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Re: The Art of Editing: Sometimes we worry too much about technical things.

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Iain Kitching
Re: The Art of Editing: Sometimes we worry too much about technical things.
on Jul 21, 2010 at 10:57:38 am

I think any editor focusses on technicals until those technical issues become second nature and that's the point where the 'skill' becomes a 'craft' I guess; when the machine disappears and becomes an 'extension' of your hands. It took me a few years!

With regard to effects, often I hear editors bemoaning the use of them in any situation. 'I don't know how to use an Animatte and I'm proud' or 'I never use dissolves'. It annoys me that such wide reaching statements are thought to indicate a purer editing style. I rarely use dissolves but now and again they are absolutely the correct choice. Anyone who's watched the opening to 'Apocalypse Now' or the night driving sections of 'Taxi Driver' must agree. Why limit your palette with hard and fast rules? Anything goes!

Having said that I spend most of my time in an edit making sure the story structure and narrative work and that the emotion and rhythm are correct for the moment. I'm always amazed when editors suggest they don't focus on narrative, that this is somehow the director's job. Ridiculous! There are thousands of years of knowledge regarding narrative - we should all be studying!

I can see why yourself Jerry and others might fear that the next generation are not interested in anything other than the technical side and it's a noble post to draw attention to that (and if you took a poll it may well be true!)... However, I consider myself in that next generation and my bible lies not with a manual but somewhere between Murch's 'In the Blink of an Eye' and Booker's 'The Seven Basic Plots'! I use all of my understanding of narrative in every edit I do. From corporate to drama.

I loved your posting though and generally think that there should be more Creative in The Cow. One thing I would question is your definition of going to the movies as 'two hours of escape' - right now hundreds of millions of people are telling stories to each other and as a race we've been telling them for millions of years... got to be more than escapism surely.

One final point... Greengrass' obsession with wobbling the camera during boardroom scenes is off the scale, particularly in 'Bourne Ultimatum'. I totally agree with you about this. If the operator wouldn't do it normally, don't try and force excitement onto the drama from outside the scene. It draws attention to the camera! The poor editor had to work with that. A perfect example of a superficial trick ruining the emotion.

Anyway, I've outstayed my welcome a lot! Good post sir.

"The film's dramatic requirements
should always take precedence
over the mere aesthetics of editing."

- Edward Dmytryk

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