Pacing – To advance or develop (something) at a particular rate or tempo. That definition is most appropriate. Pacing first and foremost should advance your story. How do you advance your story with pacing, you ask? The pace of a story or a section of the story tells the viewer a lot about the story.
Are we about to get into a car chase? Tell the viewer that. Ramp up the pacing to say, “Here we go!”
Are we about to start a love scene? Slow down the pace of the story. Let the viewer know where gonna take it slow; unless the love scene’s pacing should be faster?
Everything has a pace. Let’s go back to that definition again; To advance or develop (something) at a particular rate or tempo. We should develop something? Developing the story, a scene? Once you know what you’re trying to develop, you can begin to set the tempo.
Everyone loves to listen to music. The music you enjoy is a great place to start learning about pace. Ever heard of Tears for Fears? They produced this song Mad World
This song definitely has a pace. To me, the pace feels too fast. Why? Because the Gary Jules version, in my opinion, is better and has the right pace.
The same song with two different paces. Is it possible for two versions of a story to have two different paces? You betcha! The pace will help the viewer understand how they’re supposed to feel.
Do you want the viewer to feel the urgency? A faster pace would do that, like in the story. It’s Bad.
This story’s pace has a slower pace. That pace is helping tell this story.
Our story for this post is In Search of Flatter Ground.
Our story begins with a medium shot of the airplane in the field.
I then cut to a tight shot at [:02] of a lucky rabbit’s foot. The sound bite says, “we’re going to try and get it off the ground.” I thought it was somewhat symbolic of luck. The pilot was lucky to land in a field and not crash. He’ll need a little luck getting the plane back off the ground.
The next shot at [:04] is up for 3 and a half seconds.
I’m establishing the pace of the entire story with one shot. You need to see the car going in the bumpy field. The bumpy field is critical to the whole story. I am establishing the pace of the story.
Now let’s see if I can stick to it. Remember, that shot was up for over 3 seconds! Anyone ever told you or have you ever read 3 seconds is about how long it takes someone to adsorb everything in a shot in a story? I feel that’s jibberish. No two 3-second shots are the same. Each is unique in the information in the shot.
The entire process of getting the airplane out of the field is slow and methodical. That’s how this happens. I’m going to try and convey a slow and methodical story.
The very next edit of the car at [:08] is also over 3 seconds long. Damn, again, with those shots up for a while? If the shot is up longer, then there must be fewer edits. Fewer edits and longer shots make a slower pace.
At [:12] I have another wide shot of the airplane in the field.
I keep this shot up for over 2 seconds (sensing a trend yet).
The reporter in this story helps tremendously with pacing. She has a calm delivery in her narration. There is no sense of urgency in her voice. She’s only telling the story.
- A calm delivery helps control the pacing
Another way I help with pacing is how I use natural sound. At [:25] is a tight shot of starting the airplane. This shot and the natural sound to support it is up almost a full 2 seconds.
The next time you hear the plane is at [:29]. I leave that natural sound up for over a second and a half.
This shot is also up for 4 seconds.
At [:35] I have another shot of the plane. The natural sound up for nearly two full seconds.
The shot itself is up for nearly 5 seconds. I also leave this shot up so long because I want the viewer to see the difficulty in trying to take off from this field.
They finally get the plane out of the field. They have to maneuver through cattle gates to get the aircraft to a better place for takeoff. I’ve never seen an airplane maneuver through cattle gates, have you? This shot is beautiful and worth leaving up for over 3 and a half seconds, and it helps with pacing.
There are a lot of great shots in this story. The next shot at [:49] is one of my favorites, and I almost didn’t put it in.
Initially, I just had the plane on the highway. No cop car in front of it. The reporter came into the edit bay and suggested I change it. She was right. This reveal of the plane on the highway really makes the story. At the beginning of the shot, I just use the natural sound of the wind. I let the shot breath. It’s a great shot, and it helps with pacing.
The final shot of the airplane at [1:09] is the last, and I leave it up until our story is over.
At [1:12] and for a full 3 seconds, you just hear the natural sound as the plane goes down the highway and disappears, only to reappear airborne. All this is helping with pacing. It’s also the single most fabulous closing shot I’ve ever had in a package I edited.
- This story has 27 edits
- This story is 1:26 long
- Average edit every 3.18 seconds
- Slow pace
Just for comparison sake.
A story with a faster pace is It’s Bad.
- That story has 41 edits
- That story is 1.17 long
- Average edit every 1.87 seconds
Play with pacing.
It’s another great tool to make your editing better.
Thank you for reading.