Editing Theory


Exercise: The Kuleshov Effect. Using the provided directions, create a short 8 shot sequence to demonstrate the principle. Experiment with different options for the Shot 7 cutaway.

Exercise: Classical Continuity. Show the principle for the following scene: “A student enters a kitchen-dining space. He/she opens a cupboard, takes out a packet of cereal and places it on the kitchen counter. The person then walks to the sink and takes an empty bowl from the draining board. They walk to the fridge, take out a bottle of milk and go back to the cereal packet with their bowl and bottle of milk. They fill the bowl with cereal, pour milk onto it, and then walk to a sofa or kitchen chair and sit down to eat.”

The Kuleshov Effect

Classical Continuity


On their own, each cutaway filmed for the Kuleshov effect exercise is largely innocuous or meaningless, but placed into the context of even a simple sequence they begin to hint at a much more significant narrative. Even without any signifiers in the contextual shots, the change to the cutaway has a substantial effect on the ‘story’. From lighthearted music to exotic holiday and then something altogether more sinister, each of these ideas works within the context which means that a shot should never be wasted, especially a closeup, because the audience will expect meaning to be attributed.

Although simple, the team movie relies on careful attention to any movement. This is especially important on sequences filmed with a single camera as each take needs to relate to those being cut to either side or the sequence will feel unnatural. The length of each shot seems to go a long way towards determining the pace of the sequence, so even the pedestrian activity of making tea can be imbued with a sense of energy, such as you would find in Edgar Wright’s editing of films like Hot Fuzz (2007). As a consideration, this substantially increases the scope of storytelling with moving images.

While I have kept fairly closely to the brief for this exercise, it has given me a number of ideas and enthusiasm for exploring more of what can be done with simple sequences.

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