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What is the Basic Building Block of Film Editing

What is the Basic Building Block of Film Editing?

Film editing is one of the most interesting and exciting elements of a career in film if you’re the creative type that enjoys making the visual works come together in a final finished project that your client will love and appreciate. It’s an incredibly important part of the post-production process that represents the time where the story, and all the great footage that was captured by the rest of the camera crew, finally comes together so that the story can come to live. There’s a lot to learn about film editing, like, “What is the basic building block of film editing?” for starters.

BBP post production editing

When an aspiring film editor asks us what the basic building block of film editing is, we’re quick to explain: It’s the shot, and the cut.

Together, the shot and the cut are what make every other element that occurs in the film editing process to produce a finished video that brings the story together and incorporates the right sound, special effects, and additional inputs to ensure success. 

Before the Editor Gets Started, the Shots are Captured

Before the editors get started with the film, the camera crew will capture a variety of shots. The shots are captured in different sizes, at different angles, and of different elements of the scene.

Common shots that are likely to be delivered in raw footage to the film editor in order to begin the process of piecing together the final details include:

  • Extreme Close Ups
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  • Close Ups
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  • Medium Closeups
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  • Medium Shots
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  • Cowboy Shots
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  • Medium Full Shots
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  • Full Shots

These are all outlined in the shot list and produced during the production of the video. Shots make up the raw footage that is then provided for the film editor to begin working their magic.

The Cuts are The Second Building Block

So, when you ask, “What is the basic building block of film editing?” And we say, The shots and the cuts, it’s important to know exactly what that means. We’ve explained the “Shots” now let’s talk about the cuts and how they work.

In editing, the cuts are where the magic begins to happen on the screen. This is where all the excess moments that are not required from the raw footage are eliminated.

Cuts are going to splice together all of the important moments that occur in the many shots that were captured and together, the shots and the cuts are going to make up the final story.

Film editors can use the following cuts to end one shot and begin the next:

  • The hard cut
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  • The cross cut
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  • The jump cut
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  • The cutaway
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  • The match cut
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  • The contrast cut
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  • The parallel editing cut
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  • J and L cuts
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  • The dynamic cut
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  • The montage
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  • The invisible cut

Cuts are used to instill the pace of the film, transition between various shots, and tell the story from scene to scene, shot to shot throughout the story. Cutaways are used to hide jumpy or otherwise jittery edits that otherwise could be distracting or less than loved by the audience.

In addition to all these cuts and the various technical details that go into editing the film, editors also have the responsibility of adding key sound and special effects to the film.

Once the building blocks have been established and put into place, the rest of the important steps for the editor can come into play.

So the next time you ask, “What is the basic building block of film editing?” The short, easy to follow answer is shots and cuts are the prime building blocks to any professional, high quality film.

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