written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 1/26/2011
Here are some tips to follow when you are new to film editing.
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Film Editing Principles
Film editing is where the film you are producing really comes together. The actual physical production process is really used to create the pieces that you then construct during your film editing process, allowing it to come together according to the script, outline, or vision as interpreted by the director. Film editing is really a complicated and involved art form that requires lots of practice and study, but there are some basic film editing tips that you can start out with that will always remain true when you are working on projects. Here are some basic film editing tips that you can follow when you are starting out.
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In most situations you are looking for what is called "invisible" editing. This is the most classic form of editing that came to dominance out of the narrative Hollywood system of early film. The film editing principles at play here state that the actual editing of the film itself should not be obvious to the audience, or they at least should not be focused on it. In narrative film editing, and in most other types as well, you want the audience to focus in on the manufactured reality of the film and not the series of cuts that you use. What this means is that you want to cut together your scenes according to the flow that those scenes have in them, which has you cut between those speaking and present scenes so that the audience becomes immersed in the filmic process. This film editing principle really asks you to not over edit your film and to make sure the choices you make are motivated by the mood and presence of the images you are working with.
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Checking Clip Arrangement
It may seem obvious, but one of the basic film editing tips that you should follow is to have the video and audio clips flow together as well as you can. This means that you want to avoid any lapse between clips, and kind of start and start "pops" in the audio, and places where you missed the proper cut away. This means that you want to spend the time necessary to work on how each clip works together, applying fades to audio clips when they come in and out, and making sure that the timing is correct between the clips. Getting the right interaction between each piece of media is going to allow the continuity of the scene to be the primary focus for the audience.
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There are basic film editing principles that are based around transitions, both between individual clips and between scenes. Traditionally, you do not use visual transitions in the middle of a scene. Transitions, such as fades, are not used even between most scenes. A "fade out and fade in" tend to mark both a change in location and in time. A cross-fade, which fades from one image to another, indicates at least a change in location, but often continuity from the previous scene in a consistent time frame. You do not want to overuse these transitions and you will want to avoid animated transitions as these are often too obvious, violate invisible editing, and tend to look amateur in most situations.