The Art of Editing

Ah, postproduction….one of my favorite topics. In Osgood and Hinshaw’s Visual Storytelling: Videography and Post Production in the Digital Age, they discuss the importance of editing in developing meaning in film. My professor for Reading Film, Dr. Hausmann, used an interesting analogy for this in comparing elements of editing techniques to those of speech: just as following several complex or compound sentences with a simple sentence works to make the simple sentence seemingly pregnant with meaning and thus more impacting, using a different film technique or dramatically altering the duration of a shot from those that precede it creates greater meaning and impact.

For instance, in Gore Verbinski’s The Ring, a scene in which Amy’s mother asks protagonist Rachel to help her determine the cause of Amy’s death involves a sequence of lengthy shots employing the conventional Rule of Thirds and the cut/reverse cut to capture the women’s dialogue before abruptly breaking to a short, horrifying medium shot of Amy in the closet where her mother previously discovered her. Accompanied by a sudden, shrill sound, the shot is incredibly jarring, and this is primarily due to the fact that it follows shots that are significantly different to it (as well as, you know, the whole scary-dead-body-in-the-closet-thing).

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I promise this is the last time I’ll make make fun of Miley Cyrus.

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