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Editing Techniques

When making a film, a film maker has to take into consideration how they are going to edit a film to get its point across, no matter what genre the film is taking. In comedies, film makers should try to edit the shot to come off as funny as possible. One form of editing in films is called elliptical editing. In elliptical editing, “such instances construct a view from elsewhere; a perspective which is not directly represented or addressed in the text but which at the interstices of these threads requires the spectator to reconsider” (Watkins, 2010).  So, it’s when your main attention is on one scenario, but then they cut to other scenes that visualize another situation going on. Also, this type of editing is generally used when trying to imply that there has been a decent amount of time between situations.

For example, in “The Break Up” starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn, uses elliptical editing in the very beginning of the film. The film starts off with Jennifer Aniston on a first date at a baseball game with a man, who is essentially irrelevant to the film. Vince Vaughn’s character is sitting a few people away from her and starts flirting with her. In this scene, Jennifer Aniston’s character makes it clearly evident that she is not interested in Vince Vaughn. However, then the opening credits are shown. The opening credits consist of a series of pictures of her and Vince Vaughn’s character simulating that they are in a serious relationship. Then, after the opening credits the film resumes with them living together in a very serious and very committed relationship.  Clearly, they had been dating for quite some time, but obviously us as viewers are not going to watch their relationship unfold for what seems like years. So, the director used elliptical editing to show the elapsed time using pictures.

Another common editing technique used is analytical editing. “Analytical editing is the practice of organizing shots in accordance with narrative information, so that spectators infer logical relationships among shots” (Berliner & Cohen, 2011). In essence, it is when a character narrates a flashback and the audience visually sees the flashback while they listen to the character’s narration of the situation.

An example of analytical editing in a comedic film is in the movie “Superbad.” The scene starts off with Jonah Hill and Michael Cera’s character eating lunch in the cafeteria at their high school. They start talking about Michael Cera’s crush Becca and Jonah Hill’s character explains to Cera how he does not like her. In this case, the director chose to use analytical editing in explaining the story as to why he does not like her. Jonah Hill narrates the story of how Becca publically embarrassed him in elementary school, but us as viewers are no longer visually watching Cera and Hill have lunch, we are now watching Hill’s flashback of what happened when they were little. This has effect on the viewers because we get to see character reactions in the situation and the flashback helps bring comedic elements to the film.  This also helps us to understand more in depth about Hill’s character and later the struggle of his dislike for Becca brings to the relationship.

Watkins, L. (2010). A View From Elsewhere: Ellipsis and Desire in Walkabout (Nicolas Roeg, 1971). Parallax, 16(2), 107-117.

Berliner, T., & Cohen, D. J. (2011). The Illusion of Continuity: Active Perception and the Classical Editing System. Journal Of Film & Video, 63(1), 44-63.


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