Film Editing

Watch the following clip from “The Fighter.” Pause each time the shot changes and describe the individual shot, making sure to take

notes about the camera angle, shot, and composition, but also how the shot transitions to the next one. Does the editor use

shot/reverse shot, cutting on action, graphic matching, etc.?

For this assignment, make sure to include your list of each shot and your notes. After your list, write a short essay (500 words MAX)

describing what you notice about the sequence. What kind of editing techniques are used? Is there a connection between the editing and

what is happening in the scene? Does it reflect a character/characters? How does it contribute to the mood/tone of the scene?
A Brief History of Film Editing

A transition is a film editing technique in which one shot is connected to the following shot. There are several kinds of film

transitions. The most common are:
• Cut – transition from one shot to another with no effect.
• Fade-In – transition from black to the image.
• Fade-Out – transition from the image to black.
• Dissolve – gradual transition from one shot to the next.
• Wipe – transition from one shot to the next using an effect (often a line).
• Iris-In – a form of wipe in which the next shot is introduced via a shape (usually a circle) at the center of the frame.
• Iris-Out – a form of wipe in which the shot is concluded via a shape (usually a circle) at the center of the frame.

Functions of Transitions
• Indicate the passage of time.
o a cut shows no passage of time, whereas a dissolve or fade indicates time has passed in between shots.
Help set the mood of the film.
Can guide the audience’s eye to a particular object or character.
Creates a rhythm for a sequence or scene.

Film editors cut together indivudual shots into longer scenes and sequences.
A scene is made up of actions that occur in one location during one period of time.
In film, scenes are defined by location and time.

A sequence is made up of actions that occur in one location over several periods of time, or in several locations during one period of


When moving from one scene to the next, editors use all traditional editing transitions (cut, dissolve, fade in, etc.) and
Cross-cutting – an editing technique that shows two (or more) lines of actions happening at the same time, but in different places.

Also known as parallel editing.
In this scene from, “Inception,” the storyline cuts between the dreamworld and real world.

Functions of Cross-Cutting
• Can create suspense
• Emotional appeal
• Contrasts very different actions/situations
• Used for phone conversations to show both people speaking
• Editing used to condense or expand space, time, or an action.
• Clips are usually set to music.
• Used to tell the audience information. Almost never used to convey emotion.
This short montage from the film, “Ghostbusters,” shows the audience the growth of the company over a period of time.

Editing between a variety of shots while keeping the action uninterrupted.
Matching on Action: Physical action in one shot continues into the next shot.

Eye-Line Matching: The gaze of the character is used to determine the camera placement of the following shot.

Shot/Reverse Shot: One character looking at another off-screen, then the shot cuts to that character. (Type of Eye-Line Matching)

Graphic Matching: Matching shapes or colors from one shot to the next.
(Just watch the first 10 seconds of the clip)

180 Degree Rule: You must keep the camera on one side of the 180 degree line in order to maintain continuity between shots.

When continuity is not maintained, it disrupts the viewer’s attention and experience. A cut that creates a lack of continuity by

leaving out parts of the action is called a Jump Cut.

Continuity Errors!

Film Editing

Page 8 of 13

Film Editor Christopher Rouse on The Bourne Ultimatum

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