Framing and Montage

Click to embiggen
Click to embiggen
Click to download Handout

As promised, here is the handout version of the slides from today. The key things to remember are the difference between editing and montage, and to have an understanding of how montage can be used to advance the story. The documentary I referenced is The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing (<- Clickable link to YouTube), and the clips I used came from the following films:

You should also carry out a YouTube search for things like Rocky Training Montage for other examples of montage being used to shorten time. Feel free to share any interesting montages you find in the comments.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: October Workshop – THURSDAY 22nd!


Hi everyone… There’s a new date for the workshop. It will now take place on THURSDAY 22nd OCTOBER. The plan is to start at about 9:30am with a session on cameras and filming. There’ll be some simple exercises for you to carry out that should improve your filming. Then, we’ll break for a bite of food at about 12. The afternoon session will start about 12:30 and will cover basic editing skills. I’m aiming to finish about 3pm.

filepicker-vawFINbnQJ2Szh0ngW4t_movie_cameraYou will need to sign in and out at the desk next to the janitor’s office in the main concourse. 🙂

While I will be able to provide some cameras and lights, you would be advised to bring your own equipment as much as possible… and this is especially true for the basic editing in the afternoon. Ideally, you should bring your own laptop with some video editing software on it. Leave me a comment if you need help with this… preferably sooner rather than later.

I’m looking forward to a useful day that should set you up nicely for the actual filming.


And… Action!

Given that some of you will be using Final Cut Express (FCE) to edit your films, I thought I’d just post this link for you. It’s an excellent series of training videos/tutorials for FCE from the rather good IzzyVideo site. You’ll notice that Izzy charges for his more up-to-date tutorials but the FCE course is available for free online. The videos are hosted on YouTube as well as on his website, but I’d recommend using his site as there are other hints and tips kicking around on it.

LINK: Learn Final Cut Express


The Engines Cannae Take It…

Hi class,

Thanks for trying to make sense of what I was doing…  think we’ve all realised I was being far too ambitious. That said, it’ll allow me to hone the idea.

Here are the initial ‘rules’ with slight revisions.

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And here is the sheet with all the cards on it. I’ve already realised I have too many ‘People Cards’, and I think they are too specific, so they will be changed very quickly.Click this link to download => Read All About It

As you know, this is a work in progress, and I already have several ideas for making it work better, but I’d really appreciate any thoughts you have. Once I can get this working, I’m intending having it printed onto playing cards so it is much easier to use. We’ll look at actual Press judgements tomorrow. You can have a look for yourself by visiting the old Press Complaints Commission adjudication page here: PCC Adjudication Page.


For Pity’s Sake… Think Of The Baby!

And, talking about editing, here are the two clips I showed. The first is from Act IV of Battleship Potemkin (dir. Sergei Eisenstein, Russia, 1925). The Odessa Steps clip is one of the most famous in film history because on a technical level it broke new ground in editing and montage.

The second is an homage to Battleship Potemkin and comes from The Untouchables (dir. Brian De Palma, USA, 1987).

The parallels are obvious (the steps, the baby in the pram, sailors). This is an example of a technique called intertextuality. A prior text is used to shape and inform a new text… or put another way… when you see something in a film (or any other text) and it reminds you of something else, you should consider whether it is evidence of intertextuality. As a final wee example, consider this interesting reading of Terminator: Salvation and its use of intertextuality. Enjoy! 🙂

Some Technical Terms

Hope you enjoyed the clips today (I’ll give links at the end of this post). There were three main terms I was interested in. They were:

  • Continuity editing;
  • Parallel editing; and,
  • Single shot / Steadicam.

Continuity editing:

refers to the established convention of telling a single story/narrative episode in a strictly linear (one thing follows another sequentially) fashion. In short, the story should flow in as unobtrusive way as possible. In practice, almost every story you will have written in English will have been like this!

In terms of film/TV, there’re a couple of things you need to remember when analysing or creating a product.

  1. 180˚ Rule, and
  2. Eyeline match.

Both of these terms are fully explained (and exemplified) on the film110 wiki. There’s also a handy slide deck on Slideshare that explains the key concept well enough for our needs. Here it is:

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 19.28.41And for those with more time to spare, there is a really good documentary about film editing available on YouTube. It’s 100 minutes long, but fascinating and will teach you lots about the power of editing in telling the story. Click the picture of Spielberg if you want to watch it… and yes, it is worth watching!

Parallel editing

This is an edit that uses cross-cutting to link two separate narratives. There is a clear and concise explanation of this on the worthwhile Elements of Cinema blog. LINK.

Single shot/Steadicam

The introduction of lighter cameras and then, in 1976, the Steadicam, allowed filmmakers to find new ways of realising their visions. I used a well regarded example from Goodfellas. The joy of the ‘steadicam’ shot in Goodfellas is that it is used quite deliberately to bring us (the audience) in to the gangster’s world. It opens outside the club with the car being ‘parked’ ($20!) before Henry (Ray Liotta) and Karen (Lorraine Bracco) cross the street. They walk through (across) the queue, and descend into the club’s basement area. The wall decorations as they descend depict a bright jungle scene (lots of toucans!), but does this suggest Copacabana (the name of the club) or is it an allusion to the innocence of the Garden of Eden? (She is ‘innocent’ at this time… and being Jewish, is less likely to have encountered the ‘goodfella’ mafioso culture of his world).

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 19.52.16
Click to embiggen!

The doors open to a red corridor (red carpet, walls, ceiling and doors) and waiters in red jackets. Henry leads Karen through the kitchen (note that they go in what is essentially a pointless circle…) mainly to establish that Henry knows everyone and everyone knows Henry. They enter into the crowded club where the owner immediately says hello before ordering a table to be prepared for them right at the front. They sit, and Henry says hello to the men sitting behind them before being presented with a bottle of extremely expensive champagne by some men at a table to our left. Karen is, understandably, extremely impressed and leans over to ask “What do you do?”

It’s a tour de force of cinema as it marries the technology (steadicam) with the literal descent into the club, and a metaphorical descent into hell (you’ll need to see the whole film to work out why!).

Anyway… that’s more than enough to keep you busy and/or entertained for now! The clips we watched in class were from:

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 19.56.30 , Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 19.57.27 & Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 19.58.27

Click the poster to be taken to the imdb page for each. 🙂