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Movies and Film

From Shooting to the Final Product

Excluding the additional steps necessitated by modern nonlinear editing, traditional editing goes through most of the following stages.

Before the Cutting: Storyboarding and Shooting

Surprisingly, editing can begin in the mind of the scriptwriter and/or director before the first shot has been fired. This stage is called storyboarding, and consists of actually drawing the various shots that will be included in the movie. Some directors storyboard a film so carefully as to minimize the input of both the photographer and the editor.

Even while shooting, filmmakers must keep the editor in mind by, for example, making certain that a great enough variety of shots has been taken so that the editor can crosscut, match-on-action, cut to continuity, and so on. Editors are dependent on directors and cinematographers to provide the appropriate amount of coverage of an actor's performance. Too much may give a choppy sense of the actor's performance, as the editor has to choose between a number of "takes." Too little coverage ("undercovering"), or trying to shoot simply the shots the director believes will be needed ("cutting the picture in the camera") results in perhaps choppy editing, or not enough options for assembling a sequence.

The Editing Process

Typically, after the day's shooting, the developed but unedited bits of film—the dailies—are projected so that decisions can be made about which takes are to be used in which order and for what duration. A rough cut is assembled: the film shots in the right order but with little or no attention paid to the kind of edits used, and only a rough sense of the timing of each shot. Either now or later sound is also mixed in with the visuals. (See "Film: Sound in Movies") After going through a fine cut, when the edits are further refined, the editor (and director) decide on the final cut, which is the form the film will take on release to the public.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Movies and Film © 2001 by Mark Winokur and Bruce Holsinger. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order the e-book book direct from the publisher, visit the Penguin USA website. You can also purchase this book at Amazon.com.

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