The Magic of Editing

I keep telling my editors, if you win an award for editing, I won’t work with you anymore. Your editing shows. –Louis Malle

Osgood and Hinshaw begin one of the first sections of The Aesthetics of Editing with this quote, and it has totally reshaped the way I view this process. Most types of art seem to desire attention, artists create so that someone will notice. However, editing is completely different. Editing is a process that should enhance the work without making new work or distracting from what is already there.

Editing is a process that holds so much potential. Obviously, it can make or break a video; it all depends on how it is used. I have never thought about how much effect editing can have on the film and/or the viewer, but Osgood and Hinshaw call this the “psychology of editing.” By changing things like time, shot order, image and sound, and rhythm, the editor can completely change the story of the message of the film. That’s a lot of pressure.

Continuity is another concept that the editor must think about in order to make the video seem fluid and connected. There is physical continuity, such as the actors wearing the same clothes from shot to shot, but there is also technical continuity, which requires the lights and audio levels and image quality to stay relatively similar throughout. Editors rely on certain conventions that make sure they achieve a continuous feel with their edits.

Another affective tool used by editors is the montage. This is simply just a grouping of unrelated images to produce a new meaning. These are often used in the beginning of a news broadcast or TV program, for example. Sequencing is another way this is used; this refers to different angles and shots of the same subject. Here is one of my favorite opening montages from one of my favorite shows, just to give you an idea.

The last section focuses on technique, which was very helpful to me, especially as I begin our next project for this class, which is a 5 minute video. Here are the most important things to remember from that section.

  1. Transitions. changing from one shot to another. need to be smooth, seamless. don’t draw attention.
  2. Cut. the actual switch from one shot to another. don’t cut audio off. cut on the beat of music when possible.
  3. Mix. gradual transition where one image fades into another.

It is challenging and honestly quite scary for me to step out of my comfort zone of still photography and try to capture moving subjects. But, armed with the knowledge from Osgood and Hinshaw, I am ready to tackle the challenge.


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