Welcome To CTPR 556
all had a chance to learn the fundamentals of film editing in your first two
years here at USC. Now is the time for a short review and then moving upward
into more challenging, more invigorating, and more in-depth territory. After
editing your own films in Production I and your partner's film in Production
II, you took one of two paths. You either took Intermediate
Editing, where you learned by editing on scenes from film and television shows
in our library or you edited a film in 546 (either a documentary or narrative
The basic storytelling principles that you've developed in these classes can
be summarized in the following ways, using terms we've developed in the 535
class. (Click here to see the
CTPR 535 website).
- First, we figure out what the overall film is about and wants to say. A
tool that we've developed to do that in the Intermediate Editing class is
to create a two or three sentence logline for the overall film. Ask yourself,
"What is this film about? Where and when does the film take place? Who are
the main characters of this film? What is the tone and style of the film?
- Once we have done that for the overall film, then we can examine what the
individual scene/sequence of the film that we are about to edit is supposed
to do. How does this scene/sequence fit into the film's overall logline.
Where along the storytelling arc does this scene take place? What do we want
the audience to take away from the scene? What is important for them to know?
What character/characters change in the scene -- that is, in what way are
they different at the end of the scene from how they began the scene?
- Now we can get specific about those changes and the information that we
are doling out to the audience. Looking at the script, we then must ask ourselves
on what specific lines and/or actions do these changes happen? If a character
goes from happy to sad in a scene, where are the exact moments in the scene
where we want the audience to get those transitions?
- I call those moments the Editing Beats (another editor whose taught here,
Steve Kemper, calls them "Red Dot Moments").
Having figured that
out, we can then bring what we call the Rule
of Threes into bear to help shape those moments. The Rule of Threes is, quite
simply, the following:
- The implications of this rule are what editing is all about. Because the
way to call attention to something in a film is by changing something that
the audience is observing, we want to make sure that we change things in
places where those editing beats fall. What do we mean by changing things?
For example: where do we go from wider shots to closer ones? When can we
start music? Finish music? Where should we change the pauses that one character
has takes before speaking? Where do we change the balance between overlaps
and straight cuts? The answers to these questions are usually "At the Editing
The implications of all of this are what we've examined in previous editing
classes. Now is the time to move into a place where we can use these observations
on longer form projects.
In short -- welcome to Advanced Editing.
All material © 2001-2007 by Norman Hollyn
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