Session 10 the art of film editing: Film Appreciation Course
The Art of
Bong S. Eliab
Hum 3: Film Appreciation
Mass Communication Department
French George Melies and American
Edwin S. Porter - recorded things as they
happened in front of the camera
Edwin S. Porter - inserted a footage within
a continuous shot
David W. Griffith - only part of action
must be shown
Edwin S. Porter
Born in Connellsville, PA.
Worked as a film projectionist
in the 1890s before becoming a
director and cameraman for the
Company in Orange, New
Made groundbreaking use of
cross cutting in The Great
Train Robbery (1903)
helped lay the groundwork for
Méliès' films from
1905 through 1912
were well behind the
curve of the
of filmmakers like
Edwin S. Porter and
David W. Griffith.
Sergei Eisenstein -
discovered that if two
unrelated images are
placed next to each other
in a film, a third
Eisentein and Pudovkin
developed the principle
Process of creative editing whereby images
derive their meaning from juxtaposition
with other images.
Functions of montage:
To compress time
To expand time
Expansion of Time
“Odessa Steps” in Battleship Potemkim
The running time of film is longer than
normal/ actual time -- heightening the
Principle: devote more film time to more
dramatically important events and less to
What is Film Editing
The process of selecting, arranging, and
juxtaposing of materials in order to bring
forth or reveal a subject or event in the most
dramatic manner or effective way.
Major Concern of Film Editor:
Rhythm and pace
Visual and aural relationships
General Stylistic Approaches
Continuity Editing: portrays action of a
story or sequence in a realistic manner --
the emphasis is on the creation of smooth
continuous flow of events.
Dynamic Editing (Parallel): disregards
realistic spatial relationships in order to
have more focus on the drama of the action.
A two-hour film may cover either a lifetime, or
only ten minutes, or its time coincides with real
The editor can accelerate or retard time according
to the desired end. He has the total control of
The use of inter-cuts and detail shots
The use of optical effects, like transitional devices to
link scenes and sequences
Fade in/fade out
Flips and Wipes
Dramatic Time: is structured by the demands of
plot, characterization, theme and other features of
Physical Time: attempts to show all the phases of
an action or event.
Affective Time: events are arranged so as to have
certain effects upon the audience’s affective sense
Rhythm and Pace
Internal Rhythm: the inherent quality of
movement that depends on the motion
within the shot, the rhythm of the cutting of
shots, and rhythm of the sequence itself.
External Rhythm: depends largely on the
length of time a shot or scene remains on
Image to Image: every scene is affected by
the scene that precedes or follows it.
Image to Sound: every sound affects the
audience reaction to what is seen. Every
image conditions the audience’s response to
what is heard.
Editing: “psychological guidance” of the
Aim at the impression of the audience
Contrast: compare contrasting images, one
strengthening the other; cutting between
two different scenarios to highlight the
contrast between them.
As an example, Pudovkin suggests moving
from scenes of poverty to someone really
rich to make the difference more apparent.
Parallelism: resembling contrast, two
thematically unconnected incidents develop
in parallel; connect two seemingly unrelated
scenes by cutting between them and
focusing on parallel features
Example: if you were shooting a
documentary about fish stocks in the
Atlantic, you could cut from a trawler being
tossed about in the ocean to a family
chomping down on some fish’n'chips – in
both scenes drawing our attention to the
fish: the object that connects them. It
creates an association in the viewers’ mind.
Again, more intercutting,
you move from your main
scene to something which
creates a symbolic
connection for the
Pudovkin (living in Soviet Russia) suggested
cutting between shots of striking workers being
shot by Tsarist police and scenes of cows being
slaughtered: in the audience’s mind, they
associate the slaughter of the cattle with the
slaughter of the workers.
Simultaneity: simultaneous rapid
development of two actions, in which the
outcome of one depends on the outcome of
This is used lots in Hollywood today:
cutting between two simultaneous events as
a way of driving up the suspense. If you’re
making a film about a politician on election
night, you might cut between shots of the
vote being counted to shots of your main
subject preparing to hear the result. This
extending of time builds anticipation.
Leit-motif: Re-iteration of the theme
through the use of repeated shots, usually
close up (CU) shots or POV shots
This ‘reiteration of theme’ involves repeating a
shot or sequence at key moments as a sort of code.
Think how Spielberg uses a ‘point of view’ shot in
Jaws showing the shark looking up at swimmers.
The first time he does it creates a visual code for
“the shark’s about to attack”. Every time we see
that underwater POV we know an attack is
imminent. He has allowed us to participate in the
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