The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing (Full Documentary)

I have only truly understood the importance of an editor after watching the documentary, Cutting Edge. Cutting Edge documentary highlights the overlooked art of movie editing and it also portrayed the evolution of editing. One of the major lessons that I’ve learned in movie editing is the importance of frames. For example, during the documentary, Spielberg described the shots that were taken in the movie Jaws looking unreal, and he mentioned how his editor and he had to count the number frames that they had to keep to make the movie look non-fictional. He then described how the difference between having 13 frames or 10 frames could really alter how the movie looks tremendously. One of the things that were really fascinating to me was the idea of “changing your own lives” through editing.

A lot of interesting editing techniques were also portrayed here. For example, the editors would utilize fast transitional cuts from scenes to scenes to speed up the pace of the movie, complimenting an unexpected activity that happened quickly. The technique of time compression was also used to avoid the movie being draggy, for example, when someone is entering the building and walking up the stairs, the editor would remove the process of the person walking up the stairs and would just show him or her being on the second floor. This wouldn’t cause confusion as this is an action that we’re familiar with and therefore we would be able to understand the process.

Another technique that was shown is the concept of slowing down or speeding up the time to create impact and evoke emotions within the audience. This is particularly important as it allows the editors a chance to control the audiences’ reaction to the movie, for example, a fast-paced action would create chaos in the movie and a slow-paced action would make the action more dramatic. A close up is also one of the techniques that could be used to create a more dramatic effect, and this is known as the perception image, which is an image that mainly focuses on the perception of sight. There are, however, two other types of images; the action-image, which deals with the interaction between characters and their positions, and the affection-image, which targets the emotional experience felt by the audiences. The perception image allows the directors to control the view at which the audience sees an action, and this allows them the ability to control the way the audience interprets an event. I have also learned the technique called intercutting. Intercutting is the juxtaposition of montages to give a third meaning to the movie. It is commonly used to create a story as the incorporation of different scenes would create an emotional impact on the audience. An example of intercutting would be the use of flashback. Another type of cutting would be cross-cutting. Crosscutting is used in films to establish actions occurring at the same time, and usually at the same place. Through recording from a perspective and the use of voice-over, the editor could create a story about the subject of the movie while showing different places.

For my movie, I would probably incorporate a close-up shot, intercutting, crosscutting and voice-over. As my film will be based on Washington Square Park, a close-up shot would be used to provide personal thoughts regarding the park and through this, the audience would successfully examine the interviewee’s facial expression and emotions that they have towards the park. In addition to that, I would use voice-over and visual aids to provide information regarding the history of the park and this would successfully highlight the progression of the park since it first started, as the audience would be able to visualize the looks of Washington Square Park now. Also, the technique intercutting would be used to further allow the audience to visualize Washington Square Park better, as flashbacks between Washington Square Park back in the era and now would be used to enhance the audiences’ visualization. Crosscutting would be used to portray the different activities that commonly happen in the park, and hence highlighting the introduction of different cultures and tourism that happens in the park.

3 techniques and examples: 


Intercutting is the combination of shots from different scenes to create narration in a film or to interrupt a film to provide additional information. The most common example of intercutting would be the use of flashback, which is showed in this video where the blonde lady thought back to when she was a young and innocent girl with black eyes. In comparison to cross-cutting, intercutting usually are scenes from different locations. This technique is particularly useful in grabbing the viewers’ attention and putting them in the shoes of the characters. Editors would also utilize this technique to create tension and suspense that would ultimately lead to the climax of the movie. One of the rules while using intercutting would be that the editor has to make sure that the viewers don’t get lost during the shuffle of different scenes. In the movie the twilight saga, the editor used both a flashback and visual aids to help understand why she reacted the way she did towards Bella’s baby.


Voice-over is commonly used to provide a more intimate look into the characters’ mind due to its echo sound and this is also used to provide more information about the character. This would allow for open interpretation within the audience, as they would be able to judge the characters based on their thoughts. One of the advantages of voice-over is the background noise-canceling feature, and this enables editors to enhance the effects of the subject that they’re trying to focus. Thus, the audiences’ attention would be focused solely on the object. Another common advantage is that voice-over allows a story to be narrated better, as visual aids would be used to further convey the hidden meaning that the editor is trying to portray. This technique is shown in the video below where the editor is using voice-over and visual aids to allow the audience to understand the situation better. In this movie, the editor used blurry voice-over and the visual aid of the letters to portray how she was not focused on what he had to say, and that she was only focused on the letters.

Close-up shot

A close-up shot is when a certain feature takes up more than three-quarters of the frame, acting as the frame’s focal point. This technique is commonly used in documentaries, where facts and general information needs to be delivered. Editors sometimes would also utilize this technique to further exaggerate the character’s facial expressions and emotions, and this would be where the character would share their personal thoughts and feelings onto a particular subject. A close-up shot is also used to better connect the character with the audience, as the direct eye contact allows the audience to feel as if the characters are talking directly towards them. In this video, the editor uses a close-up shot to show the pain that she felt after finding out the truth about their “relationship”.

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