Principles of Editing


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These slides accompany a lecture in the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary.

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  • Principles of Editing

    1. 1. Principles of Editing Continuity and Discontinuity Editing; Temporal and Spatial Classical Editing, Montage, Juxtaposition. University of Calgary Drama 571
    2. 2. Editing Styles styles REALISM CLASSICISM 1. Sequence Shot (Long Take) 3. Classical Cutting 2. Cutting to Continuity FORMALISM 2a. Discontinuity Editing 5. Abstract Cutting 4. Thematic Montage Lola Rennt Manufactured Landscapes Zero Dark Thirty The Birth of a Nation Un Chien Andalou Battleship Potemkin
    3. 3. Editing is an art (of rejection). • The basic building block of editing is the “shot”(clip) and the fundamental tool is the “cut” (blade). • Editing, the basic creative force of film, is the process by which the editor combines and coordinates individual shots into a cinematic whole. • “Art of rejection.” Not uncommon in Hollywood for ratio of unused to used footage to be as high as 20 to 1. Apocalypse Now was 100 to 1.
    4. 4. Realism The Long Take The Sequence Shot
    5. 5. 1. The Long Take (The Sequence Shot) Sequence Shots contain no editing. Early cinema relied entirely on “long-take” shot. “Long Take” is not the same as “long shot.” A “take” is one run of the camera that records a single shot. Usually filmmakers use the long take selectively. One scene will rely heavily on editing, another will be a long take. This permits the director to associate certain aspects of narrative form with different stylistic options (usually doco). Example: Manufactured Landscapes
    6. 6. Manufactured Landscapes (Jennifer Baichwal, 2006) 90 minutes Style: Realism A documentary about Edward Burtynsky Burtynsky is internationally acclaimed for his large-scale photographs of nature transformed by industry. Manufactured Landscapes follows Burtynsky to China, as he captures the effects of the country’s massive industrial revolution. This film leads us to meditate on human endeavour and its impact on the planet.
    7. 7. Classicism Continuity Editing Classical Editing Discontinuity Editing
    8. 8. 2. Continuity Editing Temporal Continuity Ellipses or “Cutting to Continuity” tries to preserve the fluidity of an event without literally showing all of it. Cause and effect relationships are clearly set forth. For example, a 45-minute action might take ten seconds of screen time yet nothing essential is left out. “Unobtrusive condensation.” Spatial Continuity The 180 Degree Rule
    9. 9. Toward Interactivity … 2a. Dis-Continuity Editing Temporal and Spatial Discontinuity Storyline may weave several complex subplots Film sequencing may jump around in time. Flashbacks, flash forwards. (Eg. Cloud Atlas) Spatial discontinuity suggests creative ways of letting go of the 180 degree system. Opens up action for creative uses as interactive cinema or videogame narrative.
    10. 10. Lola Rennt (Tom Tykwer, 1998) Tykwer also directed and produced Cloud Atlas (2012) Style: Fiction (Classical) Toward Formalism Plot Outline: Lola runs. To save her boyfriend's life. Significant as being videogame-like • In character building scenes • Interactive “choose your own ending” scripting • Incorporation of animation • “Discontinuity editing,” breaking 180 degree rule.
    11. 11. Toward Interactivity … Cloud Atlas Plots and Subplots
    12. 12. Classical Editing -- DW Griffiths Classical editing involves editing for dramatic intensity and emotional emphasis rather than purely physical reasons. Birth of a Nation (2’48”) by carefully selecting and juxtaposing long, medium, and close shots, Griffiths constantly shifted the spectator’s point of view -- consolidating, connecting, contrasting, paralleling and so on. The space and time continuum is radically altered “Thematic montage” that stress the association of ideas. Also perfected the conventions of the chase making use of parallel editing-- alternation of shots of one scene with a different location.
    13. 13. Birth of a Nation (D.W. Griffiths, 1915) Style: Classical (Hollywood Fiction) AKA In the Clutches of the Ku Klux Klan Heavily racist overtones but despite that, Birth of A Nation is one of the most influential films of all time. It features the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, introduced as the picture's would-be heroes. The famous classical editing depicts Griffith integrating a love story in the midst of a race war Thrilling and disturbing, at the same time. Genre: Drama / War (more) From imdb
    14. 14. Formalism (Subjective/Abstract) Montage Juxtaposition
    15. 15. Editing Styles Montage “to assemble” • Soviet formalist filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein was interested in exploring general principles that could be applied to a variety of apparently different forms of creative activity. • He believed the function of artists is to capture a dynamic collision of opposites -- to incorporate dialectical conflicts not only in the subject matter of art but its techniques and forms. • He felt cinema was most comprehensive of the arts — incorporates visual conflicts of painting and photography, the kinetic conflicts of dance, the tonal conflicts of music, the verbal conflicts of language, and character and action conflicts of fiction and drama. • He placed special emphasis on the art of editing. Battleship Potemkin was conceived as an editing construction and it is most famous for “The Odessa Steps” scene.
    16. 16. Battleship Potemkin (Sergei Eisenstein, 1925) Style: Classical Fiction, toward formalism
    17. 17. Un chien andalou (Luis Bunuel/Salvador Dali, 1929) Style: Avant Garde Formalism/Surrealism (Abstract Cutting) Plot Outline: Un Chien Andalou consists of seventeen minutes of abstract, surreal images and is a startling example that almost any interpretation can be drawn from the juxtaposed image montage. Every scene is random and unconcerned with any other, but there are items which are present throughout the film. In some ways the repeated glimpses of these things in situations where they shouldn't be adds to the confused feel, enhanced by the off-putting and nonsensical time-markers deployed. From imdb