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Film Language: Editing
Most films use a system of editing known as continuity editing. It’s sole aim is
to get the story moving along and get the audience completely immersed in the
plot and characters.
In drama sequences, the purpose of editing is often:
• Identification (with characters)
• Conflict
• Intensification
The function of this system is to make the drama as fluid as possible, so that the
audience are not aware of the construction process therefore, you need to be
especially aware to spot the techniques of editing employed during a textual
analysis. Remember also that sometimes sound is used to ‘bridge’ the cut and
make it less noticeable on screen.
The process of editing is more concerned with the ‘creation’ of meaning rather
than the taking away of material.
Editing often works through the juxtaposition of different shots to create
meaning.
Editing Pace;
This is the speed and tempo of the cuts – slow can suggest emotion and fast can
suggest tension, action or uncontrollable events.
This is the first most obvious thing to look for as it gives an insight into the tempo
and feel of the sequence.
There are a huge number of editing techniques which filmmakers can employ.
The most common of these is the cut. The cut is a sudden change of shot from
one viewpoint or location to another. Always ask yourself why a cut has occurred
– there is always a reason.
Match on action
Is where the editor cuts from one shot to another view that matches the first
shot's action, cutting on action gives the impression of continuous time when
watching the edited film. By having a subject begin an action in one shot and
carry it through to completion in the next, the editor creates a visual bridge, which
distracts the viewer from noticing the cut or noticing any slight continuity error
between the two shots.
Jump cut
An abrupt switch from one scene to another, used to make a dramatic point.
Cross-cut
A cut from one narrative or line of action to another. Mostly used in films to
establish action occurring at the same time in two different locations.
Cutaway
A ‘bridging’ shot between two shots of the same subject, often used to soften
uncomfortable jumps in time or space.
Reaction shot
Any shot in which a participant reacts to events/action. Often used to guide the
audience’s reaction to a scene.
Matched cut/graphic cut is a cut between either two different objects, two
different spaces, or two different compositions in which an object in the two shots
graphically match, often helping to establish strong relationship between two
scenes.
The 180°Rule
The 180° rule is a filming guideline that participants in a scene should have the
same left-right relationship to each other, with filming only taking place within the
180° angle in which this is maintained in a conversation, for example.
Other forms of transition are also possible:
Fade
A transition to or from a blank screen (normally black).
Dissolve
A slow transition as one image merges into another.
Both are used to suggest differences in time or place. A dissolve might also
suggest a strong connection between the two scenes involved.
Wipe
An optical effect in which one shot ‘wipes’ another off the screen for dramatic
effect.
Superimposition
Two or more images placed directly on top of one another.
Split screen
Division of screen in order to show two or more lines of action simultaneously –
this can be referred to as parallel action.
Effects are also added as part of the editing process – eg; slow motion or fast
motion.
Slow-motion – The action literally slows down with the text – this connotes
seriousness or a past event. Helps to prolong tension, add style, or dramatic
effect to the film.
Montage – A series of shots that are connected together to reinforce/create
meaning – intensifies and controls the emotion through collection.
Long take – This is a shot that does not cut away but ‘lingers’ on one piece of
the action. It is the equivalent of staring – connotes intensity.

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Technical Area 4 - Editing

  • 1. Film Language: Editing Most films use a system of editing known as continuity editing. It’s sole aim is to get the story moving along and get the audience completely immersed in the plot and characters. In drama sequences, the purpose of editing is often: • Identification (with characters) • Conflict • Intensification The function of this system is to make the drama as fluid as possible, so that the audience are not aware of the construction process therefore, you need to be especially aware to spot the techniques of editing employed during a textual analysis. Remember also that sometimes sound is used to ‘bridge’ the cut and make it less noticeable on screen. The process of editing is more concerned with the ‘creation’ of meaning rather than the taking away of material. Editing often works through the juxtaposition of different shots to create meaning. Editing Pace; This is the speed and tempo of the cuts – slow can suggest emotion and fast can suggest tension, action or uncontrollable events. This is the first most obvious thing to look for as it gives an insight into the tempo and feel of the sequence. There are a huge number of editing techniques which filmmakers can employ. The most common of these is the cut. The cut is a sudden change of shot from one viewpoint or location to another. Always ask yourself why a cut has occurred – there is always a reason. Match on action Is where the editor cuts from one shot to another view that matches the first shot's action, cutting on action gives the impression of continuous time when watching the edited film. By having a subject begin an action in one shot and carry it through to completion in the next, the editor creates a visual bridge, which distracts the viewer from noticing the cut or noticing any slight continuity error between the two shots. Jump cut An abrupt switch from one scene to another, used to make a dramatic point.
  • 2. Cross-cut A cut from one narrative or line of action to another. Mostly used in films to establish action occurring at the same time in two different locations. Cutaway A ‘bridging’ shot between two shots of the same subject, often used to soften uncomfortable jumps in time or space. Reaction shot Any shot in which a participant reacts to events/action. Often used to guide the audience’s reaction to a scene. Matched cut/graphic cut is a cut between either two different objects, two different spaces, or two different compositions in which an object in the two shots graphically match, often helping to establish strong relationship between two scenes. The 180°Rule The 180° rule is a filming guideline that participants in a scene should have the same left-right relationship to each other, with filming only taking place within the 180° angle in which this is maintained in a conversation, for example.
  • 3. Other forms of transition are also possible: Fade A transition to or from a blank screen (normally black). Dissolve A slow transition as one image merges into another. Both are used to suggest differences in time or place. A dissolve might also suggest a strong connection between the two scenes involved. Wipe An optical effect in which one shot ‘wipes’ another off the screen for dramatic effect. Superimposition Two or more images placed directly on top of one another. Split screen Division of screen in order to show two or more lines of action simultaneously – this can be referred to as parallel action. Effects are also added as part of the editing process – eg; slow motion or fast motion. Slow-motion – The action literally slows down with the text – this connotes seriousness or a past event. Helps to prolong tension, add style, or dramatic effect to the film. Montage – A series of shots that are connected together to reinforce/create meaning – intensifies and controls the emotion through collection. Long take – This is a shot that does not cut away but ‘lingers’ on one piece of the action. It is the equivalent of staring – connotes intensity.