Rhythm in film/editing
Ive heard this term used in books and in a few places here and there and was wondering what excactly it is referring too as it seems to be one of the most vague terms there is.
Whenever I edit I try to keep it all to a consistent pace/tempo to create a certain mood or feel relevant to the subject matter (I cut promos and weddings at the moment, did one for National trust parks and one for the NHS a while back), and then change the cutting speed here and there if you want to make it more exciting etc, and making cuts flow flow together, and also just intuitively knowing where to cut, things like that.
Also in terms of film elements such as colour correction would the rhythm would just be the consistency between shots?
Ive heard people say to be a great editor you need rhythm, and I understand it in terms of music and design (repetition) but for film it seems all a bit vague, could someone on here tell me what is being refered to?
Bruce Blocks "The Visual Story" has an excellent chapter explaining this.
In a nutshell, you think about how long to hold a rhythm and when to disrupt it. Remember though that it doesn't necessarily refer to the moments where your cuts happen; its more to do with what's going on inside the scene, (but also to do with the cuts.)
Watch any Sergio Leone western and pay attention to rhythm especially in moments of tension.
Timing is ther most important thing in asking a chick out, comedy, and editing. If it has to be explained to you, you should go into accoutning. If it never has been required an explaination, rock on and enjoy your career in post.
Ive pretty much relied on my intuition for that sort of stuff anyway and no one has complained yet so I must be ok myself
"Ask me what the first rule of comedy is, go on."
"OK, what's the..."
I think when we talk about a visual rhythm, we're talking about setting up a pattern, either overt or subconscious, that sets up viewer expectations, then playing with that expectation, to create a moment that surprises the viewer. Like I did in that joke, above. It is startling and surprising, because the punchline came earlier than your expectation as a straight man. It broke the expected pattern. An example from making TV commercials and promos is the unexpected return of a few more seconds of visual at the end of a commercial/promo, after you've seen what looks like an end title graphic and a fade to black. Your mind was already moving towards an expectatino of the next subject to come up, some other commercial or the program, but BAM, here's one more punchline from the previous sequence, surprise.
You don't always have to break a pattern, you can also help create one where there wasn't one. The human brain and visual system is designed around detecting and decoding patterns and changes in patterns, and it is expecting a steady evolution of time in a linear progression of one second per second. So the way we lengthen or shorten shots, and the way we sequence them, cues the mind to interpret the information in a certain way, emphasizing some features, de-emphasizing others.
That's really pedantic stuff this early on a Monday, so I'd better stop there.
Editing isn't the most important part of the movie.
IT IS THE MOVE!
You can also read acting books to contribute to how an editor creates pace and rhythm in the edit. We editors get a Wide Shot, a Medium Shot, and a Close Up shot of the same few lines. By understanding what subtext is and acting beats, editors can manipulate the performance. Cutting to the close up on the dramatic beat in the scene. Or cutting to the wide shot for a punch line, followed by CU of reactions.
It took me years and years to get a handle on where I got my rhythm.
Clients would refer to my 'rhythm', composers would, all sorts of film people would and did. It took me back into my childhood and the car trips I took with my family, I was a day dreamer and gazed out the windows and have come to realize, and accept, that the fence posts, telegraph poles, road markings were my metronomes, they embedded into my psyche a sense of timing and, dare I say 'RHYTHM'. When I landed in the film world, no books, no film school, nothing but practice and the encouragement by my editor, to attend film festivals. I grew up with NO television! Whew! For 13 years straight I attended the Sydney Film Festival. That was the best suggestion anyone ever made. Trust and understanding of the intuitive process is a must but above all is, same as for a chef, a pianist, a drunk even :), practice, practice, practice! I took any project offered me, good money, no money. I edited day and night. When I started my editing company I edited docs at night, commercials by day, all on FILM.
That was key.
Film has a rhythm all of it's own, it's own language and a good editor will find and understand that language, bringing it to life. Standing at a Moviola with a hand on the fly wheel and one on the hand brake, boy did I get to practice my rhythm. I love standing at my desk today, editing with FCP, standing, not sitting. It is quite different. These are simply my thoughts after watching a great Documentary on New York Photographer, Bill Cunningham. Another key element I learned was, once the edit was close to finish, rewind, and play the image with no sound at all, that will tell you loud and clear if it has rhythm, period. I have used this for 10 second to 2 hour films. Still works for me.
Richard Clark's kiwicafe.com
Film | Photography | Writing
Aotearoa aka New Zealand