Sunday, 2 December 2012

Walter Murch's 'In The Blink Of An Eye'

In The Blink of an Eye (Second Edition)’  by Walter Murch was very informative in regards to his editing styles and found this very interested.

I did enjoy reading this book; many of the chapters were very enlightening. I’ve had an interest in editing since studying Creative Media for A-Level, but never fully understood the reasons why certain styles or cuts were used, and how effective they were on the audience. Even though I’d experienced editing in my first year, I didn’t learn too much about what was behind the cut and what the rules were in regards to the style or theme of the film, I learnt more about technical aspects, and therefore this book has helped me greatly in regards to analysing films and also helping me determine which cuts would be best and where it would work best with my audience.

One of the chapters that stood out to me was the chapter containing Walter Murch’s theory on blinking – he believed that the concept of blinking is associated with trains of thought, and in my opinion, this didn’t completely make sense to me – does this mean that every time we think of something new, even just a new word to continue the train of thought we blink? Every time we create a new thought or action we blink? It didn’t seem to work in this aspect for me, however I could understand how this theory could link to cutting action films, but doesn’t match every style of film.

I found out a little about Murch before reading this book fully, and once again the rule of six intrigued me – that an editor should edit for six main points – Emotion being the most important to story, rhythm, eye-trace, two dimensional plane of screen and three dimensional space of action. I think these rules once again link to a particular style of film, for example a drama will focus on emotion, because you want the audience to emphasize with the character, whereas in an action, the idea of the three-dimensional space seems more important to present to the audience. It’s a good guide to cutting films, however I feel it could be altered depending on the genre of the film you are editing.  

Another interesting theory I found was the bee theory. This is the idea that the audience can allow themselves to not be dependent on a clear new setting, or it’s similarity to the previous shot. The cuts that are subtle and ‘invisible’ are successful, then the audience can recognise different context but if there is a displacement (a jump of some form) then the audience notice and make them re-evaluate the situation, creating a mental ‘jarring’ within the film.

I also like the idea that the editor gets to look at the footage as ‘fresh’ and make more rash decisions than those who were involved in the production. Because the editors are unaware as to what happened on the shoot, they can look at the footage with a variety of possibilities and try more complicated cuts and decisions to bring the final piece together. In this sense, Murch stated that it was best that the editor tries only to see what’s on the screen in front of them and work in a mind-set that they are part of the audience.

Even though these techniques were written about Murch’s work on 16mm film, they do still make sense and work with the editing styles of today. Even though we’ve moved onto more digital editing, the ideas of emotional cutting and keeping the editor’s eyes fresh is still important in this sense, and therefore these points will, in my opinion, always be a key aspect when it comes to editing.

Overall the book was very inspiring, it includes many techniques and quotes which have opened my eyes to different ideas of styles of editing myself – as well as also knowing that the audience always needs to be considered, but not given everything.

Suggestion is more important than exposition.

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