Why Do We Edit?

There are a number of reasons as to why we edit footage, firstly it could be to supprt the narrative of a story and effect the time that events occure in a media. For example if you are an editor and you want to make it seem to the audience that time is at accelarated rate to real time, you can you a technique called montages or a simple transition to go to the future/past in the narrative of the piece.

Secondary through editing we can get an emotional reaction from the audience. In ‘cinematac storytelling’ the author talks about Pudovkin’s five editing principles which he uses to get an emotional response from the audience. Firstly Pudovkin uses editing to create a contrast in scene’s. For example he can use editing to show the audience a contrast in characters social status, by having two characters in different locations, one in a street surronded by tramps and the other in an office building in a expensive office, the editor can place the shots so they switch between both characters and locations, causing the audience to notice the gap between each characters social status and feel sorry for the character in the lower class situation.

 

Pudovkin’s second method is creating an emotional response through parallism. This editing technique is similar to contrast but can be constantly developed to include other elements of the narrative of a film and last for the whole length of a film. An example of a fim that uses a paralism editing technique could be The Memento, which was directed by Christopher Nolan. In this film we have 4 narratives for each character running parrallel to each other so all 4 events are happening at the same time. This technique can get an emotional response from the audience as it shows a contrast in each characters lives telling the audience about each characters social statues, so you automatically start to feel sorry for the lower of the classes.

 

The third method is symbolism. Through symbolism we can use an object or action to referance a different object or action which causes the audience to subconsiously realise what the has happened in the piece, allowing us to manipulate their emotions on what has happened in the film. To use symbolism in an example, we see a young girl in a small room, which is lit by a single bulb, hunched over her dying mother. Just as the mother says her final words the shot changes to a close up of the lightbulb as the light flickers off. This single lightbulb is symbolism for the death of the mother as all energy (which is represented with the light) as gone out of her due to her death.

 

Technique Four is used in the majority of american films and is called simultaneity. This technique is were the final section of a film is made up of two actions, each controlling the others output. It causes an emotional response from the audience as it begs them to ask the question will they? Wont they? And lets them choose a sub-conciouse choice of which outcome they would prefer to happen. An example of simultaneity in a film could be the 2010 film Scott Pilgrim vs The World. In this film the audience actully gets to see the change in outcome from Scott going back and changing the actions that lead up to that 1 moment of him being killed, allowing him to survive the second time around.

 

The final editing technique used by Pudovkin’s to get an emotional response from the audience is Leit-motif (reiteration of theme). This technique is were a certian theme is constantly being presented through a piece causing the audience to keep going back to a certain emotion through out the piece. An example could be, The 1976 version of Carrie. In this film the main character Carrie has been raised in a strict religous background, which as she slowley self-destructs, which is constanyl being referred back to through crosses and literature, making religeon a theme in the movie. This provokes the response from the audience that it is due to religeon that these events are happening, for example, if it wasnt for religeon Miss White wouldnt be so controlling over Carrie, who then might not have been so awkward in social situations, cauing her not to get bullied. So because the audience blames religeon as the reason why the events are happening in the film, the audience ends up feeling empaphy for Carrie, even though she is a killer and the first natural emotion from the audience should have been feeling sorry for the victims of Carries wrath.

 

Another reason as to why we edit is to keep the rhythm of a piece flowing. If we didnt cut a piece down it cold get to long, forcing the audience to grown bored and not take in the narrative of the piece. By applying a cut firstly you can manipulate the on screen time of a piece but you can also cause the audience to see the shot in a whole new context to the previous, which can cause a reponse form the audience or help the narrative to move on, for example using a cut to establish a change in scene in a film. In Walter Murch’s book ‘The Blink Of An Eye:A Perspective on Film’ he talks in detail about why we use cut in cinema and why the audience accepts cuts when they happen. An interesting point that he makes is that he thinks audience accept cuts because of how a cut section of film has a similarity to how our dreams are played out in our minds, both create a juxstapositon between different shots. As we see it most nights, why shouldnt we accept it when we see it happen on screen. Also this dream theory could also play on why accept sci-fi films as much as we do, is it because in dreams we imagine the wildest fantasies so narratives from sco-fi films is nothing compared to our dreams.

 

In conclusion we edit for one purpose, to achieve something that couldnt be achieved with just a camera. By allowing footage to be edit we can improve it visually, manipulate the narrative and time scale of the narrative on a more conplex scale and allowing directors to have a stronger connection with their audiences through films.

 

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