AM - Class 5 / Week 2 - Lecture

Storytelling Through Cuts - editing 101

In this lecture we will understand the rules of editing that we've been watching in movies & TV shows for years, and get the logic behind it.

Editing is actually physics and ballistics! what dose that mean??
Ballistics in editing is a description of one complete cycle/movement, let's take the famous a bouncing ball as an example; starting from the moment the ball leaves the ground to the moment it touches it back, is a complete ballistic cycle that loops until the ball comes to a stop.

Ballistic movements (or cycle) consists of few major parts : 
Rest, Maximum Velocity, Constant Velocity, Full Extension or Impact, Recoil or Rest.
To understand this further, the host of this lecture takes the cannon ball as an example, the ball inside the canon starts with Rest, as soon as it fires up it accelerates to Maximum Velocity, then keeps moving with Constant Velocity until it reaches the farthest point or Full Extension, then it falls on the ground and bounces a couple of times until it comes to a stop or Rest.
Same in a walk cycle, the foot starts at Rest, then it lifts up in Maximum Velocity, moves forward in Constant Velocity, then the heel touches the ground which is the Full Extension point, then plants on the ground to a full Rest.

We need to know when is the perfect point to cut in a ballistic movement, its the job of the editor to make a sequence of cuts flowing & seamless.  Usually, a Cut happens at the end of a ballistic, you don't want to cut in the middle of it because it makes the audience feel interrupted, so let the movement complete then cut, in most cases the cut happens few frames later after the a ballistic movement is finished.

In shots with dialog, sentences share the same ballistic principle as well, they have an explosive beginning from a silence, constant velocity in the middle, then end up with a period or rest.
You can make a clean camera cut in a dialog shot on one of these positions:
Cut on a Period, Cut on a Comma, Cut on a Pause, Cut on a Plosive (loud word)
But never cut in the middle of a word or flow of words, because again, the audience will feel interrupted.
Interestingly enough; in horror films they do cut in the middle of words & sentences intentionally to make the audience feel disturbed, but usually not in a casual dialog sequence.

As for camera placement in the scene, the main rule is to place it in the most clear position possible, & that is called in the film business ' The Best Seat In The House',  as animators we are fortunate to have a full control over where to place our camera, a full range of lens with a click of a button, a complete freedom to offer the audience the best seat in the house.

Here are the most famous type of shots in cinematography:
- Wide shot to show the surrounding environment arround the character.
- Medium shot, to show what the character is doing, usually the hands will be involved.
- Medium closeup shot, where you don't show hands but concentrate more on the head & shoulders (like the shampoo lol)
- Closeup shot, for showing emotion on the face.
- Extreme closeup, for more facial features.
- Extreme extreme closeup, just for the eyes.

This takes us probably to the only way where we can cut in the middle of a Ballistic movement, and that is to cut from a medium shot to a closeup shot, or from a closeup to extreme closeup, for instance if you have a shot of a guy punching, 
you can cut at the middle of the shot (before the fist reaches its target) to a closeup when the fist is smashing the target.
Of course rules could always be broken, but its better to play by the rules first, then break them latter, if you dare!

Last, I leave you with a nice quote from the host of this lecture: if you can dance you can edit, if you cant dance you'll be able 
to dance after you learn how to edit :)


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