If you’ve ever had an interest in film, then you’re familiar with the handful of essential editing techniques like the jump cut, match cut, montage or dissolve. These simple actions used in diverse ways can lead to incredibly stylistic edits. They can evoke emotion, jar an audience, or make people laugh until it hurts. But art and technology are always evolving—especially with visual effects—and there are a few new moves you may want to keep in mind for your next project.
The awe-inspiring one shot—like Scorcese’s famous Goodfellas scene following Ray Liotta through the kitchen of a restaurant—is usually perfected in production. With advanced editing software and a collaboration with a badass cinematographer and post team, editors can now perfect the look through the post.
Birdman is the perfect example of how effective, moving, and even disorienting the one-shot look can be. An entire movie filmed and edited to look like it’s happening in real time elevated the one-camera documentary look.
Anything Tony Scott Ever Did
The late Tony Scott is an amazing example of forcing your own style and voice on a genre. In the early 2000s, the younger of the Scott brothers made a sub-genre of action films that was so jam packed with stylistic editing choices it either annoyed critics or created obsessed fans (like myself).
Tony and his brother are a solid 60% percent of the reason I went to film school. Marty Scorsese, The Godfather 2, and Guy Ritchie share the other 40%. While Tony’s distinct and notable style may be a bit outdated, the techniques can still be reworked for this generation.
Following are some of my favorites from his signature style: manipulating multiple layers, creating a blur effect, toying with time warps within a short scene, and tinkering with the exposure during high-impact, overly-emotional scenes or flashbacks.
Some key techniques in Scott’s work you can include in your next project are jump cuts, fast cutting, using loud sound design to jump with the cut, mutli-layers and flickering light and opacity. If you haven’t already seen it a hundred times, Man on Fire is an excellent study.
Cut to the Music
Have you seen Baby Driver? If you’re an editor, it’s non-negotiable. The elaborate planning and attention to detail that went into every cut started long before any footage made it to post. There was immense consideration about how to execute this dynamic vision in the early pre-production phase. Members of the post team were on set daily ingesting footage and making sure the take and timing were absolutely perfect to cut to the pre-selected music.
The end result is fun, out-of-the-box and impressive as hell.
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