In the Blink of an Eye – Walter Murch’s Editing Theory Tested


Hello there and welcome to another
episode of This Guy Edits, where you get to see this guy edit. So today I’m going to share one of
my favorite editing secrets. It’s something that I
would love to take credit for, but it actually comes from one of the Greats, from Walter Murch, who’s an Academy Award-winning editor, who wrote a book called “In the Blink of an Eye”. Right there. A book that I’ve got from when I went to film school. And this is really the one that has stuck with me and that I keep reading over again over the years. And one of the key things that I took away from it is, how the blinking of an actor will most likely have an effect on the editing. So I’m going to share a little bit of what that means on a specific example. As you might know from previous episodes I’m currently cutting a new feature directed by Mark Webber, that he just finished shooting in Pennsylvania and we’re now moving into the
post-production phase. And I started cutting the rough cut. And the thing I wanted to talk to you about is how the blinking of the actors has an influence
on me editing. Take a look at the scene. And also pay attention to how the actors are moving their eyes and are blinking. (You okay?) (Yeah) (Yes, I had a bad dream.) (I gotta get ready for school.) Okay, I’ll take it up to here. Obviously both actors were blinking at some point in the scene. According to Walter
Murch, and I actually feel this too, you can sort of follow the thought process of an
actor by the way he blinks. The theory is that if he blinks he
changes his thought, or he has completed a thought, he blinks, takes a break, and then starts a new thought. If you are in the middle of cutting a scene and you’re cutting between two actors pay attention to the way that the performers are blinking, and see when the thought is completed, or when it feels like they’re moving on to something else, they’re looking somewhere else, or they’re blinking, and they are refocusing and see if it makes sense to cut just before or after that blink. Because you’re thought might be completed at that point. So that’s the theory and you
still sort of have to feel it, and you really have to use the intuition as your editing to see what feels right. Another thing that Walter Murch says is good editing is invisible editing, or he even says great editing is invisible editing. You can be a good editor and then it looks good, and people feel like it is good. But if they don’t even notice the editing. If they’re just in touch with
the story directly, that’s great editing. And one way to
achieve that is to use blinking, or where the eyes are moving. Let’s look at the scene one more time. (You Okay?) (Yeah.) There you go, something’s happening there in this shot. Mark looks at Gee, he looks away, and he looks at him again. And it feels as if he’s considering how much is he gonna reveal of that dream. (You okay?) (Yeah.) (Yes, I had a bad dream.) It’s not a hundred percent perfect cut
yet. I still feel a little bit of a jar. (Yes, I had a bad dream.) But for now I think it works. And now here the question is when do I cut? And you can see Gee is blinking right at the end. I could potentially cut before he blinks. I kind of like it the way it is. I’m just going to extend it for now and
see what else is happening here. The length right here. And then there’s
another one, oh that’s actually nice. Right here. Let’s try that and see
how that feels like. (Yes, I had a bad dream.) I feel that’s good. (I gotta get ready for school.) And then here Mark is blinking. (I gotta get ready for school.) Then he’s looking over. And I really like what his eyes are doing as the line starts “I gotta get ready for school “. Paying attention to that. And then he’s back in his own world. Let’s look at that. He blinks. (I get ready
for school.) He listens. He considers and he’s back in
his own world fighting his demons. So that kind of works. Maybe that blink at the beginning is a
little too abrupt. I’m going to give it more room and I
kind of want to always play things in real time, and feel where the edits are, or
could potentially be. It’s a little dangerous to move frame by frame by frame to find the exact edit point. It should work in real time. (I gotta get ready for school.) It’s a little bit too long. I do like to
spend a long time on Gee’s close up, for me in close up, because it’s really the first time we get a good look at him in the movie, and it is also very stunning shot that makes me feel a lot. Again that’s his brother
he hasn’t seen for five years so when Mark got into prison his little brother
was basically a kid, and now he’s starting to become a grown-up. So I like spending time with Guillermo. But let’s see if we’re spending too much time with Mark. He blinks. He blinks again. (I gotta get ready for school.) Now it might work actually. It shows a little awkwardness between
the two. And then that end point looks good as well. I think it’s okay to give these
characters room to get to know each other, and give us the opportunity to get
to know them. So for first rough-cut I think it’s a
good effort. It can still change quite a bit,
especially once I know really what the overall feel of the movie is, the pacing,
the tone. Once again I can highly recommend this
book by Walter Murch “In the Blink of an Eye”. I’ll leave a link to the book where you
can get it and it’s a quick read. And it’s something that will stick with
you. Thanks for watching and I’ll see you on the next one.

8 Comments

  1. Pedro Camargo January 10, 2019 at 7:04 pm

    Thanks for sharing such a rich content with us <3

  2. Edgar Bleikur January 28, 2019 at 10:15 am

    Almost like yawning

  3. Payton January 29, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    Cut on the blink!

  4. Pattabhi Koteswara Rao Creative Studio March 30, 2019 at 2:03 pm

    Sir plz mention the name of editing software plz plz plz…..

  5. Sancti July 21, 2019 at 10:04 am

    A VERY interesting insight beautifully explained. Thank you.

  6. BabyG July 24, 2019 at 7:00 am

    Wow, found this video by accident but glad I did. Currently reading In the Blink of an Eye and think this video is amazing in showing what a difference it makes when you actually pay attention to the eyes and how the blink represents different thoughts entering and leaving someones mind. Applying this toward editing is simply genius. Loving this book and loving your video.

  7. InTheLoop August 22, 2019 at 9:49 am

    Do you recommend any other books ?

  8. Petru B. November 26, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    but then it looks like their eyes are open all the time

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