The Art of Film Editing Techniques for Birders

What is a film editing techniques?

Introduction to film editing:
Film editing is the process of selecting and joining together of bird video shots, connecting the resulting sequences, and ultimately creating a finished motion picture. It is an art of storytelling. As a birder we should always strive to make a difference by creating educating bird videos to help in the field of ornithology. New birders are introduced into the world of ornithology by watching bird videos and pictures captured during bird watching and birding trips. At the end of this article, we should know what film editing is, equipments for film making and recording. Birds movie filming is either taken for birds in flight, feeding, courtship, singing, predating, and bird bathing among other sceneries.

Film editing is the only art that is unique to cinema, separating film-making from other art forms that preceded it (such as photography, theater, dance, writing, and directing), although there are close parallels to the editing process in other art forms like poetry or novel writing. Film editing is often referred to as the “invisible art” because when it is well-practiced, the viewer can become so engaged that he or she is not even aware of the editor’s work.

On its most fundamental level, film editing is the art, technique, and practice of assembling shots into a coherent whole. A film editor is a person who practices film editing by assembling the footage. However, the job of an editor isn’t simply to mechanically put pieces of a film together, cut off film slates, or edit dialogue scenes. Producing great birding videos, a film editor must creatively work with the layers of images, story, dialogue, music, pacing, as well as the actors’ performances to effectively “redirect” and even rewrite the film to craft a cohesive whole. Editors usually play a dynamic role in the making of a film.
With the advent of digital editing, film editors and their assistants have become responsible for many areas of filmmaking that used to be the responsibility of others. For instance, in past years, picture editors dealt only with just that — picture. Sound, music, and (more recently) visual effects editors dealt with the practicalities of other aspects of the editing process, usually under the direction of the picture editor and director. However, digital systems have increasingly put these responsibilities on the picture editor. It is common, especially on lower budget films, for the assistant editors or even the editor to cut in music, mock up visual effects, and add sound effects or other sound replacements. These temporary elements are usually replaced with more refined final elements by the sound, music, and visual effects teams hired to complete the picture.

Film Editing Technique as an Art

Filming and editing is an art that can be used in diverse ways. It can create sensually provocative montages; become a laboratory for experimental cinema; bring out the emotional truth in an actor’s performance; create a point of view on otherwise obtuse events; guide the telling and pace of a story; create an illusion of danger where there is none; and even create a vital subconscious emotional connection to the viewer, among many other possibilities. Before motion pictures were edited, the movie camera was little more than a recording device. The elements of the editing process–storyline, location or setting, exploration of space, framing, and mise-en-scene, or action-to-action within the frame without a cut–were only beginning to be understood.

Advent of the Art of Editing

Early movies were considered a novelty–the breadth of intellectual material was limited and “waiting” for another component so the filmmaker could manipulate the audience in a more sophisticated manner. The dispute about who invented editing will rage on ad infinitum. Among the American contenders are D.W. Griffith, along with his editor James Smith, and Edwin. S. Porter. Sergei Eisenstein and a community of fellow Russian filmmakers, who ranged from the sublime, poetic, and political to the radical and experimental, are also in contention.
Edwin S. Porter is generally thought to be the American filmmaker who first put film editing to use. Porter worked as an electrician as a young sailor before joining the film laboratory of Thomas Alva Edison in the late 1890s. Early films by Thomas Edison (whose company invented a motion camera and projector) and others were short films that were one long, static, locked-down shot. Motion in the shot was all that was necessary to amuse an audience, so the first films simply showed activity such as traffic moving on a city street. There was no story and no editing. Each film ran as long as there was film in the camera. When Edison’s motion picture studio wanted to increase the length of the short films, Edison came to Porter. Porter made the breakthrough film Life of an American Fireman in 1903. The film was among the first that had a plot, action, and even a close-up of a hand pulling a fire alarm.

Other films were to follow. Porter’s ground-breaking film, The Great Train Robbery is still shown in film schools today as an example of early editing form. It was produced in 1903 and was one of the first examples of dynamic, action editing (the piecing together scenes shot at different times and places and for emotional impact unavailable in a static long shot). Being one of the first film hyphenates (film director, editor and engineer) Porter also invented and utilized some of the very first (albeit primitive) special effects such as double exposures, miniatures and split-screens.
The art and craft of editing is comprised of two overarching approaches–invisible and visible editing. Invisible editing is a cut that is hidden by strategy–a match cut where a prominent action within the frame is continued over the cut so the event is embraced by both Shot 1 of this moment through Shot 2. This phenomenon allows the creator to present a flow of images that tell a story without reminding the audience they are watching a motion picture. Where to make the cuts–outgoing of Shot 1, incoming of Shot 2–demonstrates the very essence of the invisible editing concept.

Film editing terms

The Film Editing Bench.
The editing bench is a worktable used for editing. It holds a variety of equipment for the immediate viewing of the film and cutting/splicing. The work bench normally has a pair of rewinds for finding specific shots and for rewinding the film; reels for holding the film; a viewer for finding and examining a shot; a synchronizer for keeping film and sound parallel and, if a sound head is attached, for playing the audio track; a splicer for cutting the film; and assorted materials such as china pencils, scissors, tape, and gloves.
The simplest editing is when you combine program portions by simply cutting the various videotaped pieces together into the proper sequence. The more care that was taken during the pre-production, the less work you have to do in the post production stage. Many editing assignments involve trimming the available material to make the final videotape fit a given time slot or to cut all extraneous material. This occurs in ENG editing, where you may have 10 minutes’ worth of exciting fire footage, but only 20 seconds to tell the story.
Editing is often done to correct mistakes, by cutting out the bad parts, and/or replacing them with good ones. This can be quite simple and may only involve cutting out a few seconds during which the talent made a mistake. It also can become quite challenging, especially if the retakes do not quite fit the rest of the recording, as to color temperature, background sounds, continuity, or field of view.
Therefore we can see that a great deal of work by the editor is done on the edit bench. From the cutting out of bad parts, and their subsequent replacement we can see that the editor needs a great deal of elbow room in order to be able to maneuver well on the edit bench. We have also seen how editing is done in conjunction with the director and other technical directors like the sound technician e.t.c. therefore elbow room is well needed in order to include all these and other important elements of production ( all the directors’) being worked into the actual editing. Hope you’ve gained some insight on the process of filming and editing bird movies.


Ash, Rene, The Motion Picture Film Editor. Scarecrow Press, 1974

Balmuth, Bernard, Introduction to Film Editing. Focal Press, 1989.

Crittenden, Roger, Film and Video Editing. Routledge, 1996.

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