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What is Editing?
Lucy Harris
What is Editing?

Choosing the format of the project probably would have started much earlier on in the process, at the production stage – so that the footage is shot on the correct medium. However even if you have shot on film, you do have a choice when you come to the editing stage. Also, this isn’t just a technical decision, as choosing to edit//the choice of editing on film or video/analogue or digital will introduce subtle differences in the working process. You may find that creatively you are naturally better suited to one process or the other, or combining film and video. – analogue or digital…..


People talk of the ‘pleasure of handling film’ and their direct relationship with the medium, physically cutting and splicing the film together on every edit. Film ‘time’ also takes a real physical form – 24 frames (1 second) of 16mm film is roughly a foot in length, an arms length is 10 seconds etc. So some people think of editing their films in a direct relationship to their body “each shot used is an arm’s length”

This also opens up the possibilities of working directly onto the surface of film – scratching, painting and layering in an instinctive direct way. This is the earliest form of what is now termed ‘compositing’ in a digital environment. So although one thinks of film editing as always being painstakingly slow, there are many aspects that cannot be achieved digitally, or that take far longer and would be more expensive to do in a digital environment.

If one is working with actual reels of film in a film-editing environment, it demands space and organisation. Traditionally one would have sections of the film cut up and placed in different canvas ‘bins’ to access when needed. So the ability to have/develop a good visual memory, and also to be able to visualize the film (and any effects) ahead throughout the process is important.

In film editing one is constantly viewing/examining all of the footage, as it is only possible to access your shots ‘linearly’ i.e. by fast forwarding and rewinding the film to find specific shots. So it is an integral part of the working process for one to become familiar with all of the footage, as one is naturally watching it more frequently.

see Film as Film
and Abstraction

‘Home’ telecine 16mm film digitized into Avid DV Express digital editing software.
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