We all have heard that great editing is invisible. But, how do we find the exact edit point between cuts? Many seasoned editors would say that when you have enough experience, trusting your professional instincts and intuition is the best way to get the right answer. Others use different techniques and tricks to achieve the same goal. Either way, you can try these five recommendations of the A.C.E. Award nominee film editor Sven Pape, that might also help you to improve your editing, hence find easier the right frame to cut in more natural and organic manner.
The first technique of Sven Pape suggests playing back the footage in real-time while trying to feel the edit point at the same time. Presumably, if you are doing it long enough, you should start hitting the same mark every time. Personally, I tend to believe that this approach is a little bit excessive and cumbersome, but it could be a decent point to start.
The other thing you can also try out after completing the rough cut of your sequence is to leave it for some time. Then turn back and review the edit once again. If you still feel the natural flow of the edit, then you can continue with the next sequence. In most cases, you will find a few extra frames that need to be cut here and there, but it’s completely normal so tweak the scene accordingly and move on.
Another trick is to play your rough sequence as a silent movie. Most of the time, the actual audio will distract your attention anyway, thus encouraging you to edit your scene in a way that visually or emotionally might not work. So, turning off sound occasionally might give you a better perspective on your edit.
The name of the third technique is a little bit awkward to me, but whatever you decide to call it, the so-called Frame F’ing encourages you to scrub through the edit frame by frame, thus finding the exact edit point as precise as possible. For instance, if your talent’s head is moving then probably you should cut at the very moment when he/she stays still, or vise verse. Cutting on the action is another well-established approach that can also produce excellent results.
The fourth method suggests cutting your scene by listening only to the audio of the edit itself. In particular, you should look at the audio waveform and pick the right spot to cut just as if you’re editing audio only. In other words, you treat everything that you are cutting as if there are no visuals at all. Just as a recommendation, you should always review your video once you completed the sequence. The great thing about this approach is that you will get a fresh look at your scene. Therefore, it should be easier for you to evaluate if those cuts work or require further tweaking.
At last but not least, you can try the Trial and Error method. Just make a few random choices to cut between your takes. You would never know when you’ll have a happy accident, something in your edit that might feel and look perfect without even expecting it in the first place. Sometimes, these unforeseen moments can give you some great results that could also help you to enhance your edit and find easier the right frame to cut.