Since the first ever uses of editing in the early 1900’s (Roberts, 2015), the techniques used to convey a story have evolved greatly. Technology is one of the biggest reasons why editing has developed so much as it has advanced to support the creativity of the films and TV shows of today’s world. Another reason for its huge amount of improvement is due to the fact that the expectations from an audience are constantly changing , therefore the final edit must reflect and adapt to the new criteria.
In this post I am going to be researching different editing techniques that are used in current films and TV shows and analyse why they have been used/what effect they create. I plan on using my own experiences in editing and information found online to help with my research. As well as this I am going to be watching videos that will comprehensively explain that technique and show how they can be used to your advantage in a sequence of footage.
For me, the main focus of this task was the use of cuts and transitions and how they could be used effectively. With this in mind I found a video explaining many different kinds of cuts and transitions in great detail. This was a great starting point in my research as it gave me an in depth explanation behind each technique.
(RocketJump Film School, 2016)
Match on action
Match on action (cutting on action) is a technique that is used to help keep a sequence flow with less visible cuts. It can be done by cutting from one shot to another whilst the main subject is in action. For the technique to work well, the movement must be clear so the viewers can see that the movement is a continuation from one shot to the other. This will help the the audience distinguish the action in each shot as one movement. The main concept behind this technique is that the action should start the in the first shot and should end in the second shot, though there are many examples of this technique that have more then two shots per action. This method is mainly used to give the audience more than one view of the action, although it can be used to emphasise and create tension.
The cutaway technique is used mainly for one of two reasons. As the name suggests this technique involves a cut from one shot to another and then a cut back to the first shot. It can be used to show something that might be happening outside of shot, possibly to help give a sense of location or awareness. Alternatively the cutaway technique could be used to show someones thoughts or feelings. This is particularly effective if carried out properly. For example the director could show that a character is scared by showing a quick glimpse at what the character is scared by.
Cross cutting is a technique that is widely used in film and TV shows. It is mainly used to show a phone conversation, although it is effectively just several cuts between two different situations. This can be used to create many different effects such as increasing the tension, or excitement within a scene. The cross cut technique is one the most difficult methods to execute as it requires you to have footage from two different situations which means that there is significantly more planning involved. However it is a great way to make an average, boring scene more interesting to watch.
The jump cut is fairly different from the other transitions I have researched so far. This is because it can be used to show an amount of time passing between shots. Therefore it is often used for montages to fill in any gaps between speech etc. As well as this, the jump cut can be used to engage the audience into the scene. For example, jump cuts are usually very unpredictable and sometimes aren’t even noticed the first time seen so it can be a very effective method to grab the audiences attention. This means that it is often used to emphasise a certain point.
A smash cut is a technique that isn’t used so often in film and TV though it is still very effective if done properly. The smash cut is the transition between two very different shots. It is used mainly to emphasise a point or grab the audiences attention as it is a very abrupt transition. A good example of this is someone waking up from an intense dream.Out of the many different types of transitions between shots this is one of my favourite as it can be used to completely change the situation and feel of the scene.
The invisible cut is used to trick the audience into thinking that the two separate shots are the same take. This can be done in a number of different ways. One of the main techniques to use the transition is by cutting into movement, so as an action starts in the shot, a cut would be made onto the next shot. Or the camera could be aligned with the movement in the shot. For example someone could be running from one side of the shot to the other, whilst the camera is tracking the movement there would be a cut.
Here is a video with a huge amount of invisible cuts and tacking shots.
(Leonardo Dalessandri, 2014)
L and J cut
These cuts rely on audio for them to work properly. Effectively, both the L and J cuts use audio to guide the audience between each shot, making the transition seem smoother. The L cut is when the audio from the first shot is carried over to the second shot, mainly used to improve the flow of a sequence with background and ambient noise etc. However a J cut is implemented by having the audio of the second shot start before the video footage does. This can be a great method of changing the situation within the scene.
My experience with cuts and transitions
Here is a video that was edited during class using Avid Media Composer. The video consists of a selection of footage showing different men surfing. Also there is music in the background to go with the theme of the video. Our task was just to simply use the footage and music and edit the two together. During this process I used some different techniques to help the sequence flow better. Though it is very basic I implemented many fades and dissolves which I thought worked quite well as it helps the transitions seem smoother. I also used speed to help the transitions seem less visible, though I think this would have worked better if I had spent more time analysing how that technique can be done to a good quality.
Researching editing techniques has been very interesting for me as I feel that it is something that I could have improved on and would benefit by knowing more about it. Through my findings I have noticed that a lot of planning goes into how cuts and transitions are used both on and off set. This means that it is crucial to know why these different techniques would be used and how they can be executed effectively.
balseraph (no date) Match on action. Available at: http://everything2.com/title/match+on+action (Accessed: 19 November 2016).
Leonardo Dalessandri (2014) Watchtower of turkey. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7yqtW4Isec (Accessed: 20 November 2016).
Moura, G. (2014) ‘Elements of cinema’, Elements of Cinema, 1 July. Available at: http://www.elementsofcinema.com/editing/parallel-editing/ (Accessed: 19 November 2016).
Roberts, B. (2015) The evolution of film editing. Available at: https://blogs.adobe.com/conversations/2015/02/the-evolution-of-film-editing.html (Accessed: 19 November 2016).
RocketJump Film School (2016) Cuts & transitions 101. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAH0MoAv2CI&t=76s (Accessed: 19 November 2016).