10.5 The Language of Editing
Films and videos are a form of communication, and like any form of communication it has a language with basic rules.
There are three main types of transitions: the cut, fade, and dissolve. A cut is used to take us from one place to another within the same scene to complement camera movements. Fades usually communicate a change in time or place. A dissolve is used to show a change of scene or passage of time.
Moving on from transitions, we have the basic shots: close up, medium, and wide shots. Wide shots – or establishing shots – show us a sense of where our scene is taking place and sets the stage for where the action is. Medium shots take us into focus on the characters and their actions. Close up shots get more intimate with the characters when we want to focus on a character’s action or reaction.
When editing it is also vital to remember that continuity is important when you are cutting on the action. Each scene in an edit has a certain pace, timing, and flow to it. Pacing is also important in the editing room because it can either make the scene great, or make it awkward if the shots are held too long, or not long enough. The editor is responsible for directing the viewer’s eye to the most important visual element on the screen.
If you are going to edit to music, make sure you have the rights to it. Using temporary music to edit with can be helpful to the editor and help with the pacing as you follow the beats of the music. Just be careful not to get too attached!