The ins and outs of film editing: the bad.

A long time ago, I was supposed to talk about bad techniques in film editing, but I got sidetracked. Generally in film though, editing is bad if you notice it. If you're watching a scene, and then you're wondering why you're somewhere else (or looking at something else), then the editor made a mistake. He/she took you out of the reality of the movie.

Editing also works to focus our attention on something. We can only see what's on screen, so we see what the editor chooses for us to see (based on the director's wishes of course). A good example of bad editing is at the end of Teen Wolf. Not only did the editor fail to notice the guy exposing himself, but failed to make an important cut. Check out the clip and then come back and see if you noticed the problem. Here are the characters to help you out:

Michael J. Fox - the teen wolf
girl in blue - his girlfriend
girl in pink - some bitch who's been a jerk to him and now wants him since he won the game
player in red - bitch's boyfriend who's been a jerk to Michael J. Fox

Did you notice the problem? If you didn't, I'll fill you in. The movie should have cut at 0:22, so that we could see Michael J. Fox embrace his girlfriend. Instead, we're stuck watching "bitch & jerk," whom we don't even care about and we're totally missing the emotional payoff of the "big movie kiss" -- at least what counts for an emotional payoff in a crummy 80s teen film.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 has a lot to say on bad editing as well. Those guys love to point out whenever edits are made to hide bad movie-making. Check out this repository of editing jokes from the show.

2 comment(s).:

September 19, 2008 at 9:42 AM MPU said...

I have to admit, I missed it. I guess it has to be much worse than an unbelievable MJ Fox movie in which a short guy is a basketball player. Let me rephrase that,it has to be worse than an unbelievable MJ Fox movie in a short white is a basketball player (remember Spud Webb playing for the Sacramento Kings?).

November 13, 2008 at 4:48 PM Paul said...

Editing is something that too many people take for granted. As most film fans know, good editing can make or break a film (American Beauty, Godfather). Sadly there aren't enough places around today where someone can learn the latest editing techniques. I found a program on the web called Film Connection, They offer one on one mentoring and you can study from anywhere in America.