Editing can make or break a film or video. Beautiful, subtle, daring, and elegant editing impels the viewer along and paces the experience. Poor editing can make for a clunky and messy piece, taking the viewer out of the illusion. Film editing techniques can be seen through our history of outstanding motion picture cinema. In an ever-evolving digital industry, it’s interesting to see traditional techniques still making their way into our present day. Over the next few months, we will share and explore different editing techniques. We hope to give you a glimpse into the artistry and skill involved in editing, a piece of filmmaking that we at By The Booth believe can mean the difference between a good film and a truly exceptional one. Happy reading!
The first is called Match cutting. Match cutting is the method of using a transition to keep continuity within a film. It can be a subtle, yet powerful treatment for matching two similar shots – building a comparison or relationship between the two elements on screen. In some cases, it’s up to the audience to interpret what the connection between the two shots may be – and in others, it’s a direct way of creating symmetry between two concepts of similar nature.
In 2001 – A Space Odyssey, we are given a brilliant example of this technique. When an ape discovers how to use a bone as both a tool and a weapon, he flails about and aggressively hurls the bone into the air. As the bone is airborne, we then see the film transition to an almost exact frame match of an orbital satellite – a far more advanced instrument of the future. In the flash of a frame, we have jumped from past to future; millions of years span between the two scenes, yet the concept remains the same. Linking the first discovery of the tool with the orbiting satellite was an excellent depiction of mankind’s leap in technology – and a flawless example of match cutting.
This is only one example of a match cut. Another way of using a match cut is to link two scenes with both a similar sight and sound. In the show Breaking Bad, we’re presented with a scene which shows the (dis)honorable Walter White examining his Red-Green plumbing solution. The pipe can be seen with a leak, and the same drip that falls from the cylinder then transitions into a cup of tea.
The match cut can serve both as a means for direct relation between two similar shots or purely as an ingenious way to keep continuity with seamless transitions. Stay tuned for our next instalment where we’ll be tackling the Kuleshov Effect!