Editing can be defined as the process of selecting and preparing written, audible and visual media to convey information. This happens in the stage of film making where images and sound are constructed together to give the overall narrative. In which transitions, pace/rhythm, continuity, special effects, order of shots and shot duration can be analysed to find the meaning portrayed through the editing techniques used.

For example:

  • Continuity editing or also known as invisible editing is where the shots are cut to tell a story with narrative continuity; so that a sense of realism is presented from the smooth flow from each shot implying that the action is real rather than constructed together.

Within continuity editing there are techniques/rules such as…

  • Match on action- this is multiple cuts which forms one continuous action in which the invisible editing creates a flow through the scene.
  • Cross cutting- is editing so that the two or more shots of action alternate between the two, although they occur in different places they are presented as if they are simultaneous/parallel with one another. The pace of the scene gradually increases as the shots cross building tension.
  • The 180 degree rule- it moves the viewer around the characters in the shot to establish their placement as well as ensuring the same space is presented in each shot.
  • Shot reverse shot- Is used most in conversations between two characters as the shot goes continuously back and forth between two shots showing a person’s face then the other. This can indicate the relationship between two characters, like their closeness or opposition.
  • Eyeline match- This provides insight to a character’s point of view as a character may look at an object then it will cut to the next shot that will be of the object for instance.

In this clip from the 1985 film “Back to the future” continuity editing has been used as I noticed how well the different shots blended well together as well as the consistency throughout. As shown through the cross cutting from the shot of Marty Mcfly trying to get the car to start and then the shot of Dr Emmett Brown on the clock tower.

Discontinuity editing is “visible” editing that makes it clear to the audience that editing has taken place due to the fact that it ignores the rules of continuity editing and includes violating the axis of action, the concentration on graphic relationships, and dislocating time and space.

Other examples of discontinuity editing techniques:

  • Split edit- In this the video and audio edit don’t start at the same time; one of which is delayed.
  • Flash cutting- Also referred to as short cut because the duration of the shots are very brief, lasting less than two seconds.
  • Elliptical editing- The shot transitions presented leaves out certain parts of an event creating ellipsis and a cliffhanger in the story.
  • Subliminal cut- This is a cut consisting of a few frames that are presented very quickly, leaving the viewer subliminally aware of them.
  • Jump cut- This is a transition between two shots which appear to “jump” caused from the fact that the way the shots are framed quite similar to one another they present a quick pace.

It’s evident in this movie clip taken from “Zombie Apocalypse” that discontinuity editing has been used. This is because many techniques like jump cuts and flash cutting has been used to fasten the pace of the attack of the humans on the zombies. As otherwise if continuity editing was used, the scene wouldn’t engage the viewer as much as the scene would flow slowly and the whole point of this clip is to intensify the fact that the humans are trying to kill the zombies.

Montage editing is a technique in which shots are juxtaposed in fast pace, but the series of shots are not in relation to one another and/ or in sequential order. This is used in trailers for films and also in the opening credits in tv programmes as a lot of information can be shown in a shot amount of time to intrigue the audience.

The clip below is a good example of montage editing as the baptism of Michael’s godson is cut back and forth with the brutal death of Corleone family’s enemies. Between the juxtaposition and and the pacing of violent killings and the baptism, it outlines Michael’s willingness to gamble with his soul. Which only the murders move the story forward, the baptism is insignificant to the story although it is a symbol of renewal of life.


In video editing transitions are used to convey a tone or mood; which a transition is what is shown between two shots or clips, this may include:

  • Fade in/out- used to communicate an ending or beginning, for example fading in from black or appearing from black.
  • Overlap/dissolve- which makes a soft transition to show time passing or creating a build up.
  • Flash- this can show flashbacks in time or flash forwards revealing thoughts and memories.
  • Wipe-  a sideways wipe introduces a new scene, location or a new day.

Above is an example of a dissolve transition between two scenes of the film “Citizen Kane”; which occurs after the male character has walked away and the wooden door is swinging from the first scene and then begins to dissolve as the second scene of the men reading newspapers emerges. This transition is used to set up a new location as the man walks out of the doors, then the dissolve transition occurs to indicate the end of that scene.

Special effects (illusions/visual tricks used in film) can be added in the film making stage, such as:

  • Colour- Adding a colour filter can portray a specific mood from the symbolism of that colour used.
  • Blur- This can be used in flashbacks as the blurriness reflects the unclarity of the memory.
  • Black and white- This can also be used in flashbacks to show the memory or time that has passed by.
  • Slow motion/fast forward- This is quite simply speeding up or down the footage.
  • Ghost trail- The actions are overlapped to indicate the character is under the influence of drugs.
  • Contrast- Altering the lighting of the footage can change the tone and mood of the film.

In this clip from the Tv series “Flash”, the use of special effects add to the sci-fi genre as the superhero the Flash is running back in time, where the bright lights and the blur effect demonstrates how he is travelling through the past to get to where his old house was; in which his aim is to save his mum from death. Therefore, the special effects heightens the scene by engaging the audience as well as reinforcing the conventions of the sci-fi genre.