best books for film editing

The Best Books on Film Editing

Whether you’re shooting a movie or an ad, film editing is a crucial part of your post-production process. The best books on film editing will provide you with insight into managing film editing and making the process more successful. 

The purpose of film editing is to create a polished finished product that viewers will find useful and intriguing. However, it’s quite normal to struggle as an editor because there are many details involved in the film editing process. Keep on reading to learn more about the best books on film editing. 

Tips for Better Film Editing

Your purpose as a film editor is to deliver a high-paced film with an exciting rhythm. You also don’t want to spend too much time editing your project to provide the desired result. Continuous research is crucial to improve your editing skills, so I’ve gathered some of the best film editing tips that can help you edit like a real pro. 

Focus on the Pace

This is the most important factor that will affect the quality of the final product. When the pace is too fast, people will feel lost, as they won’t be able to understand your video. If the pace is too slow, people might get bored and will eventually lose interest in watching the rest of your film.

Determine What Sets the Essence of the Scene

The scene’s main driver can either be the music effect, the background scenery, the dialogue, or even a motif or a symbol that appears every few shots. Identify what this is and start by editing it to make sure that you’ve set the essence of the whole scene. 

Cut Tight

The key to successful editing is to cut tight without jumping between scenes. Deleting unnecessary scenes or pauses will improve the pace of your video. 

The preliminary cut of your film shouldn’t be far away from the 90-minutes mark. Most of your potential audience won’t be interested in a movie that runs a lot longer. If your initial cut runs for 200 minutes or more, you’ll have a challenging job to finish your final movie. 

Matched Action

A successful film editor should be able to edit the scenes to enhance the scene’s emotions and help the audience understand the story by improving matched actions to mask the cuts. Mismatched actions can affect the continuity of the scene, so you need to make sure that they’re eliminated so the audience would be emotionally involved with the scene. 

Build your Scenes

Building edits is usually better than trimming down your scenes. If you have a fat timeline that you can’t seem to trim down successfully, you can start by building a story timeline with your best shots. This will make the final edit short, to the point, and entirely made of the best shots that you have worked on. 

Best Books on Film Editing

Whether you’re starting your film editing journey or have been studying it for years, these books will educate you about the best techniques to follow, mistakes to avoid, and tips to enhance your edited films. Check out these top picks. 

  1. In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing

In his book, Walter Murch shares his vivid insight on film editing. Starting with the most basic questions, the book takes you on a journey that covers all aspects of editing that an aspiring professional might be involved in. 

Focusing on continuity, discontinuity, criteria of good cuts, and the emotional aspect of film editing, this is an excellent choice for beginners as it’s brief but thorough. However, the book doesn’t provide enough insight into digital film editing, so it might seem a little bit outdated to some readers. 

What We Like

  • Complete guide to film editing.
  • Covers most of the fundamental questions. 
  • Brief covering of editing issues. 

What We Don’t Like

  • Doesn’t focus on digital editing.
  1. Writing for the Cut: Shaping Your Script for Cinema

Greg Loftin encourages editors to look at film editing from the eyes of scriptwriters. It will provide the needed inspiration if you’re trying to view your career as an editor from a different perspective. 

The book discusses several techniques that can help you improve your film editing profession, like the idea of juxtaposition, which focuses on the collision of images to bring a specific memory to the mind of the viewer. It can also be used by scriptwriters. 

Exploring overlapping images and explaining how the cut tells the story of the film is what this book is all about. However, it doesn’t cover all the basic technical issues related to editing, so it will be more suitable for more professional editors. 

What We Like

  • Focuses on exploring editing from the eyes of a scriptwriter. 
  • Can be used by a scriptwriter to write for proper editing. 
  • Inspiring editing techniques. 
  • More suitable for experienced editors. 

What We Don’t Like

  • Doesn’t cover all the technical issues of editing. 
  1. On Film Editing: An Introduction to the Art of Film Construction

This is an excellent classic book for beginner film editors as it focuses on the basics of film editing. Director Edward Dmytryk explains the concept of film editing by focusing on the insights of other professionals involved in the process like cameramen, scriptwriters, producer, and director. The new 2018 release includes an introduction by Andrew Lund.

The book explains the whole process from the very beginning, providing examples and short stories to explain how it’s done. This how-to-guide is a must-have if you’re starting your journey as an editor. 

With a career spanning five decades, he has a lot of information to share. However, this book was written in 1984, so it might sound a bit outdated since it doesn’t focus on trendy digital editing techniques. 

What We Like

  • A classic book that focuses on film editing basics. 
  • Introduces examples and stories to explain the techniques of film editing. 
  • A simple to follow how-to-guide. 
  • Suitable for beginners. 

What We Don’t Like

  • Not suitable for more professional editors. 
  • A bit outdated.

Wrap Up

A little reading might be what you need to take your film editing practices to the next level. With lots of written material on the market, these books will provide you with precious knowledge that can help you explore new areas of film editing. 

Written by Rick@