Editing: The Right Reasons To Cut

1472 words - 6 pages

1. Introduction:In his treatise on the language of editing, Crittenden makes due reference to the fact that mastery of the basic factors required of an editor is just the first step in the creation of a successful television or film production. The really significant challenge, however, is deciding on the "dramatic development" of the sequence of shots. Only through a thorough examination of the possibilities can an editor really make a scene come to life for the viewer. To this end, Crittenden has developed his own list of possible elements that can influence the final effect of a sequence on the audience.These positive factors are:1. Is the audience to identify with a particular character or are we merely observers?2. Does a particular character dominate; does that dominance shift during the scene?3. Does the dialogue function as narrative or is it merely embroidery, i.e. aside from the real drama of the scene?4. Is there necessary eloquence in the silences?5. How does the movement of the camera and/or characters contribute to the scene?6. Should the scene be carried wide or are close shots essential?7. If we cut in close will it preclude cutting wide again?8. Are there significant details that must be seen?9. Does a reaction need to be explained?10. Does a moment in the scene demand a shock cut to point up the drama?11. Does the scene have a natural climax?12. What elements apart from the characters are important to the scene?13. Do other sounds have significance apart from the dialogue?14. What is the function of the scene? And finally,15. How does the scene fit into the overall film?Not all of these factors may come into play for every particular sequence, but all editors will use a majority of these guidelines in order to cut the scene correctly. I will now apply these factors in three scenes from the television series' Fawlty Towers, Blackadder and Star Trek: the Next Generation.2. Fawlty Towers:( Refer to "Fawlty Towers" Storyboard page )In the episode that I chose of Fawlty Towers, the hotel owner (Basil Fawlty) has discovered that his waiter and bellboy (Manuel) is keeping a pet rat on the hotel premises. In the scene, he confronts Manuel about the "pet". Manuel, using his pitiful reputation in the English language as a cover, fanes ignorance, at which point Basil gets angry and vows to kill the animal when he finds it. The last shot show Manuel panicking and rushing of to secure his beloved pet.So let us apply the fifteen points laid down by Crittenden to this scene. As to the first point, the audience certainly can identify with Manuel. The editor was astute in concentrating the close-ups on his face at the expense of the Basil character. These close-ups illustrate is benighted innocence and panic, which help the audience empathise with him.As to character dominance, the close-ups of Basil's furious tirade, along with his vociferous dialogue, helps to create a dominant position for him within the scene. The dialogue itself does follow...

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