I m p o r t a n c e   o f   e d i t i n g

Cut! Cut! Cut! Editing for the video-game generation. Time and again, I’ve been amazed at the skill of a good film editor. Unpromising-looking raw film material can be turned into something really exciting by a brilliant editor. I remember a group of film students were asked to create a little five minute drama, with no budget at all. Their solution showed just how important editing is. They filmed a person carrying a black briefcase walking through a busy city. The camera’s focus was on the briefcase itself and they combined some sinister music that gradually built up the suspense. The edited film was as gripping as a big-budget feature film. “What was in the case?” “Who was carrying it?” “Where was it going to end up?”. As the film progressed, each shot became shorter and shorter. The editor increased what’s called the “Cutting Rate” until in the end nothing was more than a second long. (And what was in the case? The man sits on a bench and takes out his sandwiches.)
If you watch some very old TV drama from decades ago, you’ll be struck at how slow it seems. Nowadays, we are used to seeing all kinds of filmed content cut and edited much faster. In other words, the Cutting Rate has increased. One reason is we are far better able to absorb visual information. Our cars travel faster on busier roads. Fast-forward buttons arrived on video players and then DVD players. And most important, two generations of kids have grown up with video games. Many of these games actually don’t have many edit points in them at all. Often, the game represents someone’s point-of-view and the player simply manoeuvres and navigates through different scenes and environments. But within each scene, tons of visual information is dumped onto the viewer with split-second timing, which is why these games are so immersive.
TV ads have always been edited with higher Cutting Rates. Most are only 30 seconds long, so each shot has to count, and be trimmed to the bone. It’s astonishing just how much can be crammed into half a minute, and how a shot lasting just one third of a second can be made to jump out and demand attention. This higher Cutting Rate comes at a cost: more shots in the finished film means more material must be shot in the first place. A typical film crew working on a TV drama will reckon on shooting between five and ten minutes of finished film in a day. You’d be lucky to shoot a 30 second ad in the same time, and many take a whole week.
So how is all of this relevant to the video content that is now so important online? It’s of fundamental importance. If the film crew that is making your video simply don’t shoot much content (they haven’t been given the time or the money) or produce a lot of different shots, they will have to edit with a slow Cutting Rate. They simply won’t have the material to insert lots of different shots. Result? Little variety, nothing to hold the attention and Hey Presto, your viewer has bounced out of your website and is off looking at a competitor’s.

Looked at this way, the web video becomes a vital bridge in the sales process. A bridge into your website that confirms how good your organisation is, not some add-on that is buried several pages away from the home page, only there because someone suggested it might be useful for SEO.

< Mad Max 2 made in 1981 is still one of the best-edited action films of all time. The split-second cutting in the 2015 follow-up trailer shows just how much the human mind can absorb.(film by Kennedy Miller/Village Roadshow)


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