Editing videos and films correctly (3/4)

As a formal principle

Editing Film and Video correctly (3/4): Editing as a formal principle
Editing Film and Video correctly (3/4): Editing as a formal principle

Like all film disciplines, editing videos is a trade with the potential of an art. Trade and artistic aspects of film editing can also be viewed from a purely formal aspect. Editing which is governed by high formal principles turns the effect of the film image into a style principle.

Editing as a formal principle is not only met (excessively) within the realms of art and experimental films. Alternating with further editing principles, the formally influenced cut can be found in almost all films and videos:


For purely aesthetic reasons, settings can be edited repeatedly one after the other. The outer form of the image dominates the contents. The fantastic, experimental documentary film “Samsara” (2001) by Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson follows this principle to a large extent.

The stringing together of settings can head towards a uniform statement as a collection of images or contradictions. The repetition can also take the character of a monologue (settings are similar in form, content, motif or movement) or of a dialogue (settings are not similar). The settings in repetitive editing are always in a reciprocal relationship. As people always try to recognise natural patterns and meaningfulness everywhere, they search for the meaning of the repetitions (similar to parallel editing), irrespective of whether this is striven for by the doers or not.

Editing is the visual language gained from the field of dynamism, speed, energy and strength. JEAN MITRY, FILM DIRECTOR

Leitmotifs only become more evident through their repetition as a leitmotif which can be recognised by the viewer. Leitmotifs can also take the form of a thought as a formal principle. If the leitmotif transpires as a repeated emergent feeling, the film or video can be lent a supporting underlying feeling


The rhythm of a film does not only depend on the editing. Movement plays an equally important role. Rhythm can also be used as an editing principle to enable the viewer to experience an attitude towards life from the cutting in the film.As a form principle, the rhythm is normally a fast sequence of short steps. Several fast fragments of reality combine them as a new reality with the desired effect.

Irrespective of the type of definition and independent of genre, talent and the cutter’s know-how: film-related rhythm cannot be equated with mathematical precision.

Editing videos and film: Learnings

The rhythm of a film is shown by its cut, but not exclusively so. A film’s rhythm is also determined by the way the camera is guided, the actors’ movements, the director’s orchestration, yes, even the language tempo of the voice-over commentary or the means of interpretation of the dialogues and naturally, also the music. They all contribute to the rhythm of a film being more than the mere total of its individual components.

Über Videothink Team 32 Artikel

Articles by the Videothink team are collaboratively-written by more than one member of the videothink publishing team.

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