Film editing has been referred to as the “invisible art.” The better the film editing is, the more transparent it becomes. Film editing is the balance of art and technique of boiling down hours and hours of footage and assembling those shots into a compelling and coherent film.
Good film editing transitions us from one image to another in a way that establishes the film’s rhythm and moves us through the story without us noticing the changes in images because they seem natural. Naturally, editing is integrated into the script, the acting, and the actual filming to create a whole that fulfills the film’s vision and purpose.
Good editing builds up every moment to get the most out of each and create a sequence that fulfills the scene’s purpose. The editor is creating the flow of the scenes. Some people call editing the “third writing” of a film, after the script and the filming.
Each edit should move the story forward, either for plot development or for emotional impact. Sometimes it is just a pause to let the viewer assimilate what is happening.
We asked Arsenii Pronkin — editor of a feature film “A Seige Diary” and a lot of commercials plus music videos, what makes good film editing.
AP: — First of all, I want to talk about signs of poor editing.
In general, if you are noticing the editing, there is a good chance it’s poor editing. A film may be edited too much if you notice scene jumps that are confusing or pacing that is so fast you don’t have time to absorb the action. There is probably room for improvement.
Another sign of poor editing would be not cutting enough, so the story feels over-told, and the outcome of scenes are too obvious.
Lack of continuity that is confusing to the viewer is a sign of editing that could be improved. A shot that does not have a purpose, such as moving the story ahead and is slowing down the pace; this is known as a flat edit.
What are the main elements of film editing?
AP: — Editing is looking at the footage and from it constructing a scene. The editor is deciding on camera shots, such as wide shots and close-ups. They are establishing the film’s pace and deciding where to pick up the action or the emotion or so slow it down. All this must serve the purpose of keeping the viewer engaged in the story.
Some main elements of editing are ellipsis, cross-cutting and parallel action, juxtaposition, transitions, and montage.
What are the tools for film editing?
AP: — Video editing tools have evolved tremendously and have resulted in much of filmmaking now happening in post-production. A “rough cut” is now much closer to the final product, .often close in sound and visual effects, color correction, and music. They use a variety of film editing tools, including programs and equipment
Some tools the pros commonly use in post-production:
Non-Linear Editor (NLE)
The standard for an NLE features timelines, media bins, and editing tools that help an editor stay organized. Prices for NLE’s have come down in recent years, and an NLE can be purchased for as little as $239 per year. This will let you handle special effects and complicated edits. Some top products are Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro, and Final Cut Pro. Your selection will depend upon your level of experience, your hardware, and your preferences. Some NLE’s offer free or trial versions, so it’s possible to test a few before you commit.
Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
A digital audio workstation is a software app for editing audio from various sources. There are free programs that will work for small projects and more powerful pro-level projects. Again, test a few before you purchase. Some popular brands are Avid Pro Tools, Apple Logic Pro X, and Audacity.
Closed-Captioning and Subtitling
Now trending is providing closed-captions and subtitles to make content accessible to the deaf or hard-of-hearing, or those who speak a foreign language. Closed captioning and subtitling can be a great differentiator for your work. Some NLE’s have this functionality built in. There are many programs, some that are even free.
Good editing requires a monitor with high resolution, a large display, and good color accuracy. A powerful computer is also critical. Be sure to check the system requirements of any software you use.
Your workstation must have great speakers and headphones. The speakers should have studio monitors and pro production speakers.
— Thanks a lot, Arsenii, it was really great seeing you, hope we will get more awesome works from you and your team!
AP: — Thanks a lot! Yeah, I think that we will not hesitate with new works and will release a lot of cool stuff till the end of the year. Remember, it all starts with a great script, and good videography is essential, but never underestimate the power of film editing. When you want the best in all three, consider a full-service film agency like C&I Studios.