Editing refers to the coordination of one shot with the next shot editing

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EDITING - refers to the coordination of one shot with the next shot

editing – (AmE) stress on continuity vs. montage – (European) exploration of contrast and clash
Transitions (1,2, and 3 gradual, 4 more abrupt)

  1. FADES, fade-in: a dark screen that gradually brightens as a shot appears; fade-out: a shot that gradually darkens as the screen goes black.

  2. DISSOLVE: a transition between 2 shots during which shot B gradually appears as shot A gradually disappears

  3. WIPE: a transition between shots in which a line passes across the screen, eliminating shot A and replacing it with shot B

  4. CUT: An instantaneous change from shot A to shot B


A. GRAPHIC RELATIONS involve editing on the basis of purely pictorial qualities of the two shots (interaction of similarity and difference)

  1. If shots are linked by noticeable (not necessarily exact) similarities, we refer to this similarity as a graphic match (match by composition, 4 elements of mise-en-scene, etc.)

  2. Shots may be matched graphically, or may clash graphically

B. RHYTHMIC RELATIONS refer to the relative screen duration of the shots (duration of each shot can be controlled). The patterning of shot lengths may profoundly contribute to what we intuitively understand as film rhythm (other elements also create rhythm: movement in the mise-en-scene, camera position and movement, the rhythm of the sound, the overall context etc.).

C. SPATIAL RELATIONS – editing used to create film space (for example allows omniscience)

Building space, two common strategies:

  • shot determining a spatial whole and than showing pieces (details in close-up)

  • entire space created from details

  1. Establishing shot

  2. Kuleshov effect (Shot 1 canon firing, Shot 2 shell exploding)

  3. Crosscutting – constructs a variety of places (action taking place simultaneously in two (often distant from each other) places observed).

  4. Ambiguous space – orientation is purposefully obscured

D. TEMPORAL RELATIONS – control of the time of action denoted in the film by manipulation of several factors:

1. Order of story events:

a) “chronological” sequence b) flashbacks c) flashforwards

2. Duration of story events (needs to be controlled to make the film more interesting

  • Temporal ellipsis – omission of events, less time on screen than in the story (taxi ride, plane: taking off / landing)

  • Punctuation” shot (wipe, dissolve, or fade)

  • Empty frames (staircase)

  • Cutaway – a shot of another event elsewhere that will not last as long as the elided action (man climbing – cut to a woman waiting – man continuing his climbing but advanced)

  • Expansion (opposite of ellipsis) of duration may be accomplished through the use of overlapping editing

3. Frequency of story events. One shot or sequence of shots may be shown several times (to heighten tension, illustrate obsessive thoughts etc.).


editing – primary means of constructing the film, but potentially disruptive. If badly controlled may divert spectator’s attention. In order to avoid it a system of conventions was developed: continuity editing also known as ”invisible editing” (designed to emphasize the story, ensures narrative continuity, story seems coherent)

graphics: kept similar from shot to shot; rhythmic relations usually will not be emphasized; spatial and temporal relations are important.
►►► The 180’ degree system

  1. Mise-en-scene and camera placement are arranged to establish and sustain an imaginary line, or axis of action

  2. The line or axis is generally determined by the position of the two main characters in the shot

  3. 180’ rule dictates that the camera may not CUT from 1 side of the line to the other

  4. Functions of the 180’ rule:

    • Ensures some common space from shot to shot

    • Ensures constant screen direction

    • Clearly delineates space

Shot/reverse shot

Cutting from one end of the line to the other, back and forth. Used especially in conversations often keeps the shoulder of one character in the shot of the other
Eyeline match; this is a way to create the impression of spatial continuity when two characters are not in the same shot

1. Shot A shows a person looking offscreen, shot B shows us what is being looked at

2. In neither shot are both looker and object shown.

Establishment / breakdown / reestablishment

  1. Space is established with a long shot (an ESTABLISHING SHOT)
  2. Space is broken down with closer shots, showing characters and their reactions

  3. Space is reestablished with a long shot

Match on action

  1. Shot A shows the beginning of a movement

  2. Shot B shows the continuation of that same action, with at least a 30’ shift in the camera position

Cheat cut: Imperfect continuity from 1 shot to the next

1. In the CUT events are usually presented in chronological order

2. Only exception is the flashback (or flashforward; rare)

a. Signalled by a cut or dissolve

b. Motivated by the narrative


  1. Events almost always happen only once

  2. If events are repeated

  • They are motivated by the narrative (flashback of something we have already seen)

  • They are signalled by a cut or dissolve

Duration - often varies

1. Plot time is rarely longer than story time (plot time > story time)

2. Usually in complete continuity (plot time = story time) or most often story time is omitted (plot time < story time)

a. Time can be omitted within scenes

b. However, scenes are often in continuity, with time omitted between scenes

3. montage sequence: A segment of a film that compresses a passage of time into brief symbolic or typical images


Often stress graphic relations (as in the avant-garde, some musicals, etc.) Or rhythmic relations (early French and Soviet cinema)

Some film makers (Ozu, Tati) use a 360’ spatial system

Some other violations of the continuity system include

The jump cut - created by

1. Less than 30’change in camera position between cuts

2. OR the omission of a small number of frames

The nondiegetic insert; a shot outside the space of the narrative

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