“For a writer, its a word. For a composer or a musician its a note. For an editor or a filmmaker, its a frame.” (Quentin Tarantino)

The topic of this week’s lecture was Video: it’s multitasking. The lecture was definitely deserving of the name after a busy week of shooting and editing.

It’s amazing (and sometimes frustrating) how music, natural sound, ambient sound, narration and images need to work together to create a cohesive and powerful piece. If a film is edited in a way that clashes with the videographer’s intended message (imagine a home video of your sweet grandmother’s 80th birthday paired with the jaws theme song in the background) the result is jarring and ineffective piece.

Here are some examples in which editing can compliment the subject matter: 

If you have ever seen the film “Sunshine” then you probably remember that the visuals are incredible. The film’s final scene,  (where a nuclear bomb makes contact with the sun) is a great example of how music and natural sound can work together to give the audience the feeling of ‘being in the moment.’

As the bomb speeds towards the sun, it’s force is apparent with an ever-increasing, pulsing hum. The natural sound, the buzzing, snapping, popping become louder and more frequent as the sun’s radiation reacts violently with nuclear atoms.

In the final seconds, there is a magical silence that takes over. Time slows,  and each atom appears to explode into whimsical, beautiful, star-like bursts.

Without warning, the scene switches back real-time, a wave of fire engulfs everything in it’s reach.

The film’s music sounds the way  that the images look – incredibly powerful, yet soft and understated- almost passes by without notice.

When sun and the bomb finally collide, a blanket of the brightest, purest white you can imagine covers everything. I don’t know how they do it, but if I closed my eyes, the music sounded as blinding as my TV screen looked. It was beautiful. It was moving. It was effective.

Another example of effective video editing is the boat tour scene in The Life Aquatic with Steve ZissouWes Anderson, the film’s director, chose to familiarize the audience with the submarine’s layout in a way that compliments the character of the movie whilst setting a precedent of unconventional storytelling.

Like a child’s dollhouse, the boat has been sliced in half, exposing each room. As the camera pans from one room to the next, the main character, Mr. Zissou, acts as a tour guide, traveling seamlessly with the audience throughout the ship.  

A big portion of Monday’s lecture focused on “rules” to follow when shooting video.However… I am a big fan of the phrase “rules are meant to be broken.” That is why I have included this last example.  I feel that it breaks some of these rules, albeit in a very effective way.

 

This clip is a scene from the film Requiem for a Dream. A couple is lying in bed, talking face-to-face and caressing each other. The screen is split between two tight shots of each person. Here is where it breaks the rules: many of the split shots don’t line up perfectly. This technique makes the shots look like a jump cut.

But… instead of taking away from the effectiveness of the scene (like jump cuts usually do) it adds to it. The split screen allows the viewer to observe the intimacy and emotion that exists between the characters. And the two tight shots, lined up side by side, allow the audience to focus closely on a part of each character, but at the same time.

I think that sometimes talented filmmakers know when to break them. Knowing when and how is something that I’ll gain with experience. However, at the moment I am thankful for guidelines.  Without some rule in place, newbies like me would probably be lost.

I’m looking forward to the day when I can break the rules and the result will be refreshing one opposed to a jarring one for my audience. After all I’ve learned this week, I think it’s safe to say that when in good taste, rules are made to be… edited.

 

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