Editing 201
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Editing 201. Editing Motivation. A constant flow of new information involves the audience in the story and keeps them interested. There must be a good reason for making an edit. #1 Visual Cue. A Gesture or Look-off

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Editing 201

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Editing 201

Editing Motivation

A constant flow of new information involves the audience in the story and keeps them interested. There must be a good reason for making an edit.

#1 Visual Cue

A Gesture or Look-off

  • When a character points or turns his head to look at something, the next shot should show what has caught the character’s attention.

Visual Cue Continued...

A Facial Expression

  • When an actor so much as smiles, the editor has a reason to cut to what the character is smiling at. (works well for screams too)

Visual Cue - La Sindrome di Stendhal (1996)

#2 Off-Screen Reference


  • A shout, a gun blast, a telephone ring heard off-screen is usually followed by a cut to an image that identifies the source of the sound.

#3 To Add “Texture”

  • Changing images and sound adds to the texture of the video. This makes it more interesting and dynamic.

#3 con’t …Texture

  • Texture is created by continually changing and interweaving of different content, sounds, and angles.

    • Show a variety of images

    • Use interesting angles

    • Interweave the sound

      • L-Cut and reverse L-Cut

      • Layer the sound effects with the recorded track

      • Add suitable Music with fades

#4 To Change Location

  • Edits can move back and forth to different locations as the story develops.

Why do cuts work?

  • The audience has no problem accepting a sudden change when the difference between the outgoing and incoming shot is significant

Significant Change

  • If the shot size has only slightly changed between shots and new information is not received, then the cut will not work. (Jump cut)

Jump Cut

Dancer in the Dark (2000)

Shot Size

  • When similar shots are being cut together, they must have similar shot size, composition, and framing.

Shot Size

  • A change in composition like the one below is annoying to the audience. One character’s head appears to be much larger than the other.

Continuity of Action

  • Hold the action as long as the viewer is still interested….

  • Don’t cut during a zoom or pan

Continuity of Content

  • It is the editor’s job to make sure that the content flows properly throughout video.

Continuity of Direction

  • Only action from the same side of the action axis will cut together (180o Rule)

  • If the director “crosses the line” it appears as though the characters have changed positions between shots.

180 Degree Rule

180 Degree Rule – cont’d

Entrance / Exit Cut

  • Basic Rule: hold the empty frame for a “beat” before the subject enters the frame.

  • Showing extra footage after the subject leaves is confusing to the audience.


Action Cut

  • An action cut presents two different views of the same action cut together to appear as one continuous action.

  • A well executed action cut is seamless and will not be perceived as two different shots.

ACTION CUT Continued

  • The cutting points between the incoming and outgoing shots should slightly overlap (approximately 3 frames) depending on the speed of the action.

  • The overlap gives the audience time to orient themselves to the incoming shot.


Cut on Action – Traffic (2000)

Measure of Success?

  • The editor is successful when her/his work is invisible (i.e.. The edits are not obvious or unnecessary)

  • The edits must add to the story being told.

Continuity Editing

  • Maintain continuous and clear narrative action


  • Dynamic, often discontinuous, relationships between shots

The Final Word

  • Keep accurate records of the shots from the field tapes so you can find shots quickly and easily.

  • If you want to be unconventional…do it consistently… then you develop a style

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