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  • 5/29/2015 MovieeditingtechniquesWithprettypictures!

    http://www.lavideofilmmaker.com/filmmaking/filmeditingtips.html 1/16

    MovieeditingtechniquesWithprettypictures!

    Honeyourunderstandingoffilmeditinguntilyouaredazzlinglybrilliantatit.

    Theverybestdirectorshaveacomprehensiveunderstandingoffilmediting.Theyplananddirectshotsinsuchawaythattheycanbecuttogethersmoothlyandcoherently.Ambitiousfilmmakerswouldthereforebewelladvisedtolearnfilmediting.

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  • 5/29/2015 MovieeditingtechniquesWithprettypictures!

    http://www.lavideofilmmaker.com/filmmaking/filmeditingtips.html 2/16

    ______________________

    Youshouldgenerallycutonaction,especiallyifyouarecuttingfromawideshotofasubjecttoatightershotofthesamesubjectonthesamevisualaxis.Cuttingonactionmeansthatyoucutfromoneshottoanotherjustasanactionisperformed,suchasanactortakinghishatoff.Whenyoujointheshots,youusethefirstpartofthemotioninthewideshotandthesecondpartofthemotioninthetightershot(youhavetoexperimenttofindoutexactlywheretocutforthesmoothestresultsitdependsontheshots).

    Thereareanumberofwaystocutfromawideshottoatightershotsmoothly:

    PleaseallowtheanimatedGIFimagessometimetoloadproperly

    1.Cuttingonaction

    ThefollowingexampleistakenfromafilmIdirectedandedited:

    FastAccess:

    BacktotopHomePageTopics

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    2a.Cuttingoncrossframemovement:therevealshot

    ThefollowingexampleistakenfromamusicvideoIdirectedandedited:

    2b.Cuttingoncrossframemovement:therevealshotAsecondexample

    ThefollowingexampleistakenfromafilmIdirectedandedited:

  • 5/29/2015 MovieeditingtechniquesWithprettypictures!

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    3.Cuttingtoemptyframeandlettingsubjectcomein

    ThefollowingexampleistakenfromamusicvideoIdirectedandedited:

    4.Cuttingtosecondaryactionfollowedbytilting/panningtomainsubject

    ThefollowingexampleistakenfromamusicvideoIdirectedandedited:

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    http://www.lavideofilmmaker.com/filmmaking/filmeditingtips.html 5/16

    5.Cuttingonanemphaticpartofdialogue

    ThefollowingexampleistakenfromafilmIdirectedandedited:

    IwasabletomakethecutsshownabovebecauseIknewIwasgoingtomakethosecutslongbeforeIshottheprojects,anddirectedthescenesaccordingly.Noneofitwasaluckyaccident.

    PleasenotethatGIFanimationsarenotassmoothaspropervideo.MyhopehereisthattheGIFanimationsabovegiveyouaclearideaofsomefilmeditingtechniquesmuchmoreeffectivethanexplainingwithwords!

    Avoidingjumpcuts

    Ifyoudonotcutonactionandthetwoshotsarealongthesamevisualaxis,theresultisajumpcut.Jumpcutsarejarringanddisconcerting,

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    andprettymuchunacceptable,unlessthatistheeffectyouwantfornarrativereasons.StevenSpielbergsometimesusesjumpcutstopunctuatethedramaofascene,andhealwaysusesthetechniquemasterfully.AnexampleisthesceneinwhichCarlHanrattyseesFrankAbagnalesphotointheschoolyearbookinCatchMeIfYouCan.AnotherexampleisthegasstationsceneinDuel.

    Jumpcutscanalsobeusedtocompresstime(SpielbergusedthistechniqueinSchindlersList,inthesceneinwhichSchindlerischoosinghisfuturesecretarywhilehisnewofficeisbeingpainted),butagain,itisaveryspecificlookandthedirectormustplanthesceneverydeliberatelytomakeitwork.

    Therewillnotbeajumpcutifyou:

    a)cutonaction,asinexamples1and4above,or

    b)cuttoanemptyframeandletthesubjectcomein,asinexample3above,or

    c)cutfromoneshottothetightershotwhilesomethingismovingacrosstheframe,asinexamples2aand2babove,or

    d)cutfromoneangletoanotheranglethatisrotationallyatleast20degreesawayfromthefirstone,or

    e)cuttoanothershotandthenbacktothefirstshot,orashotofsomethingelse.

    Themiddleshotin(e)isknownasacutaway.Youshouldshootplentyofcutaways,especiallyforinterviewsanddocumentaries,whereyouarenotabletodirectthingspreciselyandneedmoreinsuranceshotsforpostproduction.Cutawayscanbeashotoftheinterviewernodding,orashotofaglassofwateranythingthatyoucancutto.CutawaysarealsoknownasBrollshots.

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    Moreonjumpcuts:bearinmindthattheydontonlyhappenwhencuttingalongavisualaxiswithoutactionifyoucutfromoneshottoanothershotthatisperpendiculartoitandinwhichthesubjectisframedinexactlythesameway,thatsajumpcutperhapsanevenmoreirritatingonethanwhenyoucutfromawideshottoacloseupwithnoaction.Forexample,ifyoucutfromafrontalmediumshottoamediumshotthatisframedfromtheactorsside,thatsajumpcut,eventhoughthereisanangulardifferenceofmorethan20degreesbetweenthetwoshots(see[b]above).Avoiditliketheplagueunlessyouareseekingaspecificeffectandaresureofhowtheaudiencewillperceiveit,whichisnotalwayseasytopredict.

    Rememberthatjumpcutsareperfectlyacceptableinmusicvideos.Thehumanbrainseemsnottofindjumpcutsdisconcertinginmusicvideos,whichisprettyinteresting.

    Youshouldalsobearinmindthatittakesapproximately2filmframes(1/12 ofasecond)forthehumangazetoswitchfromonesideofthescreentotheother.Youshouldallowforthiswhencuttingyourproject.

    Wheneditingsoundandpicture,youshouldstaggerthecuts.ThismeansNOTaligningthevideoandaudiocutstheyshouldbeseparatedbyatleastasecond.Ifthecutsarealigned,thechangeinbackgroundnoisewhenyoucutfromonesoundcliptotheotherwillbesimultaneouswiththevisualcutthisbreakstheillusionofcontinuityandwillmakeyourprojectlookamateurish.

    Thefollowingdiagramillustratesthistechnique:

    Shootingavarietyofanglesandeditingthemtogethersmoothlyenhancesthecinematicillusion,aneffectknownassuperiorcontinuity.

    Thebigimplicationhereisthatyoumusttakealloftheseeditingissuesintoaccountwhenyouproduceyourshotlist.Adirectorsweaknessesbecomepainfullyobviouswhenthetimecomestocutthemovietogether

    th

  • 5/29/2015 MovieeditingtechniquesWithprettypictures!

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    smoothly.

    Preparingfortheeditbystudyingandanalyzingeverytakeyoushot

    Theeditingprocessalwaysbeginsinthesamewayforme:IsitdownwithanotepadandpenandIwatcheverysingletakefilmedduringprincipalphotography.

    AsIwatchthetakes,Imakenotesforeachtake,makingbriefnotesonthecamerawork,performanceandotherrelevantdetails,suchasextraneousnoises.

    Forexample,onetakeofagivenshotmighthaveaperfectcameramovebutweakperformances,orviceversa.

    Ofcourseinprincipleyouwanttofindthetakethatisthebestineveryrespect,butthisisnotalwayspossible.

    Particularlyforverylongshots,theperformancemightvaryinquality,ortheremightbeacameraworkweaknessatsomepointinthetake.

    Usuallynoneofthisasaproblem,andforthepurposeofassemblingthebestpossiblesequence,Itypicallyusedifferentpartsofdifferenttakesforanygivenshot.Itworksverywell.

    Thisonlybecomesimpossiblewhenashotissupposedtobeleftuncut:inthatcaseyoureallyhavetoensurethatitisperfectfrombeginningtoendduringprincipalphotography.

    Inanycase,ensuringthatyouhaveatleastonetakeinwhichboththeperformancesandthecameraworkaregoodisoneoftheessentialdirectingskillsthatyoushouldmaster.

    Bytheendofthisprocessofreviewingthefootage,IhaveasetofveryhelpfulnotesthatIuseintheactualediting.

    Forexample,whenIgettoaparticularshotinasequence,byreferringtomynotes,Iknowwhichtakehasthebestcameramove,whichtakehasthebestperformance,andideallywhichtakehasagoodcompromiseofboth.Thismakestheeditingprocessmoreefficient,becauseIthoroughlyinvestigatedandanalyzedalltakesbeforehand.

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    Iftheprojectyouareeditingwasdirectedbysomeoneelse,studyingallthetakesandfamiliarizingwiththemthoroughlyisevenmoreimportant.Youwonthaveaclueofwhatthedirectordidorwhattheprojectisaboutuntilyouwatchalltherawfootageatleastonce.

    Inprinciplethesenotescouldbemadeduringtheshoot,butinpracticethereisntenoughtimeorperspectivetodothisinthepressurecookerthatisprincipalphotography.Thisanalysisofthefootagecanonlybedonewithpeaceandquiet,andtheperfecttimetodoitisbeforeyouactuallystartassemblingtheprojectonthetimeline.

    Howtolearnmovieeditingandbecomeahighlycompetenteditor:aquestionfromareader

    Whatdoesittaketobeagoodeditor,bearinginmindthateditingshouldnotbetakenforgranted?

    Myanswer:

    Ah,oneofmyfavoritetopics!

    Iagreewiththevitalimportanceofeditingitistheveryheartofmoviemaking.Thisiswhyeveryseriousdirectormustalsobecomeamasterfilmeditor.Iamadirectorwhoalwayseditshisownwork,andIlearnedtheartoffilmeditingconcomitantlywithlearninghowtodirect.Irecommendthispathtoeveryfilmmaker,becauseunderstandingeditingmakesyouamuchbetterdirector,andeditingthestuffyoudirectdoesproducesignificantlybetterresultsinthecompletedproject.Itsimplygivesyouamuchmorecomprehensiveandcoherentvision.

    Itisnotenoughtounderstandfilmediting:youmustalsopractice,justasyoucannotbecomeagoodviolinplayerjustbyreadingaboutit.

    HereishowIlearnedfilmediting:

    1.IreadGrammaroftheFilmLanguage multipletimesthemostusefulfilmmakingbookIhaveeverread!

    2.IwatchedmyfavoritefilmsandspottedthetechniquesIreadaboutinGrammarofthefilmlanguage.Watchingafilmwiththesound

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