Friday, 4 March 2011

The Principles of Editing

When editing these principles are generally taken into consideration to get the best out of what is being edited. They can be used as "rules" but are not unbreakable as it is possible for it to work very well by going against these conventions.

Continuity Editing

This refers to arranging the sequence of shots into a progression of events.

It is used a lot in both television and film as it allows the story to progress in the right order making it easier to understand. Confusion could appear if it was not the case although in some cases this works really well by fracturing the narrative.

Continuity editing aims for the editing to be virtually invisible, it is now universally used but was previously associated with Hollywood.

It uses a smooth and seamless style of narrating the story which is done through a variety of techniques.

The 180 degree rule is a basic guideline that states two characters or elements in the same scene should always have the same left/right relationship to each other. If the camera passes over the imaginary axis connecting the two subjects would be shown from the opposite side and therefore in reverse angle. Sometimes so that the audience doesn't get confused by the position of the characters the camera doesn't cross this line.

This is an example of the 180 degree rule. It is a video from Youtube that someone has posted specifically to inform about this rule.

Sometimes this rule can be broken, for example in this clip from the Shining you can see how the camera crosses the imaginary axis.

This creates a really interesting effect as it breaks the conventions of the 180 degree rule. It creates almost a fractured view as the editing is a lot more obvious, which is the opposite effect that is sought after when following this rule.

Continuity editing makes sure that the editing isn't visible which makes the shot consistent which makes sure that the viewer doesn't feel confused.

The eye-line match technique is used as well during continuity editing. One shot shows a character looking off screen and then the next shot shows what the character or subject that it is looking at. This is used to help make cuts smoother as the viewer expects the cuts to happen and is eager to find out what is next. The video here shows this.

Cross-cutting is also used in continuity editing. Like the previous two techniques (180 degree rule and the eye-line match technique) it is used to establish smooth continuity. During cross-cutting the camera will cut away from one action to another action. Through doing this it suggests that both of the actions shown are happening at the same time. During these shots, the viewer will generally compare them for this reason. Cross-cutting is mainly used to build up suspense. During the cross-cutting the viewer will form expectations which will eventually be shown or fulfilled.

Other Types of Editing

Jump Cuts

These are confusing cuts as they go from one shot to the next which do not follow the obvious form of cause and effect which makes this confusing for the viewer as it would not be what they are expecting. They are generally used to disrupt the audience's attention to create shock.

You can see an example of the jump cut bellow from Godard's Breathless. This film is a perfect example to see how the jump cut works best.

Fade Out

This is when the image on screen fades out to black.

Fade In

This is when the screen fades from black to an image.

Both fading out and fading in can be used to suggest an amount of time passing, this can also be used to give the audience a short break to allow them to prepare for the next scene. It is also used in some films at the ending. You can see an example of this here at the end of this clip of Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator which shows both a fade out from the image and a fade in to some text.


This is when the image on screen slowly disappears as the new image appears. Dissolves are generally used to indicate the end of a shot or scene and to introduce the beginning of the next one. Below is an example of this.


These are when one part of the screen literally wipe over the rest of the screen. These aren't generally used in film of television as they look comic-bookish and so do not necessarily fit with a lot of film and television. You can see in the clip below a montage of the wipes seen in Star Wars III. This film uses a lot of this transition for the relation to the comic-book themes that this transition gives off. It works well with this film because of the comic-book origins of the film.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)