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Film Editing: Should You Edit Scenes to Music?

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CreativeCOW presents Film Editing: Should You Edit Scenes to Music? -- Art of the Edit Tutorial


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Music can elevate the emotion of a film scene. As a film editor, should you first cut to music or focus on dialog and visuals alone? In this tutorial, This Guy Edits shares his point of view by example with a rough cut using some temp music by Max Elto.









THIS GUY EDITS is by film editor Sven Pape, an A.C.E. award nominee, whose credits include work for directors James Cameron, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and James Franco.

In this series, you can follow along as Sven cuts his latest film for Sundance filmmaker Mark Webber. Flesh & Blood is their third collaboration.

Several times a week THIS GUY EDITS (T.G.E.) will post update videos at his YouTube channel, This Guy Edits. You get to see the timeline and the editor's play-by-play-commentary as he cuts scenes. It shows work in progress.

Comments

Re: Film Editing: Should You Edit Scenes to Music?
by Mark Suszko
I think mosteverybody starts cutting by cutting to music and following the beat. It's easy, fun, and satisfying, but ultimately, you learn nuances like deliberately cutting off the beat and not always being so slavishly literal about the guide track because being too "on the nose" with the beat gets predictable and boring..

Cutting to music can be a trap, unless the music is pre-cleared for use in the final product. I've had the unhappy situation of cutting a lot of very tight, integrated edits to a specific song, then having to use a different song later, and it's a mess to fix.

What you're getting from cutting to a music track is a rhythm pattern, and an emotional/narrative base and arc. In those cases, you could swap out the tune and it holds together as long as the time signature and general pattern is similar.

I like to think of music and music cues as containers for emotional subtext, and subliminal hints to an audience of that to feel now and next.

I wonder, does anyone else put on mood music when editing or compositing, I mean music not ever destined for the actual product, but music to put your head in a particular frame of mind *as* you cut? When I'm doing news, photoshop or complex layering, I often play a bunch of James Brown, sometimes disco/EDM mixes. When cutting long narrative stuff, I've got instrumental jazz, reggae, or classical on the speakers in the suite, but not on the tracks.
@Mark Suszko
by Brett Sherman
Cutting on the beat is a really powerful device, and as such it should be used sparingly. You essentially dilute the power when you need it by doing it too much.

I tend to audition music while I'm editing, so I can get a sense of "that works" or "that doesn't", but it also helps me refine the mood I'm going for. It's surprising how many indefinable variables there are to music and how it matches the visual and story content.

--------------------------
Brett Sherman
One Man Band (If it's video related I'll do it!)
I work for an institution that probably does not want to be associated with my babblings here.


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