The Power of Editing in Storytelling Explained

In a short video that delves deep into the art of editing in movies, filmmaker Lewis Bond provides a succinct summary of multiple editing techniques and the role it plays on a movie’s visual narrative.

An edit has the power to elevate filmmaking from the act of moviemaking into the art of cinema. This is because it ultimately sets the pace, atmosphere, and tone of the viewer’s experience — it’s so vital that filmmakers such as Ridley Scott have been known to revisit their work in order to produce a more definitive cut.

Bond’s visual essay draws attention to the level of craft film editors such as Michael Kahn (Saving Private Ryan), Sally Menke (Psycho), and the Coen Brothers put into the cutting of movies using a variety of techniques. Filmmaking cuts including the continuity edit, cross-cut, establishing shot, reaction shot, montage, smash cut, L-cut, J-cut, match cut, and dissolve.

In particular, Bond expresses that a shot should never linger and instead cut to the next once the idea within the shot has been established. Framed’s breakdown of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho shower scene below shows the rhythm of a cut done right.

For photographers looking to explore videography and improve their filmmaking skills, Editing in Storytelling shows us how the edit can act as a connective tissue, enabler of space, and even emotional amplifier in movies.