Sunday, August 16, 2015

In The Blink Of An Eye

In The Blink Of An Eye - A Perspective On Film Editing (2nd Edition) by Walter Murch, Sliman-James Press, 2001.

It would be hard to ignore a book whose forward is written by Francis Coppola and especially one that starts with "The thought of Walter Murch brings a smile to my face."

A very interesting book which serves to remind us that the footage is just there for the edit!  Short chapters contain advice, anecdote and inspiration.  

"It is frequently at the edges of things that we learn most about the middle: ice and steam can reveal more about the nature of water than water alone ever could."  Apocalypse Now qualifies as the cinematic equivalent of ice and steam. 95 unseen minutes for every one that made it to screen. The average ratio is around 20:1.

Editing is not so much a 'putting together' as a 'discovery of a path'.

Shadow splices - made, considered and then undone and lifted.

A vast amount of preparation to arrive at a brief moment of decisive action: the cut - the moment of transition from one shot to the next - something that, appropriately enough, should look almost self-evidently simple and effortless, if it is even noticed at all.

A film is many pieces of film joined into a mosaic of images. The joining (the cut) works, even though it represents a total and instantaneous displacement if one field of vision with another, a displacement that sometimes also entails a jump forward or backward in time and space.

Always try to do the most with the least.  Suggestion is always more effective than exposition.

How do you want your audience to feel?

Six criteria of the cut:

  • Emotion (51%)
  • Story (23%)
  • Rhythm (10%)
  • Eye-trace (7%)
  • Two-dimensional plane of screen (5%)
  • Three-dimensional space of action (4%)

All in all, a useful book.  It is quite technical though in places - I think it is really written for some who is actually be hoping to become a professional movie editor.

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