Today in our 160MC lecture, we had a talk about the power of editing, and how it can change the way the audience receives the text. We saw a video from Alfred Hitchcock, talking about how what you edit into a sequence can change the way you relate to a character, one simple change can make a character go from friendly to horrible. It actually showed me just how important editing is, I knew it was a key part of the filmmaking process, but it goes to show just how much relies on having a good editor by your side to the make the film as good as it can be.
We’ve been given two videos to talk about editing wise, the first one is a video called Porcelain Unicorn.
The first shot of this video is one that instantly grabs the audiences attention. We are instantly wanting to know who the man is, what’ s in the box, where are we, where are we going? The scene then cuts to the man holding a post it note with an address on it. The editing of these two scenes, even though they are both short and at the beginning of the video, set up an instant enigma for the audience, who have been dropped into the video without any explanation of what is going on, but the little bits of the story that the editing has given us enoucrages us to keep watching so that we find out. The next shot shows the man who we are following, introducing the audience to the main character of the video. He then goes on to look for the house that he has the address to, which he then finds. The fact that the editing has meant that the narrative hasn’t started from a linear beginning, but has placed the audience in the middle of the narrative means that theories such as Todorovs don’t really apply, as we seem to have been placed near the end of this structure, the recognition of the protagonist that he must do something to fix the earlier disruption. The fact that all this has taken place within the first 24 seconds of the 3 minute video shows just how well editing can move a piece of film along, we as the audience have gone from the initial enigma to finding some of the facts out within half a minute.
We cut to a flashback, obvious by the fact that the colour tone has become more slightly more sepia, which everyone knows means that we’ve gone back in time. The editing of this scene makes it obvious to the audience that the child we are focused on is the same person as the old man from the beginning of the video. The editing also focuses on the characters reaction to what is happening, such as when the cupboard door opens, we hear the noise first, see the boys reaction, then see what’s happened. This way of editing makes the audience realise who they’re meant to be watching, as well as showing that what is happening is going to have relevance later in the video, as we are being shown how it is effecting the character before we see what it is.
The video uses a lot of focus on characters faces, but also on their hands, I think this is because the hands represent people always reaching out to people, stopping them from doing what they want, always having to be in control of each other and themselves.
The video also uses a lot of POV shots to make the audience see what the protagonist is seeing, so we feel like we are walking alongside them, finding out the narrative as they find it out. It also makes the characters seem more realistic and relatable to the audience.
The editing of this video helps the audience to see the relationships between the characters, for example between the german boy and the jewish girl. This is mainly done by editing by doing shot reverse shot, so the audience can see who is talking to who, who the audience is meant to be paying attention too. I really like the way this video is edited, it’s professionally done, looks good and most importantly doesn’t distract you from what is going on narrative wise. I think I read somewhere that you know a film has been edited well if you don’t even realise it’s happening. I think this certainly applies with this.
The second video we were asked to comment on is called Sign Language.
This video has a very different feel to it compared to the first one, this one seems more like a documentary than a fictional film. The editing of it however feels in the same vein as the first one, as the focus is very much on the characters emotions, not anyone else’s. The difference with this video however, is that it does cut to some obvious London landmarks, such as the Oxford Street sign, a pedestrian crossing, as well as the actual sign holders themselves.
The idea of focusing on the characters emotions is similar to that of the first video, but with this video there is a two main characters that the editing focuses on, Ben and the girl he likes. The other sign holders are also edited into the video, making the community feel bigger in this video than in the first one. The fact that you see various characters in this video makes it feel like you could walk down the street and see this being filmed with a real sign holder. Again, the editing makes you feel like you’re walking right next to the characters, with the use of POV shots.
The editing could have made the main character seem a bit of a loaner, there could have been various shots of him walking on his own to work, but the editing in fact makes it seem like he knows everyone, that he’s a part of the community and an important part of the sign holders.
The editing lets you focus on the characters instead of the narrative, but this works because in a way the characters are the narrative of this video, not the events of the world around them, like other films, but focuses on the personal worlds of the sign holders.
Again, you don’t really notice that the cuts are being made, which is a good thing, seeing as if you had noticed what was happening, then you wouldn’t be paying as much attention to the characters but to the editing. The simplistic editing mirrors the simplistic storyline, as well as making the characters seem more real and relatable. The normality of not just this video but the first one, through the editing makes you feel like you know this situation, you can relate and you can relate to the emotions of the characters further.
Editing is so important to both of these films, they let the emotions of the characters come through, and make them fit the narratives better. The editing follows the directors vision of what the characters are to be like, and make them positive for the audience. I’ve found through todays lecture that without editing, the film industry doesn’t work as well and audiences can interpret the factors in so many different ways.