Film editing

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Film editing , often synonymous with film montage , montage or editing , is the selection, processing and structuring of the recorded image and sound material in order to give the film its final form.

The terms film editing and film montage are used quite differently in the specialist literature, but in general usage they are felt to be synonymous. The word “cut” has its origins in the manual cutting of physical film material , while “montage” emphasizes the compositional aspect of the activity: the arrangement and merging of the selected material. The corresponding English term is film editing and the job title of the creative executives is now also in German-speaking countries: " Filmeditor ". In terms of language, another aspect of the activity comes into focus: Editing and refining the film until it is ready for publication in terms of content and form.

The film editing is an important creative part of filmmaking, which has a significant share in the effect of the finished film. And it is also an art form that - unlike camerawork or production design, for example - is unique to filmmaking, even if there are parallels in other art genres such as literature.

An interface on a filmstrip: the last frame of a take is followed by the first frame of the next take.
Film cut 1946
Analog editing suite


The first film recordings made and shown from around 1895 were still between 30 and 60 seconds long and consisted of a single static camera setting, the effect was that of a moving photo: the viewer saw what the static camera had "seen" while playing, until the footage ran out.

At the end of the 1890s, some filmmakers were already experimenting with the first options for film editing. The Frenchman Georges Méliès used the stop trick process in some of his first fictional films , the effect of which he optimized by cutting the film afterwards.

The use of film editing to create "continuity," an ongoing story told in multiple sequences, is widely attributed to British film pioneer Robert W. Paul. His film Come along, Do! was one of the first to consist of multiple sequences or shots. Other pioneers were the Brighton School members George Albert Smith and James Williamson, whose films like Stop Thief! and Fire! already in 1900 consisted of many sequences put together by film editing and were up to 5 minutes long. Edwin Porter's first American film with a film cut and a plot ( Life of an American Fireman from 1903) - his film The Great Train Robbery from 1903 already consisted of twenty different shots and played on ten different interior and exterior motifs.

It was around this time that some basic filmmaking techniques were discovered and developed. The film editing as an assembly technique made it possible to recreate a narrative whole from individual parts that could be recorded in different places at different times and from different perspectives. Only then did film begin to establish itself as an independent art form and to break away from the older arts such as theater and photography and their conventions.

With the introduction of film editing as part of every film production, the overlapping edit established itself as an essential feature of an early silent film with a fictional plot. In the understanding of the film directors at the time , this should clarify the connection between the scenes and facilitate orientation. Events that appear particularly important should also be emphasized in this way. The cut between the shots was also often done with fades.

technical basics

For a long time, film cutting was a mechanical process on a so-called cutting table with celluloid as the carrier material. The exposed film material, the camera negative , first had to be developed in a copier. A positive "sample copy" was then delivered to the cutting room, which was used to select (discard) the appropriate settings. After consultation with the director, an editor put them together to create a final sequence of images and scenes. This film, composed of the sample copy, with its innumerable cut and glued points was called " cut copy ".

After the fine cut approval by the producer, the cut copy came back to the copy plant. On this basis, an image-precise cut of the negative material was then produced. So-called “margin numbers” on the edges of the negative and positive material helped identify the interfaces in positive and negative. The final cut negative remained in the copier and served as a template for the production of projection copies. In preparation for the sound mixing, the editor was also responsible for putting together the sound carriers (also on celluloid at the time).

The possibilities of digital video editing have fundamentally changed this process.

If film material is still being used for shooting, the exposed negative is developed, digitized and loaded into a digital offline editing suite. If the recording medium is digital, the original recordings are copied and scaled down to a smaller data format in order to keep the amount of data for editing low.

The digital editing suite - widely used systems are Avid and Final cut pro  - is able to combine all image sequences into a desired sequence of scenes according to the requirements of the film editor and director. Significantly more work steps can be carried out at the digital editing station than before: Sound and music can be created and edited parallel to the images. Simple effects such as slow motions or color corrections can be tested. In contrast to the analog editing station, where only the cutting and joining of image material was possible, the digital editing station has become the central workstation where all the work steps involved in classic film finishing can be prepared.

Once the image sequences have been put together to form a complete film, the digital editing data is output as an Edit Decision List (EDL) in which all interfaces are listed - the equivalent of the analog "editing copy". All further finalization steps are carried out on this basis. If the desired end result is a film negative, a negative master is created on the basis of the EDL.

Cut theory

The work of film cutting is a creative process. After choosing the most suitable settings, it consists in creating a dramaturgically conceived continuity that can be conveyed to the audience. The film editor responsible for the film editing works in principle as directed by the director (or the editor), but with his technical and creative skills he makes a decisive contribution to the final narrative form of the cinematic product. The ability of an editor has a great influence on the content and effect of the images and sounds in the overall work. Even small changes in the editing can change the message, the rhythm and the structure of a film significantly.

Cutting techniques

Camera cut

When editing the camera, the camera is stopped after each shot or put into a pause mode and switched on again to take the next shot, so that a mechanical cut is not actually necessary. This technology is more possible with cameras equipped with film material than with digital cameras with chip storage media, since these usually save each recording as a separate file.

Representation of a wipe


Change of film scenes by fading in and out


The dissolve ( English lap dissolve ) is a film editing technique that is in contrast to the hard cut. The old picture is slowly faded out and the new picture faded in at the same time. This creates a smooth transition between the two, which is often used to suggest two scenes that are far apart in time or space.

Wiper panel

The wipe ( English wipe ) is a film cutting technique in which the old image is continuously displayed or replaced by the new image. This can be done in a number of ways, e.g. B. also horizontally, vertically, diagonally, star-shaped or clockwise. This editing technique is used to depict a simultaneous action in different places. This technique is rarely used in modern films, the best known is probably the use of wipers in the films of the Star Wars series .

Fade in and out

See main article: Fade in and fade out

Trick fade

See main article: Trick screen

Acoustic bracket

With this method, two shots or scenes are supported by the cinematic sound. In most cases this is done through the soundtrack or other musical input; not infrequently, however, the stylistic device of the preferred sound effects and dialogue parts is also used. That means you hear z. B. a person is already talking, although it only becomes clear in the change of scene that this will happen at a different (later) time or at a different location. This technique of early change of the sound track for the first time in 1931 by Fritz Lang in M used.

The reverse is also common, for example to cut from the planning of an action to its implementation while the sound track continues to explain the plan. In Monty Python's comedy The Life of Brian , the abduction of Pontius Pilate 's wife is implemented in this way. However, the coup fails, which was not intended in the planning and thus gives this narrative technique an interesting twist.

Other techniques

See also

Literature, DVDs

  • Michaela S. Ast: History of the narrative film montage. Theoretical principles and selected examples. Tectum Verlag, 2002.
  • Hans Beller (Hrsg.): Handbook of the film montage. Practice and principles of film editing. UVK, Konstanz 2005, ISBN 978-3-89669-689-2 .
  • Hans Beller: Onscreen / Offscreen. Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2000.
  • Hans-Peter Gumprecht: Quiet please! Production manager for film and television. UVK , 2002, ISBN 3-89669-380-8 (available online)
  • Jürgen Kühnel: Introduction to film analysis. 1 .: The characters of the film. Series Medienwissenschaften, 4th Universi, Siegen, 3rd edition 2008, ISBN 393653313X ( Mises en chaîne. Forms and functions of montage in feature films : pp. 209–279)
  • Walter Murch: One blink, one cut. The Art of Filmmontage , Alexander Verlag Berlin, 4th edition 2014, ISBN 978-3-89581-109-8
  • Eberhard Nuffer: film editing and editing table . A journey through time through classic assembly technology. Series: Cinematography Wonders of the World. Contributions to a cultural history of film technology, 7. Polzer, Potsdam 2003, ISBN 3-934535-24-0 .
  • Paul Read: A Short History of Cinema Film Post-Production 1896-2006. In To the History of the Filmkopierwerk. On Film Lab History. Series: Cinematography Wonders of the World. Contributions to a cultural history of film technology, 8th Polzer, Potsdam 2006, ISBN 3-934535-26-7 (bilingual)
  • Gabriele Voss: Sections in space and time. Notes and discussions on film editing and dramaturgy (texts on the documentary volume 10). Verlag Vorwerk 8, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-930916-75-4 .
  • Gabriele Voss: Film: cuts in space and time. Additional interviews. DVD. Vorwerk 8 publishing house, Berlin 2006.

Web links

Commons : Film Editing  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Film editing  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Job profile film editor. In: Federal Association of Film Editing Editor e. V. (BFS) , accessed on October 6, 2019 .
  2. a b Roberta Pearson: The cinema of transition. In: Geoffrey Nowell-Smith (Ed.): History of the international film. Metzler, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 3-476-02164-5 , pp. 19-21.
  3. Michael Brooke: Come Along, Do! BFI Screenonline Database. Retrieved April 24, 2011
  4. ^ The Brighton School . Retrieved December 17, 2012
  5. ^ Edison Films Catalog, February 1903, 2-3; reprinted in: Charles Musser: Before the Nickelodeon: Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company. University of California Press, Berkeley 1991, pp. 216-218.
  6. nikselino: Example of an exercise with the camera cut. (Video on YouTube ; 0:45 min) July 11, 2009, accessed on March 28, 2015 .