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One of the story elements that you have total control of as the editor is the pacing of the cuts. And man, what a difference that they make. Here are two clips from "Night of the Living Dead." Here is the first clip here and we are going to watch this. Notice how often that we cut from shot to shot. (Female speaker: 6 o'clock and it's still light!) (Male speaker: A lot of good the extra daylight does us.) (Male speaker: Now we've still got a 3-hour drive back. We're not going to be home until after midnight.) Actually, I'll just go ahead and keep scrubbing this. But notice there is no cuts yet, no change in clips, no change in clips, and like that's it.
That entire shot was almost 27 seconds long. This is before any zombies happen at the beginning of the movie. Nothing scary yet. So 27 seconds, which is a really long time for a single cut. Now contrast that with later in the movie when they are getting attacked by zombies. Notice all the cuts here. (Music playing) (Female speaker: I'm going with them!) (Male speaker: Get back in the cellar!) (Female speaker: I'm going!) (Male speaker: It's too late!) (Music playing) So here in even a less period of time we have far more cuts.
Some of them only lasting a split-second. And so we are constantly cutting. And this makes it feel a lot more intense. Just like the speed of the cuts. How many cuts are coming per second or per minute? Much faster. Again, what this is doing is its kind of mimicking what's happening with the human heart. Like in the beginning our heartbeat is slow. Nothing much going on, everything is normal. But at the end, our heart rate is supposed to be up. It supposed to be beating a little bit more intensely. So that's what's happening here with the speed of the cuts. So again, as we go from frame to frame here, we go and then he looks back and there is a cut of her exiting the door.
A couple of seconds later, there is a cut of him turning his head. And there's only a few frames of that. Another cut of him closing the door. Another cut of her turning her head and another cut in just a second of his face again. So we are constantly cutting, cutting, cutting, cutting. And again, it's that frenetic pace that makes you just feel really on the edge of your seat. Again, the editor has total control of the pacing and the speed of the movie, which is very important.
Also, one other thing, you want to keep in mind your audience. Here is a clip from "Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter." And I am just going to play this without the audio on and talk over it. Notice how long this shot goes on. This movie was made in the 60s, and again it goes on and on and on and on and on without a cut. So it goes on over a minute long which is almost unheard of in movies today. So you need to take into consideration the audience that you are speaking to.
If you were making a piece for National Geographic, then you could have longer cuts. You could have cuts that are 10 seconds long and that's okay, because the audience could pay attention. But if you are making something for MTV, you need to speed up the pace of those cuts. If you've ever watched something on MTV, the cuts only last a few seconds apiece or maybe even a split-second, because people that are watching have a very short attention span. So if you are having a younger audience, then you want to keep their interest and their excitement by doing what "Night of the Living Dead" did, where you are constantly moving, you are constantly changing. But if you have an older audience, you can just take your time a little bit, because they have a little bit longer of an attention span.
You might find exceptions to this. Like your grandma might get bored really easily and you might be able to sit and watch a two-minute sequence without a cut and be fine with it. But that is the general rule.
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