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a creative, and at the same time technical, process in film-making; a special form of artistic thought and interpretation of filmed material by the selection and combination of individual fragments, called sequence frames. Editing is related to the dramatic or thematic structure of a film and is determined by its screenplay or shooting sequence—or, as in the case of documentary films, by the very course of the event being recorded. The sequence frames of a motion picture are combined to form large and small groups, “phrases” and entire episodes, making up the composition of the cinematic work. Relationships of meaning, imagery, scale and space, dynamics, and sound are established among the sequence frames. The expressiveness and emotional coloration of the editing depend on the nature of the action and the performance of the actors. Its purpose is to find a particular rhythm and tempo of the sequence frames and to place emphases in accordance with the director’s concept.
In the first decade of the 20th century the directors G. A. Smith (Great Britain) and E. Porter (USA) played a particularly important role in the development of motion-picture editing. During the ascendancy of the silent film in the 1920’s, important contributions were made by T. Ince and D. W. Griffith (USA), A. Gance (France), and the Soviet directors S. M. Eisenstein, L. V. Kuleshov, V. I. Pudovkin, and D. Vertov. The introduction of sound into film-making greatly altered and expanded the expressive possibilities of editing and gave rise to new techniques, which were used in the very first years of the sound film.
The main forms of film editing used in film-making of the 1960’s and early 1970’s were intercutting, or the division of the action and staging into separate parts shot from different angles; the use of movement passing from sequence to sequence; editing dictated by the content of the dialogue or script; parallel editing, or the alternation and juxtaposition of several actions taking place simultaneously in different places; thematic editing, following the principle of summarization of meaning or enumeration of similar facts and phenomena; the combination of real action with imaginary, subjective images (such as flashbacks and dreams); and intraframe editing, or changes in the objects being filmed, including their importance, within a single action sequence shot by a mobile camera. The style of film editing depends to a great extent on the genre of the film and on the artistic aims of the director and his choice of a method. Editing perception became a new aesthetic category and one of the leading characteristics of the motion-picture art in the first half of the 20th century. The techniques of motion-picture editing are also used in television, and its influence is seen in certain literary works, in the fine arts, in printing, and in the design of exhibitions.
As a technical process, film editing is performed at the film studio in a special editing room whose work is connected with that of the film-processing and sound laboratories. Editing rooms are equipped with cutting and editing tables and equipment such as rollers for rewinding film, splicing machines, synchronizers, and footage counters. Attached to the editing room are usually small projection rooms for viewing segments of film in various stages of preparation, selecting rushes, and checking picture-sound synchronization. Editing is done by a group of specialists in accordance with the shooting script and the instructions of the director.
Film editing involves a series of sequential stages. First, the print of the film and the magnetic tape with the sound track are prepared for preliminary viewing: sequence frames are spliced and marked, and picture and sound are synchronized. The rushes chosen are combined into scenes and groups of scenes. Portions of scenes are usually cut and recombined numerous times, as the editor strives for the most precise and expressive combinations. To speed up work on a film, editing is often done parallel to the shooting of subsequent scenes.
After shooting is completed, all the previously edited scenes are reviewed in their proper order, titles and similar material are inserted, and additional scenes are shot, if necessary. Editing is completed by rerecording the film’s three to five sound tracks on a single tape. The film then becomes a “working copy” on two tapes, one with the picture and the other with the sound track. They are sent to the processing laboratory, which prepares a negative of the film and a control print in which the picture and sound track are combined.
Television films pass through the same stages of editing. However, in television a special form of editing is used during direct, live broadcasts of events without preliminary filming. In such cases, the broadcast is sent to a control panel of the television center from several angles simultaneously, and the broadcast director, viewing the pictures on different monitor screens, selects the most important parts of the event for broadcast to the viewer. The use of videotape recorders in television film technology has made it possible to improve editing and make it more effective.
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