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  • Writer's pictureDorsa Sajedi

Editing Class 2: Rhythm and Tempo

Recommended books to look at:
Art of the Cut: Conversations with Film and TV Editors by Steve Hullfish
Kelley Dixon on creating intimacy via profile shots.
In the Blink of an Eye by Walter Murch (p.67-8)
Film Editing: Rhythm and Tempo of Dialogue by Edward Dmytryk

Technical Notes
  • Add markers to F3 buttons: use tool to point out reactions (inc. micro reactions/expressions on the timeline)

  • Adding markers to the timecode will lock onto it

  • Adding it to the video layer will lock onto that layer instead

  • If you select IN and OUT points before marking, you will mark a selection instead

  • To access the marker list, see tools tab

  • When adding shortcuts, you can select 'menu to button reassignment' to assign a shortcut to a function i.e. adding a shortcut to a menu function

  • Tips for adding timecode: for feedback viewings, remove the black box so it's not as distracting but its still there for people to give you timecode specific feedback -- also include the shot designation as well as the timecode

REMEMBER: Never take notes straight away, always watch + absorb first!

A difficult piece of advice to take on during this class was to consider an edit as a visual essay (this is because I'm a perfectionist and I also hate essays)... but its true, and a good point. Getting a rough-rough cut as soon as possible should be the aim, as it ensures that the story and narrative works. You should never be aiming to get a PERFECT-PERFECT cut straight away. You'd be taking on too many tasks at once, and because of this you may miss out on key reactions and parts of the footage resulting in an edit that isn't terrible but its not as good as it could have been. To achieve a rough-rough cut, commit to making 'broad stroke cuts' first. Watch it a few times to see if you agree with yourself on where the cut should be. Identify the key moments, then make the changes.

Remember not to take out any large segments out of the edit without the director's knowledge -- you can get away with doing different cuts where you then ask the director at the end of the viewing whether they noticed that bit of footage was missing or not, but never make such a big decision without their approval. You're aloud to have the creative freedom to experiment and see what works the best, but not to make drastic changes on your own accord.

Communicating a character's 'intentions'

Remember to focus on initial emotional reaction with the character. Ask yourself, "where would i be looking if I was an invisible observer?"

How do we create tension?

Through a rhythmic structure -- imitating a heartbeat getting faster.

Providing you the opportunity as editor to shape the 'time' of the edit. Time can feel like it is going by quickly or slowly through how you structure this rhythm. This can also influence and determine a power dynamic between characters. For example, how much more screen time one character gets over the other in a shot-reverse-shot scenario -- showing who is in CONTROL.

Consider the internal vs external rhythm of a shot

Internal: slowness or quickness of time (that internal pacing/rhythm)*

External: duration of shot within scene

(*) This relates to the editor's ability to artificially construct how time progresses in the film. The expansion of time, or vice versa.

Cutting into a close-up: when is the right time to do this?

Every cut and shot-change must mean something. In a shot-reverse-shot situation, you would cut into a close up at the 'key points' of dialogue. This would achieve an intense and/or intimate feeling to the edit's atmosphere.

How do I 'remove' myself to see if the edit works after watching it so many times over?
  • View it on another screen in a different environment

  • Remember to take LONG breaks every once in a while

  • After perfecting the rough cut, bring people (related to the production) in to screen: ask them when they were bored, excited -- was there a moment where they were confused?

  • BUT, remember not to screen too early as this can be distracting!

  • Don't do TOO MANY multiple versions of the same/a similar change

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