Film Editing

Created on : October 25, 2023 14:58 | Last updated on : January 18, 2024 13:06


Film editing is the art and craft of cutting and assembling finished film. This work is done by a film editor who helps complete the director's vision of the movie.


Film Editing is both a creative and a technical part of the film post production process of filmmaking. The term is derived from the traditional process of working with film which increasingly involves the use of digital technology. When putting together some sort of video composition, typically, you would need a collection of shots and footages that vary from one another. The act of adjusting the shots you have already taken, and turning them into something new is known as film editing.

 The Film Editor works with raw footage, selecting shots and combining them into sequences which create a finished motion picture. Film editing is described as an art or skill, the only art that is unique to cinema, separating filmmaking from other art forms that preceded it, although there are close parallels to the editing process in other art forms such as poetry and novel writing. Film editing is an extremely important tool when attempting to intrigue a viewer. When done properly, a film's editing can captivate a viewer and fly completely under the radar. Because of this, film editing has been given the name the invisible art.” An effective way to "re-imagine" and even rewrite a film is to use the layers of imagery, plot, language, music, timing, and actor performances in a creative way to create a coherent whole. Typically, editors are quite involved in the process of creating a movie. To achieve a clean shot, an film editor must choose just the best photos and eliminate any extraneous frames. Filmmakers who are known for their auteur style, such as Akira Kurosawa, Steven Soderbergh, Bahram Beyzai, and the Coen brothers, occasionally edit their own films.

History of Film Editing

Early films were Short Films that were one long, static, and locked-down shot. Motion in the shot was all that was necessary to amuse an audience, so the first films simply showed activity such as traffic moving along a city street. There was no story and no editing. Each film ran as long as there was film in the camera.

Screenshot from The Four Troublesome Heads, one of the first films to feature multiple exposures.

The first edited film was released in 1898. Robert W. Paul's Come Along, Do! was the first film that used a variety of shots, with one scene being put after another. Over time, film directors and different film producers began using stylistic approaches to their editing. For example, in films of Wes Anderson he likes leaving the shot relatively symmetrical. He also likes using different filters and unique lighting when shooting, all unique aspects of his film editing style.

Film Editing Process

According to “Film Art, An Introduction”, by Bordwell and Thompson, there are four basic areas of film editing that the editor has full control over. The first dimension is the graphic relations between a shot A and shot B. The camera shots are analysed in terms of their graphic configurations, including light and dark, lines and shapes, volumes and depths, movement and stasis. The film director makes deliberate choices regarding the composition, lighting, colour, and movement within each shot, as well as the transitions between them. There are several techniques used by film editors to establish graphic relations between shots. These include maintaining overall brightness consistency, keeping important elements in the centre of the frame, playing with colour differences, and creating visual matches or continuities between shots.

Film Editing and Mise en Scene

The phrase "mise en scene" refers to every aspect of a shot, including the location, lighting, music, and costumes. Mise en Scene and film editing are closely related to one another. Using filters and changing the lighting in a scene are important aspects of editing a film. The mise en scene of a particular shot is enhanced through film editing. Filming usually involves getting shots from a variety of perspectives. The film's mise en scene includes all of the camera angles you use.

Film Editing at Present

Modern film editing has evolved significantly since it was first introduced to the film and entertainment industry. Some other new aspects of editing have been introduced such as film colour grading and digital workflows. As mentioned earlier, over the course of time, new technology has exponentially enhanced the quality of pictures in films. One of the most important steps in this process was transitioning from analogue to digital filmmaking. By doing this, it gives the ability editors to immediately playback scenes, duplication and much more. Additionally digital has simplified and reduced the cost of filmmaking. Digital film is not only cheaper, but lasts longer, is safer, and is overall more efficient. Colour grading is a film post production process, where the film editor manipulates or enhances the colour of images, or environments in order to create a colour tone. Doing this can alter the setting, tone, and mood of the entirety of scenes, and can enhance reactions that would otherwise have the possibility of being dull or out of place. Colour grading is vital to the film editing process, and is technology that allows editors to enhance a story.

Today, most films are edited digitally (on systems such as Media Composer, Final Cut Pro X or Premiere Pro) and bypass the film positive workprint altogether. In the past, the use of a film positive (not the original negative) allowed the film editor to do as much experimenting as he or she wished, without the risk of damaging the original. With digital editing, editors can experiment just as much as before except with the footage.

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