Lecture #5: Rhythm, Pace, Emotion

This week we focus on Rhythm, Pace and Emotion in editing.

We also focus on the work and teachings of editor Walter Murch.

Murch has worked on some incredible award winning films. He edited sound on American Graffiti (1973) and The Godfather: Part II (1974), won his first Academy Award nomination for The Conversation (1974), won his first Oscar for Apocalypse Now (1979), and won an unprecedented double Oscar for sound and film editing for his work on The English Patient (1996). Murch’s editing Oscar was the first to be awarded for an electronically edited film (using the Avid system), and he is the only person ever to win Oscars for both sound mixing and film editing.

Lecture #6 Slides

Reading:

Chapter 29 “The Picture Edit and Pace” The Technique of Film and Video Editing: History, Theory, and Practice.

Walter Murch, 1995, In the Blink of an Eye: A perspective on Film Editing. Silman-James  Press.

Ondaatje, Michael, 2004, The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film, Knopf.

Screen:

The Conversation, (1974)  Francis Ford Coppola

Excerpts from: The English Patient (2005)Anthony Minghella, Raising Arizona (1987) Coen Brothers, The  Conformist (1971) Bertolucci, In the Mood For Love (2000) Wong Kar-Wai, The Godfather II (1974) Francis Ford Coppola

Walter Much: The rule of 6

  1. Emotion: How will this cut affect the audience emotionally at this particular moment in the film?
  2. Story: Does the edit move the story forward in a meaningful way?
  3. Rhythm: Is the cut at a point that makes rhythmic sense?
  4. Eye Trace: How does the cut effect the location and movement of the audience’s focus in that particular film?
  5. Two-Dimensional Plane of Screen: Is the axis followed properly?
  6. Three-Dimensional Space: Is the cut true to established physical and spatial relationships?

Pace, Rhythm & Timing

Comic and action pacing in Raising Arizona (very low quality clip)

The complex and subtle pacing of the assassination sequence in The Conformist.

Mood and variation of pacing in Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love (2000). This is a documentary on the film.

The Conversation (1974)

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Walter Murch on Rhythm

In Conversation with Walter Murch, Kiran Ganti

Much speaks about transitions and the role of transitions in editing.

“At the basic level, a transition is simply the process of changing from some state A to another state, B. What we should examine carefully is the degree of change, and our awareness of it. Change is happening all the time, though we are not always conscious of it. But without change there is no perception. This is somewhat of a paradox”

Walter Murch Articles

An incredible resource of articles, chapters, audio interviews and other material with Walter Murch.

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Lecture #4: CONSTRUCTING DESIRE & SCULPTING IN TIME

This week we will look at a few different elements of editing that are a part of the tradition of storytelling. Editing devices convey meaning, as does time, rhythm and the construction of point of view.

“When to Cut” is as important as “When Not to Cut”. We will look at examples in class from a number of films.

We also review some of your work from Assignment #1.

Reading:

Andrei Tarkovsky. Chapter III “Imprinted Time” in  Sculpting in Time: Tarkovsky the Great Russian Filmmaker Discusses his Art, 1989

Reshela DuPuis,  Power and Pleasure in Campion’s Piano, 1996

Christopher Llewellyn Reed,  2012, Chapter 2: “To Cut or Not To Cut” Film Editing Theory and Practice, Dulles, VA: David Pallai.

Laura Mulvey’s Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, 1975

Screen:

The Piano, 1993, Jane Campion

Excerpts from: Happiness (1999) Solondz, Rear Window (1954) Hitchcock, The Sacrifice (1989) Tarkovsky

SCENE CONSTRUCTION & COVERAGE

We will go through the key terms of coverage. Know how to shoot well and cover a scene so you can edit well.

Intro to “Happiness” by Todd Solondz (1998) shows 6 shots in the scene (2shot, OTS on Joy, OTS on Andy, CU Joy, CU Andy, Insert ashtray)

POV, Eye-line Matching & The Gaze

“Cinematic codes create a gaze, a world and an object, thereby producing an illusion cut to the measure of desire.” (Laura Mulvey 1975:16)

Rear Window (1954) Hitchcock

Eyeline Matching in Rear Window

Eyeline Matching in Star Wars

Sculpting in Time

The Sacrifice (1989) Andrei Tarkovsky

Directed By, a documentary on Tarkovsky with excerpts from his book “Sculpting in Time”

A Message to Young People from Andrei Tarkovsky

A City of Sadness, 1989, Hsiao-hsien Hou

Lecture #3: CONSTRUCTING TIME

This week we look at how time is constructed through different kinds of editing: Parallel Editing, Temporal Ellipsis and Temporal Expansion.

We also watched Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind

Click below for a few links to films we watched & discussed this week.

READ

PARALLEL ACTION

In this way of storytelling through editing, two different pieces actions are presented in fragments cutting from one to another, implying simultaneous time.  Also sometimes called Cross-Cutting.

A few classic examples are below.

Strangers on a Train (1951), Hitchcock

The Godfather (1972)

Silence of the Lambs (1991)

ELLIPTICAL EDITING

Elliptical Editing refers to omitting or cutting  out part of an event to imply time has passed. This is an easy way to make an event take less screen time than it does in reality. Often dissolves are used to signify going forward in time, or flashbacks. Also Swish Pans and wipes are used to signify a series of events.

Sometimes flashbacks can be done in straight cuts. Look at this stunning example from Oldboy.

TEMPORAL EXPANSION

This is the opposite of Elliptical editing. In this case the editing stretches out time. This is often used in action sequences. Eisenstein used expansion in several films through overlapping editing. “In October Eisenstein overlaps several shots of rising bridges in order to stress the significance of the moment.” (Bordwell 260)

Taxi Driver (1976)

In the final scene of Taxi Driver there is a mix of slow motion, long takes and freeze frames to emphasise the drama of the situation.

THE LONG TAKE

What about holding onto a moment, without cutting?  TSAI Ming-Liang is one of the contemporary masters of holding shots for even upwards of 10 minutes. Many editors talk about how holding a shot can be as important as cutting, and the importance of using intuition or as Dede Allen says ‘cutting with the gut’.

 

TSAI comes from earlier approaches such as HOU and OZU who used formal fixed cameras and long takes to create atmosphere and time.

Stray Dogs (2013), Tsai Ming-Liang

Interview with Tsai Ming-Liang & Lee Kang-Sheng

GRAPHIC & TEMPORAL RELATIONS

The Birds (1963) Fire Scene

Grading

Grading of Student Achievement

100% coursework

Each student is to complete four editing assignments that focus on different aspects of editing – action continuity, dialogue, music video, and trailer. How competent, effective and imaginative their editing performances are will be evaluated at the end of the semester.  Grading pattern: Standard (A+, A, A-…F)

Grading is based on performance in assessment tasks / activities.

In-Class Critique and Discussions

This assessment task reviews students’ participation and performance in discussions, debates and peer critique during the tutorial sessions. The evidence of ‘negotiation’, the sign of discovery, lies in students’ pre-class preparation and interpersonal sensitivity to his/her peer members.

Letter Grade

Grade Point

Grade Definitions Description
A+A

A-

4.3

4.0

3.7

Excellent – Active in-class participation, positive listening, strong ability to stimulate class discussion and comment on other points- In-depth pre-class preparation and familiarity with editing materials

– Interpret others’ views with an open mind and ready to negotiate

– Readiness to share personal insight via analysis and synthesis with informed views

– Constructively critical, thus facilitating the discovery of new issues

B+B

B-

3.3

3.0

2.7

Good – Active in-class participation, positive listening, ability to initiate class discussion and comment on other points- Adequate pre-class preparation and familiarity with editing materials

– Interpret opinions effectively

C+C

C-

2.3

2.0

1.7

Adequate – Attentive in in-class participation, listening with comprehension, but only infrequently contributing- Adequate pre-class preparation but little familiarity with editing materials

– Fair ability in interpreting opinions

D

1.0

Marginal -Unmotivated to participate in class discussion or comment on other people’s views- Little pre-class preparation and familiarity with editing materials

– Poor ability in interpreting opinions

F

0.0

Failure – Unwilling to participate in class discussion and comment on other points, even when requested by the teacher- No pre-class preparation and familiarity with editing materials

– Minimal ability in interpreting opinions

Note: All A+/A/A- grade assignment should comply with the highest performance of Discovery-oriented learning.

Editing Exercises

Students should demonstrate ability to utilize primary and secondary sources, execute creative ideas and projects. The threshold of ‘discovery’ lies in a student’s proactively turning theory into praxis, to transform course material into self-owned authorship.

Letter Grade

Grade Point

Grade Definitions Description
A+A

A-

4.3

4.0

3.7

Excellent –    Work has strong affective quality and the articulation of personal styles and signature

–    Excellent appreciation, exploration and/or application of the aesthetic and expressive qualities of the medium

–    Work raises questions and instill insights about the process of conception, creative strategization and production

–    Innovative exploration by combining knowledge from different disciplines to create an accomplished and impactful cinematic work

–    Efficient adjustment of plans and strategies in response to editing resources available with constructive adjustment

B+B

B-

3.3

3.0

2.7

Good –    Strong appreciation, exploration and/or application of the aesthetic and expressive qualities of the medium

–    Ability to create work that demonstrate the processes of thinking and creative exploration

–    Proper adjustment of plans and strategies in response to editing resources available and constructive feedback/ suggestions

C+C

C-

2.3

2.0

1.7

Adequate –    Basic appreciation and/or application of the aesthetic and expressive qualities of the medium-    Limited ability to create work that demonstrate the processes of thinking and creative exploration

–    Adjustment of plans and strategies in response to editing resources available

D

1.0

Marginal –    Marginal appreciation of the aesthetic and expressive qualities of the medium-    Marginal ability to create project/ work that demonstrate the processes of thinking and creative exploration

–    Limited adjustment of plans and strategies in response to editing resources available

F

0.0

Failure –    No appreciation of the aesthetics and expressive qualities of the medium-    Fail to create work that demonstrate the processes of thinking and creative exploration

–    Minimal adjustment of plans and strategies in response to editing resources available

Note: All A+/A/A- grade assignment should comply with the highest performance of Discovery-oriented learning.

 

Grading Scheme conversion 

A 90% to 100%
A- 81% to 89%
B+ 75% to 80%
B 70% to 74%
B- 65 % to 69%
C+ 60% to 64%
C 55% to 59%
D 50% to 54%
F 48% to 0%

Assignment # 2: SHOOT FOR THE EDIT

In Assignment #2, your task is to interpret, or reinterpret, a scene.

Basic scene construction, action continuity, graphic editing, construction of time and space should be applied and practiced in this exercise.

Choose an existing scene of film rushes that will be available in the Common Share folder.

Final assignments should be an interpretation of the scene provided in the source material.

Remember — get to the heart of the scene and use some of the various editing techniques we have discussed thus far.

It’s not enough to just follow the timeline of the event as you think it should happen — Create tension in the scene, choose the best takes, give it pace and rhythm, and use your editing skills to make the material shine.

 

Bank Robbers Part I & II

Listen to Roger Ebert discuss approaches to editing the Bank Robbers scene.

Lecture #2: CONTINUITY EDITING & THE HISTORY OF EDITING II

This week we look at some of the basic concepts that developed the language and grammar of film editing. We spend a bit of time talking about Sergei Eisenstein and his theories around editing, and some of the innovations and experiments that were happening in the early period of film history.

The second half of the lecture we learn about technical aspects of Continuity Editing.

In the workshop this week we start shooting our Action Continuity Assignment in groups to prepare to for the edit next week.

Click on the links below for films we watched & discussed this week.

READ

  • Film Form: Essays in Film Theory, by Sergei Eisenstein, Edited and translated by Jay Leyda, Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc, 1949, New York. Selections from Chapters 1, 4 & 6

We  watched the first section of  The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing available in the Run Run Shaw Media Library.

HISTORY of EDITING II

Kuleshov Effect

Eisenstein the Father of Montage

This is a great link to explain visually Eisenstein’s five methods of montage: Metric, Rhythmic, Tonal, Over Tonal and Intellectual.

Odessa Steps sequence from Battleship Potemkin

Odessa sequence cut together with the homage from The Untouchables by Brain DePalma

EXPERIMENTS IN CINEMA

Dziga Vertov, The Man with the Movie Camera (1929)
“This film is famous for the range of cinematic techniques Vertov invents, deploys or develops, such as double exposure, fast motion, slow motion, freeze frames, jump cuts, split screens, Dutch angles, extreme close-ups, tracking shots, footage played backwards, stop motion animations and a self-reflexive style.”

Cinematic Orchestra track “Awakening of a Woman” set to Man with a Movie Camera

Luis Bunuel, Un Chien Andalou (1929)

ACTION CONTINUITY

180 Degree rule, explained with clips

Breaking down the 180 Degree rule

Shot Reverse Shot example

Match on Action

Filmmaking Tutorial: 180 Degree Rule and Other Shot Sequence Tips