To many who are new to the production process, film or video editing is simply the final phase. It’s when all the work that’s been done up until that point is organized, arranged, cut up, etc., but the truth is, there’s more to editing than that.
In fact, as longtime NY and NJ video production experts, we can tell you that the process offers just as many storytelling opportunities as any other phase, and that the way you tie together shots and sequences will absolutely affect the way viewers experience certain scenes as well as the entire piece. Read on to learn more.
Editing is what sets film & video production apart.
Yes, you can manipulate the mise-en-scene to help shape the viewing experience you’re trying to create in your film or video, or you can do via camera movement, like with a series of long takes, for instance.
There are a lot of ways to do it, but film and video editing is what really makes the medium unique. Deciding which shots to include, how long to let them linger, what to cut to, etc., are all artistic choices, and even in long-take films, the cuts will be few and far between and therefore more meaningful.
You can think of editing in a purely economical sense and just try to be as efficient as possible, but you’ll be missing out on a whole bunch of opportunities to more finely tune your film or video and the way viewers respond to it if you do.
For instance, while a single continuous shot is an option if you’re creating some type of intense action scene, you can use editing instead to march viewers to the rhythm you’re after, tying their experience to the pace of the action.
And although long takes can shift compositions and emphasis, in cases like those cutting would make for a more abrupt, even startling experience, which may better suit the content, but the point is that editing can make all the difference, so cut carefully, and creatively.
Video editing allows for more control over time & space.
When early film pioneers realized the power of editing in terms of constructing a distinct “film” space, no matter how much of it actually existed in real life, they must have felt like they’d gotten their hands on some type of magic wand.
Yes, you can simply use editing to establish settings by starting with a long or medium shot to give viewers a sense of the spatial whole before cutting in closer to certain areas, but editing also allows you to be more manipulative with space.
For instance, you can just show separate components of a space and never the spatial whole and then cut them together to compel the audience to believe it’s all happening in the same setting. Then there’s the Kuleshov effect, referring to experiments conducted by master of silent cinema, Lev Kuleshov.
In those experiments, Kuleshov cut from the same shot of an actor’s face to various other objects and the audience perceived the effect, and the actor’s performance, differently each time, proving that editing alone can prompt the viewer to assume things that aren’t actually shown on screen.
And just as editing allows you to control as well as manipulate space, it does the same for time depending on the order you choose for your shots, the duration of them and sequences, and the frequency with which you cut and show the audience things.
You can use flashbacks or flashforwards, for example, overlap action between two shots or repeat it entirely, or you can expand or condense duration via elliptical editing, aka presenting action so that it consumes less time on-screen than it does in the story, usually with dissolves, fades, or wipes.
There will always be possibilities to make graphic matches and create rhythm.
It’s worth mentioning that you can help the editing process a whole lot beforehand, during pre-production, by taking the time to create storyboards, shot lists, pre-visualizations, etc.
For more on that, check out this post, Film and Video Pre-Production Tips for Creating a Better Production and Better Project, but from there, every frame will leave you with editing possibilities based on patterns of light and dark, line and shape, volumes and depths, and movement and stasis.
Every cut creates a graphic relationship between two shots anyway, so why not manipulate that? The point is that matching shapes, colors, composition, and movement from one shot with the composition of the next is a great motivation for editing.
You may also want to deliberately cause graphic clashes between two shots, and then there’s the rhythm to consider, which, like mentioned above, can be matched with the pace of the action occurring within the scene.
A classic example of this editing technique can be found in the finale from 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde below, in which the time between edits becomes shorter and shorter as the action intensifies, creating a heart-pounding effect.
Editing can breathe new life into your film or video production.
V.I. Pudovkin, the legendary Russian filmmaker who developed highly influential theories on montage, may have put it best when he said, “Editing is the basic creative force by power of which the soulless photographs (the separate shots) are engineered into living, cinematographic form.”
And that’s the truth. Editing is what sets film and video production apart from all other mediums, so don’t underestimate its power. Instead, use it to your advantage every chance you get.
We hope this post helps, and check out this post for more on the power of video editing.
About Us: KVibe Productions, a full-service NJ & NYC production company, can handle every aspect of the production process. Whether we’re video editing, creating a commercial or corporate video production, or feature filmmaking, at KVibe, we create to inspire.