Book Review: Film Editing : Great Cuts Every Filmmaker and Movie Lover Must Know (Gael Chandler)
Updated: Aug 10, 2021
For my friend, mentor Ms.Gael Chandler
Author: Gael Chandler
Title: Film Editing: Great Cuts Every Filmmaker and Movie Lover Must Know
ASIN : B003VIWU2Y
Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions
I own and read thousands of film articles and film books. Among them, there are only a few books really helped our film practice. Ms. Gael Chandler's book Film Editing: Great Cuts Every Filmmaker and Movie Lover Must Know (2009) is a masterpiece and practical textbook for film schools and any audio-visual art workers not just limited in film / TV / video editors.
Ms. Gael Chandler published my article at her now deceased website http://joyoffilmediting.com, the topic was Asian vs. U.S. editing. That's now obsolete for me because unlike Taiwan or Japan, Hong Kong fortunately has no such practical contradiction (Galapagos-like local exclusivism on film practice, confusion and misconceptions that prevent universalisation and openness in the era of international coproduction) in the field of film editing and film production as a whole.
Her best book on the topic provides accurate film editing methodological concepts and terms, such as match cutting. For politically brainwashed readers, they can surprisingly find both Soviet-Russian and American editing are mainly about match cutting. In Taiwan and Japan, there is anti communist bias still severe even in the field of film art, the typical dualist misconception is ''Soviet montage versus US continuity editing.'' This is sheer distortion of principles of film art because it's just political bias and politicisation of film methodology. In fact, entire system of film editing essentially includes both of them inseparably as match cutting. Furthermore, continuity editing itself is not a holistic term because there are not only match cuts in film editing as you can read in the book. So called match cuts are just parts of the entire film editing methodology not everything.
Match cutting is the core of all genres of film / TV / video production. I myself practiced all methods mentioned in the book and still try to use as many as possible in my audio-visual art projects.
Although film studies (Film studies is an academic discipline that deals with various theoretical, historical, and critical approaches to cinema as an art form and a medium; and there is no professional film studies in Asia including Taiwan and Japan) is almost nothing in the industry and we can't find any industrially influential figure in the category, methodological teaching is still definitely important for both film students and workers in general.
Ms. Gael Chandler categorised the entire methodology of film editing into 8 big concepts and 49 methodological terms. Any film can be decomposed into frames, shots, scenes, sequences and ACTs in terms of film editing. Thus those methodical concepts are also proper analytical tools. Furthermore,
the more professional your work is, the more methodological concepts you will use.
Philosophically, theories can be summed as a number of concepts / terms in order to serve our practice and education. In other words, concepts (a concept is a kind of summary/ conclusion which extracted from a series of inner or exterior experiences ; a typical experience accumulated to a certain extent in our mind, it will produce a concept) , judgements (a judgement / a sentence is composed of a series of concepts which reflect certain logic of relative facts if it's effective) and theories (a conclusion or a theory is composed of a series of judgements) are not just three different phases of dialectics but also dynamically interchangeable if they are factually correct. Dialectically, a concept itself is also a kind of conclusion.
What film editing is? Film editing is composed of a series of methodological concepts as art.
Cut: The joint of two shots or splitting a shot into two or more parts. In Japan, the word ''cut'' (カット/カッティング/編集) is traditionally confused with a shot. In Chinese, cut is 剪輯/剪切/剪接/編輯.
Reverse Cut: Cut to reverse angle shot. In Japanese, it's called カットバック(in fact, it just literally means cutting back to a previous shot in Japanese). In Chinese, it's 反切/反拍剪接.
POV: Cut to a subjective view point. In Japanese, it's referred as a kind of shot, 主観ショット. In Chinese, it's also similar, 主觀鏡頭.
Reaction: Cut to reaction shots. In Japanese, it's literally リアクション. In Chinese, it's referred as a kind of shot, 反應鏡頭.
Insert / Cutaway: Cut to a detail shot or surroundings. In Japanese, it's referred as a kind of shot, インサート / 風景ショット(landscape shot; in fact, cutaway is not limited in this). In Chinese, it's also referred as a kind of shot, 插入鏡頭 / 空鏡頭 / 旁跳鏡頭. Some Japanese editors would use the katakana translation カットアウェイ but traditionally professional editors don't use the term, instead they refer to the object of the shot.
Sound Cut: Sound of the next shot overlaps with the outgoing shot. In both Japanese (サウンドカット) and Chinese (聲音剪接), there is no specific term for this.
2.Match Cuts (Apparently, ''multi''-camera op is to secure seamless match cuts)
Screen Direction Match: Screen direction (action) is matched with the incoming shot as a continuous movement. In Japanese, it's スクリーンダイレクション(一致). In Chinese, it's 銀幕/動作方向. Match is 連戲 / 匹配. Continuity editing is a term used in film criticism.
Eye-line Match: Eyeline of a character is matched (consistent) with the incoming shot. In Japanese, it's 視線(一致). In Chinese, it's 視線(連戲).
Angle Match: Angle between shots are matched. And this also includes same size of shots. In Japanese, it's 角度(一致). In Chinese, it's 角度(連戲).
Framing Match: Positioning of characters is matched between shots. And this also includes same size of shots. In Japanese, it's 構図(一致). In Chinese, it's 構圖(連戲). For instance, cutting from an OTS shot (over-the-shoulder shot) to another OTS shot.
Shape Match: Shape of objects is abstractly matched between shots. In both Japanese (形状一致) and Chinese(形狀契合), there is no specific term for this. Also, it includes morph.
Lighting and Colour Match: Literally, lighting and colour conditions between shots are matched. In Japanese, it's 照明/色(一致). In Chinese, it's 燈光/色溫(連戲).
Action Match: Ac action or camera movement between shots is matched. In Japanese, it's アクション編集/マッチカット(this term is mainly used as continuity editing in general). In Chinese, it's 動作(連戲；連戲剪接).
Note: Some Asian film educator wrongly confuses seamlessness of multi-camera edits with this action match. Both are slightly different because so called action match can be seen on single camera edits, too. Action match allows an editor to even cut actions of different objects.
Idea Match: Using shots to implicate specific meaning or make a metaphor. In Japanese, it's 暗示/比喩/意味の一致. In Chinese, it's 暗示/隱喻(連戲；襯托；意涵相一致). In fact, it's a cut between same or similar images not strictly limited in implication or metaphor.
Sound Match: Cut between same or similar sound. In Japanese, it's 音(一致). In Chinese, it's 聲音(連戲).
Rope Match: Cut between exactly same or tightly similar actions with or without black or coloured frame (s). In both Japanese (ロープ) and Chinese (奪魂索), there is no specific term for this.
Video Lecture Part 1 - Basic Cuts & Match Cuts
3. Rogue Cuts
Mismatch: Literal mismatch between shots. In Japanese, it's ミスマッチ. In Chinese, it's 不連(戲).
Jump Cut: Abruptive omission between shots. In Japanese, it's ジャンプカット. In Chinese, it's 跳接.
Crossing the Line: Violation of the 180 degree Rule / imaginary line. In Japanese, it's イマジナリーライン(越え). In Chinese, it's 跨線(越過180度假想線).
Bad Cut: It means narratively unnecessary and meaningless cut. In both Japanese (悪い編集) and Chinese (無必要的/不相關的剪接), there is no specific term for this.
4. Cuts That Use Basic Effects
Dissolve: A kind of transitional effect that dissolves a previous shot into an upcoming shot. In Japanese, it's オーバーラップ(it's terminological confusion). In Chinese, it's 溶接.
Fade In and Fade Out: Make a shot literally fade in (gradually appear) or out (gradually disapper) . In Japanese, it's フェードイン/フェードアウト. In Chinese, it's 淡入/淡出.
White Out: Making a fade out effect with white colour frames. In both Japanese (ホワイトアウト) and Chinese (白色淡出), there is no specific term for this.
Black Out: Cut to black frames. In both Japanese (ブラックアウト) and Chinese (切至黑色畫面), there is no specific term for this.
Flash Frame: Mechanically put a white or black or other colour frame(s) between shots. In both Japanese (フラッシュフレーム) and Chinese (放一格或幾格白色或黑色或其他顏色的畫面), there is no specific term for this.
Superimposition: Two or more shots or images are literally overlapped. In both Japanese (スーパー；二重露光；多重露光) and Chinese (重疊；雙重曝光；多重曝光), there is no specific term for this. The Japanese term narrowly means subtitles. Inset can be seen as superimposition.
Video Lecture Part 2 - Rogue Cuts & Cuts That Use Basic Effects
5.Cuts That Use Complex Effects
Wipe: A shot is gradually wiped out by upcoming shot. In Japanese, it's ワイプ. In Chinese, it's 劃接.
However, wipe could also be done within a shot via moving objects.
Green Screen / Blue Screen: Composition of a live action shot and a green screen shot. In Japanese, it's グリーンスクリーン/ブルースクリーン. In Chinese, it's 綠幕/藍幕.
Matte / Key: Put a shot within a shot. Such as rear projection. This term is generally confused with green screen composition. In Japanese, it's マット/マスク/合成. In Chinese, it's 遮蓋/合成. Inset can be seen as matte. Moreover, there is a specific term of production art in which matte means literally painted scenery staged in the background to form a shot. Also the concept won't exclude 'in-camera' matte like any other editorial concepts introduced here.
Split Screen: Split a screen frame of one shot into two or more screens with multiple shots. In Japanese, it's 画面割り/スプリットスクリーン. In Chinese, it's 分割畫面.
6.Cutting For Pace, Rhythm And Time (pace is speed, rhythm is a pattern of all movements and components)
Compressing Time: A kind of sequence cut that compresses time. In Japanese, it's 時間圧縮. In Chinese, it's 壓縮時間. Basic film units are a frame, a shot, a scene, a sequence and ACT. Editing is to cut all of them.
Smash Cut: A kind of short cut that uses a moment of a hit, smash or crash as a cut point. In both Japanese (スマッシュカット) and Chinese (撞擊剪切), there is no specific term for this.
Expanding Time: Different angles of the same action combined together. So called comic moment is created by this cut. In Japanese, it's 時間延長. In Chinese, it's 延長時間.
Stopping Time: A kind of cut that creates a temporal pause between shots but it doesn't freeze frame or time. This is more about narrative actions. In both Japanese (中断；ポーズ) and Chinese (中斷/暫停/休止/間歇), there is no specific term for this.
Subjective Time: A sequence cut that expresses subjective time of a character. It's about how the character feels a certain period of time. In both Japanese (主観的な時間) and Chinese (主觀的時間；時間感受), there is no specific term for this. For instance, a dream sequence or imagination.
Video Lecture Part 3 - Cuts That Use Basic Effects, Cuts That Use Complex Effects & Cutting For Pace, Rhythm And Time
Flash Cut: A kind of short cut that combines both compressing time and subjective time. And also it could be the beginning of flashback. In Japanese (フラッシュカット) and Chinese (閃接), there is no specific term for Japanese.
Subliminal Cut: Put certain frames between shots in order to express subconscious feelings. In Japanese, it's サブリミナル編集. In Chinese, it's 潛意識效果（剪接）.
Universal Time: Universalise narrative time with the audience. For instance, 'RIP', refers to monumental events or historical moments in sequence. In Japanese, it's 時間の普遍化. In Chinese, it's 敘事時間的普世化, , there is no specific term for both of them.