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Different Editing Techniques

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years ago

"I love editing. I think I like it more than any other phase of filmmaking. If I wanted to be frivolous, I might say that everything that precedes editing is merely a way of producing film to edit."

       --Stanley Kubrick

 

With the advent of film, editing was a a foreign concept. Short movies, or French Actualities, were made with one single shot with no camera movement. The next big step was Georges Melies' Le Voyage dans la Lune. In this science fiction film, editing was used as a special effect. In one scene, some astronauts are on the moon fighting 'moon people'. To defeat them, they hit them and they explode into a cloud of smoke. This technique was used by stopping the film right as  the actor hit the moon man, and then start shooting again with a cloud of smoke. While it seems elementary, it was a huge techical advance in filmmaking due to editing. But still, there was no editing within a scene, only cuts to different scenes.

 

The first editing within a scene was used in Edwin S. Porter's The Great Train Robbery. A total of fourteen shots were used, and three were used in the same scene.

 

We get the first sense of dramatic tension due to editing with a rescue scene that cuts back and forth between the captives and rescuers. The editing gets progressively more intense and agressive until they finally meet and the rescuers save the day. As with Pulp Fiction or Crash, without editing, no tension occurs and people are stuck watching one long boring scene after another. To get a real grasp of the use of editing, the average American film in the 20's had around 600 shots while Birth of a Nation had more than 1300. It's pretty awesome how we're almost oblivious to film editing until we're told to look at it. This Continuity Editing is paramount in the film industry, because a choppy film will constantly remind a viewer that he is watching a movie, and wont have a chance to really enjoy it. I allude back to the image of a jigsaw puzzle, a collection of pieces with no apparent connection until it is edited and made into one coherent, beautiful picture. The pieces must fit perfectly together or else something, and we may not be able to point out exactly what it is, is not right.

 

More examples can be viewed at http://www.internetcampus.com/tvp051.htm

 

That (and I apologize for such a long winded preface) is why I am presenting the 'invention' of the Kuleshov Effect, or dialetic editing used to evoke feelings by the juxtaposition of two or more conflicting images. It's this behind-the-scenes job that gives the story it's paralleled storylines. Without an editor, a movie is just a collection of shots with no connection. Ask yourself, would Pulp Fiction be the same movie if it were all shot one story at a time? It wouldn't have the same effect that it does with the intertwined stories that all come together at the end. In order to understand the basis for such wonderful storytelling one must start at the birth of this technique, which is rooted within the rise of Russian Cinema. The invention that is used in the most complex editing we see today is the invention I've decided to showcase. It is a form of editing created by Lev Kuleshov, aptly named the The Kuleshov Effect.

 

 

 

Some reference guides to various editing practices and histories

http://www.kenstone.net/fcp_homepage/murch_speech_salgado.html

 

http://www.videoforums.co.uk/guide-video-editing-tips-14.htm

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_editing

 

http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/ent/A0859784.html

 

 

 

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