the middle of shots and making cuts that were not smooth, such cuts can be great. But you must be careful how much you use them, and you must keep the rhythm straight, it is the same with the freeze frame you must freeze at exactly the right moment. ” p63 Anne Coates EPP. The editor must be careful to know when enough is enough for each scene. “Past a certain point, The more effort you put into wealth of detail, the more you encourage the audience to become spectators rather than participants. p 15 BOE An editor can disrupt a scene by over editing. “It’s not my instinct to use the techniques in the toolbox, if the material is there I cut it and I am careful of the actors. I am trying most of the time to make their performances seamless that’s enough as a rule. If you can use a technique that works or is seamless then you can get away with it. As long as the technique you use serves the idea, or works for the narrative. ” (Personal communication) Editing is not always what you can do to the footage, but also what not to do. Frequently, it takes more work and more discernment to decide where not to cut – don’t feel you have to cut just because your being paid to… if the editor doesn’t have the confidence to let people themselves occasionally choose what they want to look at, or leave things to their imagination, then he’s pressing a goal (complete control) that in the end is self defeating. ” p16 BOE An editor should be able to see what the footage itself needs, then determine what needs to be done to it. “My editing process is an intuitive process, its what feels truthful, its what feels strong and its what works. “- Craig Mckay. MME Documentary
The documentary edit is a type of editing that uses similar conventions as drama and music video but in a different way. “The documentary sequence has very different criteria for success than those of the dramatic sequence. Both must follow certain rules of editing to communicate with the audience, but beyond simple continuity the differences far outweigh the similarities. p304 TFV This is because the intention of a documentary is different from that of drama and music video, In documentary your trying to put a point of view across, expose something or you are trying to explain something, so that becomes the paramount thing. the commercial film has more often been associated primarily with entertainment. The documentary film on the other hand, has always been associated with the communication of ideas first and with entertainment values a distant second. “P53 TFV While entertainment must be one of documentaries goals to prevent boredom amongst the audience, its main goal is to educate or provoke thought. As Karel Reisz suggested, “a working distinction between documentary and story films is concerned with the development of a plot; the documentary is concerned with the exposition of a theme.
It is out of this fundamental difference of aims that the different production methods arise. ” p304 TFV the documentary editors role is a more creative one. Because there is no plot the documentary must be shaped in the edit process. “The documentary editor frequently functions as the primary shaper of the story. ” p162 CBC The documentary editor can cut the footage into component scenes then push them around until they make some sense. Chronologically or emotionally, you tend to be much freer making documentary than a scripted drama. They tend to be documented by nature rather than scripted. (Personal Communication)
In documentary there is the question of ethics. This is another key difference between the editing of documentary compared with the editing of drama or music video. Ethics comes down to the moral principles of the documentary. Documentary editors can show exactly what they captured in the correct context it was shot to get across the message of what happened. However this is not the case in all documentaries. “The editing of documentary footage often leads to a distortion of the event. Filmmaker’s editorial purpose often supersedes the raw material from Leni Riefenstahl in Triumph of will (1935) to Michael Moore in Roger and Me (1989).
Filmmakers have edited documentaries to present their particular vision. For them, the ethical issue is superseded by the need to present a particular point of view. ” p305 TFV The question of ethics comes down to the editor and director, and what they want the audience to know or believe. The editor can change the meaning shots by whatever technique is necessary. “The editor has many options for creating a new interpretation of reality. The edit style of Leni Riefenstahl in Olympia (1938) is an excellent example. Sound offers many options, as do the juxtaposition of sequences and the use of different types of shots.
Close ups can be used effectively, and pace can be used to create a fresh interpretation. ” p320 TFV The editor of a documentary has a range of editing techniques to use. The relationship between the editor and the director can be a lot more involved in documentary. They need to communicate more on where they want the documentary to go, because there is no script, especially at the beginning of the edit working out the narrative. “The relationship on a documentary is you talk more, because it isn’t automatic what scene goes where. (Personal Communication)
Music Video Through my research I have found a number of reasons editing music video is vastly different from the other modes of editing. Music videos in New Zealand typically have the least amount of funding of all the modes. Due to this reason alone, you can see a huge gap between the editing of music videos and the other modes. Due to the lack of funding people cannot not make music videos as their primary source of income, “nobody makes a quid, so your doing it for other reasons, performers to be famous, the filmmakers want something on there reel.
The editors I imagine want something a bit zippy on their reel. That’s all very well as long as you enjoy them. ” (Personal Communication) Horton feels strongly that you should only edit what you like or enjoy. “If you don’t like the track then don’t do it. They can be enormous fun to cut if you enjoy them. But they’re as good as the music and as good as how they were shot. Personally I tend to cut documentaries and drama largely because I’m not in love with the music. I think if you don’t love something, then you shouldn’t do it. Because there are other editors around who do love it. (Personal Communication) Music Video is a mode of editing which does not suite every editor. A versatile editor I think should have the ability to edit music video. Although, due to the poor funding it is not necessity for an editor to do, so it is up to the individual editor if they want to edit music video. Audiences in the modern day are used to fast pace editing with quicker cutting. This is largely to do with influence of the music video. “Music videos are mostly responsible for changes in the style of cutting. People can assimilate knowledge a lot quicker.
Today you can see a whole commercial that tells a whole story in a minute. Audiences can now cope with that which they probably could not have done 30 years ago. Music videos have lead to a very quick cutting and it can work wonderfully. (Personal Communication) This rapid fire editing is a very different style to the likes of documentary and drama. The pace and rhythm is an extremely important technique of editing a music video, because you want the video to represent to the music. “The way I see good [music video] editing is that you just enhance and bring out what the artist or band is giving ou” p166 Scott Richter CBC the music videos editing should accompany the song. Cutting on the beat is an effective technique the editor has to move the video along with the song. “A music video is sort of ‘dump truck editing’ where you tip everything into the editors door and go away for a while. That’s just because there is no money, shoot the hell out of it and see what you can get on the avid. ” (Personal Communication) The level of free creativity an editor has in Music Video can vary but usually if the director trusts the editor he will leave it up to the editor to cut the shots together.
The techniques with modern software like Avid or Final Cut are much easier to cut, “We put 16 shots up synchronized and edited it down onto a 17th track. It makes it enormously easy,”(Personal Communication) if there’s a shot you don’t like you have another to cover it, this way of editing is only one way to edit a music video, but it shows the difference in style of editing this mode can have compared to the others. Conclusion The modes of editing I have researched may use some of the same editing techniques, such as the ‘cut’, and rhythm. But how and why each are used in each edit is extremely different.
Therefore an editor must be aware of the key issues for each mode, in order to edit them successfully. The key issues of editing drama are. The ability to use pick-up shots to fill gaps ensuring the editor gets exactly what is needed for a particular sequence. The following of a script in which dictates to the editor, what sequences go where. The editor must be more aware of the performances the actors are giving to ensure nothing is given-away to the audience. The key issues a documentary editor must be aware of are. The different intensions a documentary has compared to the goals of the other modes.
The documentary does not have a set structure; it is the job of the editor to discover the path of the documentary. The ethics of an editor is an issue in documentary that the editor of the other modes does not face. Music video is a smaller scale production to both the other modes, due to the low funding they get. This in itself is an issue for the editor of music videos because they are doing it more likely for personal reasons than business reasons. The music video editor can often be given full creative reign over the footage, therefore must be able to cope with the ideas in a song to enhance it.
Music videos are also typically cut faster, the editor must acknowledge this when editing. The key issues for each mode are extremely different but to be a successful versatile editor I believe you must know them all. Through my research I have found the relationship an editor has with the director and key issues an editor faces when moving between editing the modes of drama, documentary and music video. Editors in New Zealand I feel need to be versatile enough to edit all across different modes of production to be able to make ends meat, because of the small industry we have.
I will use the skills and techniques I have learned from my research along with the key issues of drama, documentary and music video to successfully edit each. References: * W, Apple. (Director). (2004). The Cutting Edge: the magic of movie editing. [Documentary]. United States: Warner Bros Entertainment. * Personal Communication. Horton, Michael. * Chandler, G. (2004) Cut By Cut: Editing your film or video. 11288 Ventura Boulevard, Suite #62, Studio City: Michael Wiese Productions. * Rabiger, M. (1992). Directing the documentary. (second edition). 0 montvale Avenue, Stoneham: Butterwoth – Heinemann. * Dancyger, K. (2007). The technique of film and video editing: history,theory and practise. (Forth edition). 30 Corperate Drive, suite #400, Burlington: Elsevier. * Murch, M. (2001). In the blink of an eye. (second edition) 1181 Angele Drive, Beverly Hills: Silman – James Press. * Mcgrath, D. (2001). Editing and post production screen craft. CH-1299 Crans-Pres-Celigny. Switzerland: Roto Vision * Mollison, M. (2003). Producing Videos: a complete guide. (second edition). , 83 Alexander Street, Crows Nest, NSW: Ligare Pty Ltd.