Join Norman Hollyn for an in-depth discussion in this video Exploring the history of editing, part of Foundations of Video: The Art of Editing.
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Norman: Film making is all wrapped up in editing, but it wasn't always that way. Early films which could not be recorded with sound were nothing more than recordings of stage performances. In some early films, the camera never moved, never panned, never dollied. There were no cuts. In this piece from an early Pathe Brothers film, the camera doesn't even follow the circus animals or performers when they move out of frame. At least they got all the actors in the frame in later films of theirs.
Now in an early Lumière Brothers film, the Arrival of a Train from 1895, audiences were content to just watch a train pull into a station and, without any cuts, watch people get on and off the cars. It didn't take long for those early film makers to start experimenting with something beyond those medium stage shots. In this short, the big swallow from around 1901, the actor moved towards the camera, creating a closeup.
In fact, an extreme closeup. Which must have felt quite scary to those early audiences. So, here's the thing. As they learned the medium better and better, they wanted to tell more and more, complicated stories. They couldn't treat is simply like a stage play, they used the advantage of the camera to move to different places. In this 1906 film The Motorist, which was an early comedy fantasy film directed by Walter Booth, a policeman ends up chasing a car which has run him over.
It goes up a building and eventually ends up driving around the rings of Saturn. In order to tell this story properly, the director needed to cut pieces together to take us from one location to another, this was big. It wasn't long before an American, Edwin S. Porter, figured out how to combine that idea of a close-up and the idea of editing different shots together and created an end to his movie, The Great Train Robbery, which apparently drove audiences crazy. The film is mostly those same wide shots which tell the story of a group of bandits who rob a train and are chased by a posse.
The shots go on very, very long by today's standards but at the very end, Porter cut to a medium shot of a bandit who raises his gun, points it straight at the camera, and fires six times. That shot changed cinema to such a degree that several filmmakers have included shots in their films as an homage to it. Martin Scorsese in Goodfellas, for instance, or even the title sequences in James Bond films. But what it did.
Was set the stage for the idea that the camera could move around and create different sized shots that could be attached to each other to create a very specific reaction from the audience. And that is the foundation of everything that we will learn in this course. To get a very specific reaction from an audience. Attaching different angles and different shots to each other will always effect an audience. And this is what those early film making pioneers discovered.
Now it's time for us to discover just how we can control how the audience reacts to our films. And that, my friends, is the foundation of great film making.
Start with an overview of concepts like the rule of threes, review a sampling of footage from films past and present, and then dive into script analysis. Find out when and when not to make cuts, how to collaborate with clients and directors during recutting, and how to ground the emotional backdrop for your piece with music and sound. Norman closes with a look at adapting to different genres and filmic styles.
- Exploring the history of video editing
- Controlling what the audience sees
- Identifying the logline
- Performing script and scene analysis
- Coming up with an editing plan
- Cutting from on-camera to off-camera action
- Understanding the value of recutting
- Shaping moments with music
- Working in a specific genre
- Mixing editing styles together