Cutting rhythms : ideas about the shaping of rhythm in film editing

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2006
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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. This thesis contains 3rd party copyright material. ----- How does a film editor make decisions about where and when to cut in order to shape a film's rhythm to make it ‘feel right’? Generally speaking the answer is ‘it’s intuitive’, which is accurate, but leaves one wanting to know more. Cutting Rhythms begins by breaking down the definition of intuition to find that, even if rhythmic thinking is intuitive thinking, we can still say more than we ‘just know’. It identifies some of the sources of editors’ intuitive knowledge about rhythms and discusses the ways this knowledge is acquired and employed. Cutting Rhythms then goes on to look at the processes through which an editor shapes rhythms. It compares editing to choreography and examines some commonalities and differences between the manipulation of moving bodies to make dance and the manipulation of moving images into rhythms. A look at the tools for shaping rhythm leads to extended definitions of words such as “timing” and “pacing", which are often used but rarely defined in the process of cutting film. “Trajectory phrasing" is added to the list of the editor’s rhythm shaping tools and specifically ties the creation of rhythms back to the art of choreography. The functions of rhythm in film are also considered in Cutting Rhythms, with particular attention to the relationship between the somatic intelligence editors use to shape rhythms and the physiological effects of rhythm on the spectator. Finally, three different kinds of rhythm are discussed and case studies of the accompanying screen production, Thursday’s Fictions, are offered as demonstrations of the ideas that have been put forward about physical rhythm, emotional rhythm and event rhythm. Thursday’s Fictions is a 52 minute screen work, edited by the author as the practical component of this doctoral research into rhythm in film editing. The production generated, and now demonstrates, many of the ideas and theories developed in this dissertation. The combination of theoretical and practical research has resulted in working definitions of what rhythm is in film editing, and how it is shaped. These discussions and definitions offer scholars the possibility of augmenting their ideas of how films are perceived; and editors and filmmakers the possibility of expanding their rhythmic intuition and enhancing their rhythmic creativity.
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