METHODS & STYLES OF EDITING Part 1

Film editing is part of the creative post-production (after shooting) process of filmmaking. It involves the selection and combining of shots into sequences, and ultimately creating a finished motion picture which is an art of visual storytelling. Film editing is the only art that is unique to cinema, separating film-making from other art forms that preceded it (such as  photography, theater, dance, writing, and directing), although there are close parallels to the editing process in other art forms like poetry or novel writing. Film editing is often referred to as the “invisible art because when it is well-practiced, the viewer can become so engaged that he or she is not even aware of the editor’s work which gives importance to awards for recognition.

HISTORY
Edwin S. Porter is generally thought to be the American filmmaker who first put film editing to use. Porter worked as an electrician before joining the film laboratory of Thomas Alva Edison in the late 1890s. Early films by Thomas Edison (whose company invented a motion camera and projector) and others were short films that were one long, static, locked-down shot. Motion in the shot was all that was necessary to amuse an audience, so the first films simply showed activity such as traffic moving on a city street. There was no story and no editing. Each film ran as long as there was film in the camera. When Edison’s motion picture studio wanted to increase the length of the short films, Edison came to Porter. Porter made the breakthrough film Life of an American Fireman in 1903. The film was among the first that had a plot, action, and even a close up of a hand pulling a fire alarm.
Other films were to follow. Porter’s ground-breaking film, The Great Train Robbery is still shown in film schools today as an example of early editing form. It was produced in 1903 and was one of the first examples of dynamic, action editing – piecing together scenes shot at different times and places and for emotional impact unavailable in a static long shot. Being one of the first film hyphenates (film director, editor and engineer) Porter also invented and utilized some of the very first (albeit primitive) special effects such as double exposures, miniatures and split-screens.

STYLE
Continuity editing is the predominant style of film editing and video editing in the post-production process of film-making of narrative films and television programs. The purpose of continuity editing is to smooth over the inherent discontinuity of the editing process and to establish a logical coherence between shots .In most films, logical coherence is achieved by cutting to continuity, which emphasizes smooth transition of time and space. Technically, continuity is the responsibility of the script supervisor and film director, who are together responsible for preserving continuity and preventing errors from take to take and shot to shot. The script supervisor, who sits next to the director during shooting, keeps the physical continuity of the edit in mind as shots are set up. He is the editor’s watchman. If shots are taken out of sequence, as is often the case, he will be alert to make sure that that beer glass is in the appropriate state. The editor utilizes the script supervisor’s notes during post-production to log and keep track of the vast amounts of footage and takes ,that a director might shoot..

METHODS
There are several different ways to edit video and each method has its pros and cons. Although most editors opt for digital non-linear editing for most projects, it makes sense to have an understanding of how each method works.

This page provides a very brief overview of each method — we will cover them in more detail in other tutorials.

Film Splicing
Technically this isn’t video editing, it is film editing. But it is worth a mention as it was the first way to edit moving pictures and conceptually it forms the basis of all video editing.
Traditionally, film is edited by cutting sections of the film and rearranging or discarding them. The process is very straightforward and mechanical. In theory a film could be edited with a pair of scissors and some splicing tape, although in reality a splicing machine is the only practical solution. A splicing machine allows film footage to be lined up and held in place while it is cut or spliced together.

Tape to Tape (Linear)
Linear editing was the original method of editing electronic video tapes, before editing computers became available in the 1990s. Although it is no longer the preferred option for most serious work, it still has a place and remains the better option in some cases. It is likely that linear editing will be a useful skill for a long time to come.

In linear editing, video is selectively copied from one tape to another. It requires at least two video machines connected together — one acts as the source and the other is the recorder. The basic procedure is quite simple:

1.Place the video to be edited in the source machine and a blank tape in the recorder.
2.Press play on the source machine and record on the recorder.

The idea is to record only those parts of the source tape you want to keep. In this way desired footage is copied in the correct order from the original tape to a new tape. The new tape becomes the edited version.
This method of editing is called “linear” because it must be done in a linear fashion; that is, starting with the first shot and working through to the last shot. If the editor changes their mind or notices a mistake, it is almost impossible to go back and re-edit an earlier part of the video. However, with a little practice, linear editing is relatively simple and trouble-free.

Digital/Computer (Non-linear)
In this method, video footage is recorded (captured) onto a computer hard drive and then edited using specialized software. Once the editing is complete, the finished product is recorded back to tape or optical disk.

Non-linear editing has many significant advantages over linear editing. Most notably, it is a very flexible method which allows you to make changes to any part of the video at any time. This is why it’s called “non-linear” — because you don’t have to edit in a linear fashion.
One of the most difficult aspects of non-linear digital video is the array of hardware and software options available. There are also several common video standards which are incompatible with each other, and setting up a robust editing system can be a challenge.
The effort is worth it. Although non-linear editing is more difficult to learn than linear, once you have mastered the basics you will be able to do much more, much faster.

Live Editing
In some situations multiple cameras and other video sources are routed through a central mixing console and edited in real time. Live television coverage is an example of live editing.
Live editing is a fairly specialist topic and won’t concern most people.

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