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Film Editing - page 2

Editors need to understand and articulate the inner workings of their specialty- equipment, job pressures, working methods, theories, and instincts.

One universal principle that distinguishes good from bad editing is rhythm and musicality. Equally important is the subliminal power of editing. Viewers often say that editing is invisible to them unless the film is slowed down and analyzed frame by frame. 

This invisibility is perhaps a principal reason that editing is seldom considered while watching a movie; it is not as tangible as costumes, photography, music, or acting. Editing is the movement and manipulation of frames, within which more movement takes place, but audiences forget the physical passage of the film itself and become absorbed in the movement of the story.

In the olden days when film machinery was very primitive, a smooth-running film was non-existent. Every splice, cut and edit could be observed. These days with the ever-improving quality of editing techniques (digital editing for example) to notice a flaw in a picture is virtually non-existent. The editor must continually remember both the moving pieces of film and the moving images on the film, for both must work together simultaneously. Dozens of joined shots fly past the eye at twenty-four frames per second, and the cumulative impact is of an overall image, emotion or sensation.

Editors will agree that successful-memorable-editing makes visual and emotional connections between seemingly unrelated items. Connections between a film's characters, relationships, and environment all derive from a subconscious ability to discover layers.

The solitary nature of the job stresses organization, discipline, persistence, self-reliance, and tireless devotion to details. Yet all editors recognize the importance of collaboration, particularly with the director, and a generally soft-spoken nature can be an asset to the give and take nature of the business. Editors never forget that the director must be the unifying mind behind the project, and they remain servant to that vision. The ideal relationship between editor and director is a close familial one, in some cases spanning decades of trusted collaboration.

Editors tend to work beyond the cutting- through previews, premieres, re-releases; sometimes they are even reengaged for television adaptations and reconstruction's years later. Unfortunately, film editors (like sound editors, who are even more constrained by last-minute demands) face short budgets, short schedules, and short tempers. Despite these limitations, editors are uniformly devoted to their primary responsibility: to make real the directors vision. This duty involves speaking up when they feel the director is too close to the film to see its flaws. Enter the editor as "objective eye."

A film editor is looking at the picture with complete objectivity... they should try very hard to pretend they're the audience
All editors live by what is in the footage, not what the scriptwriter or director hoped would be there. A film editor is looking at the picture with complete objectivity, not subjectively, and they should try very hard to pretend they're the audience so that if something is not working, they should be the first one to know and can fix it.

The director, the producer and the editor are generally the three people who spend the most time on a film. In most cases, the editor is there from the first day of shooting until the film is released into the movie theater.

How do editors begin? Carol Littleton starts with the script. It will be her responsibility to help bring the project from script to screen, and there are always certain things to look for. "I use the script as my main criterion for whether or not I want to do the picture. I like to see a really good strong story with well-defined characters. I look for structure. I don't always get it." At the very least you have to see a possibility for restructuring in editing. There are so many variables over the course of a film being shot and edited that you really want a good script for your bible. 

Once the editor has read the script and made the decision to come aboard, the first day on the job usually co-insides with the first day of production. "At rehearsals, I'm looking to be a quiet auditor. It allows me to have a sense of the film, to experience it somewhat before it is actually shot. I also get a better perception of the problems that the actors encounter. I take notes so that when the moment comes that I'm no longer fresh with the material, I can re-experience the emotional arc of the film. Frequently, there are scripts that represent such a challenge, the editors wonder if they can pull it off," States Joe Hutshing.

On the other hand, there are those rare occasions when a great script can simplify the editor's job.
Normally when you get a script and start talking with the director, you realize there is a whole bunch of material that is unneeded and can be cut at the very beginning.

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