The Editor, Unsung Hero of Great Storytelling

The editor: a job that if done well goes unnoticed. To be a good editor, one must feel the rhythm of a scene, be able to convey seamless emotion, and convince you, the viewer, of the truth unfolding on the screen. In this super-cut by Every Frame a Painting, the job of the editor is broken down by example. The greatest scenes in cinema would be lifeless without the masterful and instinctual slicing and splicing made by the editor.

“There is an in-built relationship between the story itself and the rhythm by which you tell it,” says noted Editor Walter Murch. “Editing is 70% about rhythm,” he estimates. The greatest storytellers can use this principle of rhythm to draw you into the story. Predominantly in the smallest nuances of life portrayed on screen, the flow of the editor’s cut is what allows you to enter the world created. It is an instinct: knowing when to cut at the right moment and when to wait. “One of the things Marty has always encouraged me to do is to hold the scene just a little too long,” remembers Thelma Shoonmaker from working with famed director Martin Scorsese. Each decision to hold or cut can have dramatically different effects on the viewer.

A great editor considers many great questions. How is the emotion playing out? How many frames does a specific feeling need? Considering each and every move of the story being told allows room for a viewer to enter the world being depicted. The editor operates on instinct; it’s a natural process of knowing when to cut. The best editors are the ones that can feel the story. So, If editing is so instinctual, how do you learn it? Every Frame a Painting answers this question and will change the way you consider your favorite films.

[via Every Frame A Painting]


Comment from web: When to cut and when to keep rolling! I just come back for youtube watching the new Tony Zhou’s video essay and I find this article ! Such a great way to continue the conversation ! Thank you ! So I will to this sentence of yours : “It is an instinct: knowing when to cut at the right moment and when to wait”. It shows us how much an editing is personal. Some people are focussing of moving the plot forward to tell their story and some are more contemplative filling no shame to old their shots. A very good exemple of that is the video essay : What is neorealism ?




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