How Does an Editor Think and Feel?

Hi, my name is Tony, and this
is Every Frame A Painting The other day, someone asked me
to describe my editing process So I started talking about organizing
footage and doing selects And she said, “No, your actual process;
like, how do you know when to cut?” And I couldn’t
describe it at all! Like a lot of editors,
I cut based on instinct (Kahn) “Nothing gets in
the way of the editing process… It’s the process of your thinking. I don’t cut from
what I call ‘knowledge’. I have to come into it
and I have to feel it.” It’s the same way for me. I have
to think and feel my way through the edit So today, I’d like to talk
about that process: How does an editor
think and feel? The first thing you need to know is
that editing is all about the eyes More than any other factor, the eyes
tell you the emotion of the scene And the great actors
understand that they Convey more through
their eyes than through dialogue (Caine) “I said, ‘Well, I
haven’t got anything to say,’ So he said, ‘What do you mean
you haven’t got anything to say?’ He says ‘Of course you’ve got things to
say! You’ve got wonderful things to say! But you sit there and listen, think of
these extraordinary things to say… “Elliot, sweetheart!”
“Mhm?” “Have you tried these?
These are wonderful!” …and then decide not to say them!
(Laughter) That’s what you’re doing!'” And when I’m watching footage,
this is what I’m looking for: Moments where I can see
a change in the actor’s eyes Like when he’s
making a decision Shots like these are powerful because
they work so well with other shots For instance, when we cut from
his eyes to what he’s looking at It tells us, without words,
what he’s thinking The next concept was
really hard for me to learn: Emotions take time When we watch people on screen,
we feel a connection to them And that’s because we have time
to watch their faces before they speak (Speaking Chinese) (Door shuts) And time to watch
them afterwards Editors have to decide: “How
much time do I give this emotion?” So let’s try an exercise:
look at this shot What do you feel
while watching this? Now let’s try it again What do you feel
while watching this? Was it a different emotion? Editing is full of
decisions like these, Where four seconds
makes a big difference And these choices are difficult.
There are no right answers Some emotions play better if you
see them in a single, continuous shot (Speaking Chinese) But other emotions play
better over multiple shots, So you can build up
and come down Consider this scene, where
Luke Skywalker tests his skill (Breathes out) To make this simpler, let’s just focus on
how long each shot is held for Notice that as we build, each shot gets
shorter and shorter towards the climax (Inspirational music playing) (R2 beeps) But after five shots, we hit
the peak and start coming down (Yoda sighs softly, sadly) Not only are the shots getting longer
again, they’re actually held for longer than they were
the first time And this whole sequence spends about 15
seconds going up, but twice that amount coming down, so that we, the audience,
have time to feel Luke’s failure (Breathing heavily)
“I can’t, it’s too big.” But what happens if
you shorten this timing? Let’s take a look at a very similar
scene, done more recently See if you can feel
the difference (Hank) You can do
it Scott, come on! (Ant laughs) (Scott) They’re not
listening to me! Did you believe
that emotion? Because in this scene, Scott’s
failure took 30 frames By comparison,
Luke Skywalker’s failure Took 30 seconds People aren’t machines, We need time to
feel the emotion, And if the movie
doesn’t give it to us… We don’t believe it. (Schoonmaker) “And I’m finding
in movies, recently, that I’ve seen, A lot of things
I don’t believe. I think people are
sticking stuff out there And asking you
to believe it, But they’re not making
you believe it.” And making it believable
is really hard. (Man) “Let Red go.” Because timing is not
a conscious process, You’re just responding
to the fact That every shot has
a natural rhythm (Three gunshots) (Wood breaking) (Murch) “There’s an in-built relationship
between the story itself and How to tell a story, and the rhythm
with which you tell it, And editing is… 70% about rhythm.” (Man yelling at woman) Sometimes the rhythm
is obvious, Like when the actor is doing
something really physical (Music intensifying) But other times
it’s quite subtle For instance, the rhythm of
people walking back and forth Or the rhythm of a restaurant,
with cooks, customers, waitresses… These rhythms are closer to
what we feel in everyday life, And, I actually think
they’re harder to edit But if you watch anything over and over
again, you eventually feel the moment When the shot
wants you to cut Classical Hollywood editing is
all about cutting with the rhythm And this is what we mean when
we say that editing is invisible The cut happens
so naturally (Man) “Now is there anything else
you’d like to know about me?” That you don’t
notice it. (Man) “Would you like
to go over to my room?” But you don’t always
have to be invisible Some emotions play better
if you cut in a jarring way, Like if someone
is agitated (Heels clicking on floor) And other moments
play better If you actually cut to make
the audience uncomfortable. (Water sizzling) (Schoonmaker) “One of the things Marty’s
always encouraged us to do is to Sometimes hold just
a little bit too long… (Water sizzling) And then make a cut,
if it’s justified.” What really matters is, what
reaction you want from people (Two gunshots) Because sometimes, you can
only get that with an unusual cut And that brings me
to my last point: If editing is so instinctive,
how do you learn it? I only know
one way: Practice. (Murch) “And editing is very
similar to dance in that way, You can explain the
rudiments of dance, But to really learn how to
dance, you have to dance.” You have to cut. And as you cut, you’ll develop
a sense of rhythm and emotion That’s unique to you. I’ve been doing it for ten
years and I’m still not there But whenever I’m frustrated by an edit,
I think about something Michael Khan said (Khan) “The beautiful
thing about editing is, I guess maybe
writers feel that way, I see all that film up there, doesn’t
matter, I’m doing one piece at a time One scene at a time,
one cut at a time. And there’s a lot of film,
I just do one thing at a time.” So take it one shot
at a time, Because if you watch
any image, (Man) “You really care?” You’ll see it has an
emotion and a rhythm (Woman sniffing
and breathing heavy) And you have
to feel… When… To… Subtitles by the community


  1. ezra damie June 27, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    very awesome knowledge

  2. dragan lazarevic June 30, 2019 at 7:04 pm

    I think i watched this video more than 20 times and still gripped with it … Great job

  3. Vera Dragilyova July 1, 2019 at 5:56 am

    "When to…!"–this was such a beautiful moment, that it made me cry! Thank you for this video!

  4. Giovanni Mahoney July 2, 2019 at 3:34 am

    1:07 – 1:31 hit me kind of hard to be honest

  5. saphina makungu July 8, 2019 at 8:48 am

    I wish to meet this great editors one day and work with them

  6. Feathermason July 14, 2019 at 9:44 pm

    who cares!?…them dang editors always dissect my superb,well timed,exquisite,sensual dolly moves> THEY AINT THERE AT THE MOMENT>THEY AINT THERE AT THE FRONT LINES…they only 'change' the moment..ALL THEY WANT IS 'COVERAGE' to cover they're lame insecure arses,like many 'directors'>meant for TV 'editors'…ya right..emotions..hows aboot 'production value' ; LETS SEE THE SET I PAID FOR says the Producer…@ 6:57 > WHAT? you dont notice it..ARE YOU KIDDING??? YOU CANT BE SERious…Film editors though have more grace..but still…Think a better,more poignant question is ' what does a Dolly Grip think and feel ?'..there you have raw intel where talent meets talent..editors,ha! They just wrap the goodies with plastic and a Best Before date…10 yrs eh?..ever feel celluloid in your hands? A and B rolls? A Steenbeck ?..why are there so many editors,assistant editors,friends of editors,blah,blah these days?..cause 'digital capturing' just keeps the computer-camera 'rolling'>Discipline on set,in the Biz is GONE.. Rolling by the way refers to film and audio tape physically moving thru genius-made instruments.Analog..was a artful craft…..CUT!…PRINT….Moving on………..

  7. Abner Pariah July 15, 2019 at 4:19 am

    Poetry and editing. Twins

  8. Mehdi Husain July 17, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    We miss you

  9. Adam Kreuz July 18, 2019 at 3:24 pm

    I love discovering why I feel a certain way about scenes in films. Thank you for the breakdown, love it

  10. Cheng- Han Yu July 19, 2019 at 7:39 pm


  11. Alan Mauro July 19, 2019 at 8:38 pm

    Editing is also predicated on how the scene was shot, like camera movement for example. The scene from Taxi Driver is a good example where the shot slowly closes in on De Niro and the glass, giving the editor a clue as to how long to hold the shot. It could've been shot with static shots, which wouldn't warrant holding the shot, necessarily. Also, the acting plays a big role as to whether or not you hold their expression (context within the scene or even the whole story, for example). Watching this makes me wonder why certain directors, like Scorsese, wouldn't be the editor. After all, they shot it by giving the editor choices, so for a visionary like Scorsese it seems odd to me that he turns his work over to others to make that choice. Doesn't he have an overall vision of how the film should look and feel? This is why other visionary directors like Kubrick also had a hand in the editing (and in Kubrick's case, everything else).

  12. Ashton Sr July 21, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    CUT 9:08

  13. SK N July 22, 2019 at 1:47 am

    im fine, thank you

  14. Mono Visual Art July 22, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    Good stuff !

  15. thomas makucevich July 22, 2019 at 11:15 pm

    How much involvement does the director typically have in the editing process?

  16. mrxshep July 23, 2019 at 4:54 am

    I miss Tony so much…

  17. Pappetsu July 28, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    Isn't this guy from that japanese TV show Takeshi Castle? 7:45

  18. Traffic Light July 29, 2019 at 12:30 am

    I like film montage, but I'm annoyed at how it's a bit of an elitist thing when it comes to film. There are plenty of people who can make amazing edits, but will simply never get the opportunity to work or even practice on bigger projects. Let alone make a living from it. Technically speaking, it's not that hard at all. You learn a couple of rules and further just trial and error till it feels good.

  19. Guilherme Tonon August 2, 2019 at 1:00 am

    yeah….the second video that I saw and it is as I thought….you are GREAT.

  20. Kenny Wallace August 5, 2019 at 8:52 am

    So how do we compare editing styles, for example action movies from the east vs action movies from the west? I remember Jackie Chan talking about how the west butchered his fight scenes with very fast close up cuts as opposed to the east where they tends to have single continuous full frame shots. Personally I prefer how the scenes are shot in the east. Iko Uwais had the same reaction after he saw the final edit of his fight scenes in 22mile. The contrast is stark between the two styles.

  21. Evan Wedsworth August 7, 2019 at 7:48 pm

    Tony, where'd you go? I rewatch your stuff every month or so. Come back! New videos please

  22. 蔡俊賢 August 12, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    好文 。

  23. 蔡俊賢 August 12, 2019 at 3:03 pm


  24. enilenis August 22, 2019 at 5:35 am

    When I edit, I always pretend that I don't know what happens next. I ask myself of all the things I have, what would I expect to see? And sometimes it's like a puzzle piece. You try them all until something clicks. Sound helps a lot. Visuals have a tonality to them. You can express any type of motion with a sound effect. So you can use sound clips as band-aids that bridge the sections. When sound cuts along with the video it feels weird. It's nice to have things overlap in layers. One shot may hand off to another easily because the color palette matches, another one may have the same focal point. Like playing domino's. You look for a matching side, and you don't always know what it is until you put things side by side. If something almost works, you massage the seam into place. You correct to produce a better match. Play with speed, transition. After a while you get better at it and can test cuts in your head. You keep a library of markers and then spot while you watch a perfect transition point. You create all the lines and then fit them together until there are no loose ends. It doesn't always work. Working on personal videos, you do reshoots as you edit. You realize you're missing an angle, and just go and shoot exactly what you're expecting to see. You know how to bridge A and B, and it's easier to create from scratch. With features it's more difficult. You are pressured to work with what you have and not reveal the uncomfortable news – that something's missing. The good thing is that you often know exactly what you need.

  25. tan thanh August 28, 2019 at 2:48 am

    love it

  26. Chunt The Badger August 31, 2019 at 3:27 am

    This is the worst ending ever! What happened to Tony!?

  27. Captain Obvious September 1, 2019 at 12:36 am

    The most rewatchable every frame video.

  28. Shivam. September 2, 2019 at 2:41 pm

    There is so much thought process that goes into making a scene, both the director and editor have to make such important decisions thousands of times and I think it's just beautiful how everything just fits in together. btw, Loved the ending.

  29. sophia ! September 3, 2019 at 2:45 am

    I’m hoping to become an editor in the future so this really motivated me and taught me a lot. Thank you!!

  30. Derpy TW September 5, 2019 at 1:06 am

    im not sure if the ant man scene was even incorrectly cut. i thought personally that it was intentionally cut so that it seemed like he was not actually trying at all. like an apology that is not genuine.

  31. Marie Soleil September 10, 2019 at 9:20 am

    Excellent video, explains everything a non-professional or a viewer needs to know, but it would be more fascinating if there were more examples. I found the examples exceptionally interesting!

  32. Robert Graefe September 12, 2019 at 6:46 am

    All of your videos that I have seen so far are amazing!

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