Forgive me if you know what video editing is. This post is to those just beginning their journey or those that need a refresher.
Some may argue that Horse in Motion (1878) was the first film. That film was accomplished using multiple cameras. These were still photographs assembled into a motion picture. They used 24 cameras to capture this.
Actual motion picture cameras weren’t developed until the 1880s. That is when the camera started capturing all the single images on one reel. At this time, there was no editing. Each film ran as long as there was a film to roll.
Filmmakers often would shoot and just stop the crank of the camera when they felt they completed capturing that scene. Then, they would reset for the next shot and start cranking again when the next scene was ready. You could say this was the beginning of editing. It was editing in the camera, so there still was no manipulation of the reel.
It wasn’t until the 1900s that editing really began. Did you know that one of the very first reasons for editing is that studios wanted films to be longer? They wanted multiple film reels compiled into one continuous movie. After that revelation, they started putting images together to try and tell a story.
One of the very first films that not only combined reels but began to develop some rules (or guidelines as I prefer) for video editing is The Great Train Robbery (1903)
Watch this movie and realize
- There is action/movement in every scene
- They maintain screen direction (except for one edit)
- There is sequencing
- Each edit advances the story
- There is an effort made in pacing/rhythm
- Editing hasn’t changed much in over 100 years.
I’m a fan of movement. You should be a fan of movement. I like to have as much movement in a story as possible. Often, I base my edit decisions on movement. If I’m choosing between two shots, I’ll choose motion over a better-composed shot with no action happening in the shot.
We are a visual medium.
Give your viewer as much to look at as they possibly can handle. Our story for this post is It’s Bad.
This is a spot news story edited in about an hour. There are practices you can learn here and apply to any edit. The idea of motion isn’t a new one. Next time you are editing a story, think about the exact frame you are choosing as your IN point and the action in that edit.
There are a lot of static shots. The standard video for stories like these is;
and spectators watching
We know what the video is going to be like in any type of story like this. So often in stories like these, I see edits chosen with nothing going on.
Only 6 shots with no movement, count them.
Pay particular attention to the next few shots and what I choose as the IN point.
[:07] IN point when S.W.A.T member puts on his helmet
[:08] – IN point when another S.W.A.T member move his head
[:09] – IN point when a police officer takes a step
[:11] – I wait until just before you see many S.W.A.T members moving forward
I’m trying to keep the story moving. This may sound obvious but watch a newscast and look at how often there is nothing is going on within a shot. I strive to have something going on in as many shots a possible. Even little things like;
[:15] – Crime tape blowing in the wind
[:20] – Cops walking from frame right to frame left
[:38] – Officer’s arm moving in the left-hand corner of the screen
I’m waiting for something to happen before I set the IN point.
Watch It’s Bad again. Now that you know what to look for, notice how much all the little things like a bit of movement adds to the story. Next time you edit a story like this think about it
Think about what’s in the shot
Is there something going on you can show instead of just a static shot
Wait for something to happen and then set your IN point