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  • Top 5 Books Every Editor Should Read About Editing

    Top 5 Books Every Editor Should Read About Editing

    May 6, 2010, 12:16 pm
    The number one thing that I get asked by my readers is "do you have any suggestions for newbie editors?" Well, yes I have many, but my most important suggestion is to read up on your theory. In my relatively short experience in the professional industry I’ve encountered many students and other indie filmmakers who know how to use the tools, but can’t figure out why their films don’t compete well with the same types of films out there using the same tools. I’ve found that most of what those generic film schools/polytechnics lack is a solid theory foundation in its curriculum. It’s one thing to know the tools (Final Cut, Avid, etc); anyone can learn to use the blade tool to cut a scene. But it’s a whole other (much more important) thing to know what to do with them. What will help to make you stand out among the thousands of other "editors" who just bought/downloaded software and learned how to use it? Knowing why you make the cuts you make.

    5. The Elements of Drawing, John Ruskin

    Ok, this obviously isn’t directly about editing, but to be a well-rounded editor you have to have a basic foundation in certain other concepts that on the surface don’t seem that important. One of these indirectly related concepts is design composition. Originally published in 1857, this book draws on the fundamentals of drawing and composing a picture, and all of its lessons still stand up today in the digital era (because you can apply solid theory to any tools). Why is knowing the basics of design composition important for editing? While you as the editor may not have a tonne of control over a particular shot’s composition, you have control over where the eye goes next. If you can use good composition control in your editing, then you can control what the viewer is paying attention to. This could help to save a poorly shot film, or help to make a well-shot film stand out from among the Hollywood biggies. Even if you can’t draw, or have no interest in drawing, you should understand what it’s trying to say.
    4. Sculpting in Time, Andrei Tarkovsky

    This is known as the "anti-editor" book, but as you learn in your high school debate class (hopefully) in order to make a good argument you have to know both sides in and out. Really the only thing "anti" about it is Tarkovsky’s vehement hatred of rapid-cut editing, which for him, takes out the true artistic nature of film. Less is more— I drew on this a bit in the last article about long takes. Similarly, a good editor knows when to let the film "breathe." He also touches on what I personally consider to be the other indirectly related concept that hovers over being a good film editor, and that is rhythm. A good picture edit can be "heard" in the same way that music can, thanks to a cutting rhythm.
    3. Cutting Rhythms: Shaping the Film Edit, Karen Pearlman

    Ah, finally a book about editing! Or so it would seem by the title. This book is less about the cut and more about eye movement across the screen, and in the same way that I point you towards music and design composition theory as a foundation, Pearlman points you towards movement and dance theories before getting to the nitty gritty of cutting. Hopefully you are seeing a trend here. She also writes in such a way that is both practical and easy to digest without sounding too much like a textbook.
    2. In the Blink of an Eye, Walter Murch

    Murch is one of the modern-day leaders and influencers of film editing technique, and because he is so popular as well as current (films he’s edited aren’t just movies you watch in film school, they are on most people’s DVD racks) it would make sense to put this one up. It also makes sense to put this book here because it’s genuinely a great read, and if you ever want insight into what makes Murch the most recognizable and universally known editor that he is, then all you need to do is read this book. He lays it all out, technique by technique, with a reason for each one.
    1. Film Form and Film Sense, Sergei Eisenstein

    If editing is your religion, then these two books are your bibles. I bring up Eisenstein’s montage theory a lot in this blog, and if you’ve ever wondered what the heck I was referring to, it was these two books (well... essays, really). In film school, they beat you over the head with Eisenstein, and if they don’t, then it’s not a real film school. So do yourself a favour and read these if you haven’t already. It is thanks to Eisenstein that we have a film language, and if you go back and visually dissect the films cut by the most successful editors throughout history, you will see that Eisenstein’s theory is all over it.

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  • Other Postings By Member
    • Light Sabre Battles! (v)
      EDITING

      Light Sabre Battles! (v)

      January 18, 2012, 3:00 pm
      As an interesting note, it was conveniently blocked by FOX just as the internet is on blackout strike today in solidarity against SOPA. American friends, please be aware that if SOPA passes, videos like this where I attempt to teach about film editing in a fun way will not be available anymore, even if I am in compliance with the Fair Use clause— in fact, I could be shut down, fined, and/or jailed without due process. If you like the internet and the ability to find information freely and easily, please educate yourself about this bill, and do whatever you can to stop it from passing!

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    • Top 5 Marx Brothers Films
      EDITING

      Top 5 Marx Brothers Films

      January 4, 2012, 1:19 pm
      First EDL of the new year up! Marx brothers, see? nyaah!

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    • Top 5 Moment of Despair Scenes in a Xmas film (v)
      EDITING

      Top 5 Moment of Despair Scenes in a Xmas film (v)

      December 14, 2011, 4:44 pm
      Have a video version of my very first Christmas blog, the best edited Moments of Despair in a Christmas film!

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    • Top 5 Scenes With a Steam Engine
      EDITING

      Top 5 Scenes With a Steam Engine

      November 30, 2011, 11:29 am
      Check out this week's EDL, featuring the top 5 edited scenes with steam engines!

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    • Top 5 Edited Dinosaur Attack Scenes!
      EDITING

      Top 5 Edited Dinosaur Attack Scenes!

      November 16, 2011, 1:28 pm
      I know I've covered this one in the past, but with the new video format I feel like I can really do some of previous written blogs justice. This one especially!

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    • Top 5 Scenes on a Mountaintop
      EDITING

      Top 5 Scenes on a Mountaintop

      November 3, 2011, 1:54 pm
      Vlog number 3! Scenes on a mountain. See my epic climbing skills (not)...

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    • Top five scenes in a Mad Max film!
      EDITING

      Top five scenes in a Mad Max film!

      October 19, 2011, 1:19 pm
      In Vlog number 2 of the Edit Decision List, I look at the best edited scenes in a Mad Max Movie, as well as manage to completely butcher an Australian accent.

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    • Top 5 Edited Die Hard Scenes
      EDITING

      Top 5 Edited Die Hard Scenes

      October 5, 2011, 12:07 pm
      My very first vlog covers the top 5 scenes in a Die Hard movie!

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    • Top 5 edited scenes in Metropolis
      EDITING

      Top 5 edited scenes in Metropolis

      September 21, 2011, 4:25 pm
      Metropolis is one of the most influential science fiction films of all time, and it's obvious that the editing has a lot to do with it. The expressive nature of the acting is superbly juxtaposed with epically framed shots in such a way that story isn't only easy to follow, but really fun to watch!

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    • Top 5 Back to the Future Scenes
      EDITING

      Top 5 Back to the Future Scenes

      September 7, 2011, 12:16 pm
      Great scott! I must've blown a hole in the space-time continuum with my 1.21 "Jiggawatt" blog entry…

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