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Week 4: In the Blink of an Eye - A Perspective on Film Editing by Walter Murch

For someone who is new to film production and/or post-production, Walter Murch's insights on film editing provides me a well of knowledge. However, what I liked even better about this reading, was the fact that it was specifically from Murch's perspective and not a textbook-like analysis.

First, I was interested in the six goals in film editing mentioned: (1) achieving the desire emotions, (2) advancing the story, (3) continuing a proper rhythm, (4) acknowledging the "eye trace" from the audience's focus of interest as to location and movement, (5) achieve two-dimensional plurality, and (6) respecting the three-dimensional continuity. The order of importance of these goals in Murch's point of view is also different from what is typically taught at film school. I realized that one of the most important ability for a film editor to have is to look at the same scenes in different contexts and from different perspectives while considering how the film makers desire the the audience to feel and then edits it to evoke that emotion.

Through Murch's writing, one can definitely see how important creating emotions is to him. Story advancement is the next important goal. The other technical aspects of a film such as eye trace, two/three dimensional screen plane and action space seem to be of the lower level of significance.

I learned names of typically used film editing systems such as Moviola, Avid, Lightworks, FinalCut Pro etc. which seem to be a choice of preference by the film makers. However, there are more and more examples of computerized editing tools compared to mechanical systems.

The role of a film editor is emphasized in Murch's analysis through the challenges they face in possibly having access to too much film while maintaining a fresh mind, considering the film maker's notes while reviewing the materials more than once, keeping the audience in mind etc. Not to mentioned, all the work details are done on a much smaller screen than the actual theater screen.