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On Film Editing: An Introduction to the Art of Film Construction Paperback – November 2, 1984

ISBN-13: 978-0240517384 ISBN-10: 0240517385

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press (November 2, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0240517385
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240517384
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #278,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Editing is the creative force of filmic reality." So Dmytryk, director of the American classic "The Caine Mutiny" begins this little book, which he hopes will aid film directors and editors in perfecting their art. It is informative for general audiences as well, demonstrating how deeply the experience of any film relies on the creativity and versatility of its editor.

From the Publisher

In On Film Editing, Dmytryk contends that many technicians and professionals on the film crew-- from the cameraman and his assistants to the producer and director-- must understand film editing to produce a truly polished work. In this book he explains in layman's terms the principles of film editing, using examples and anecdotes from almost five decades in the film industry.

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Customer Reviews

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This is one of the classic texts on the principles and practices of modern film editing.
Nathan Andersen
I think focusing on principles is a better idea, because every edit scenario is unique yet the principles can be applied universally.
Tezza
This short book is packed with solid information that should be required reading in any film school.
Old Video Guy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Film lover on March 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
There are a lot of great books on the more artistic and unquantifiable aspects of motion picture editing (for example, Michael Ondaatje's Conversations with Walter Murch), but this is one of the few books to lay out the basics. Everyone who wants to edit motion pictures, whether it's home videos using iMovie or feature films using Avid or even (especially) actually cutting film should know what this book has to teach. It's really the only book for the novice editor worth reading. Just buy it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Old Video Guy on February 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
Working in film and video for over 15 years, this was the first book I read when starting my career. I have bought several copies over the years for new shooters and editors. It really is that good.

Whether you're a novice or a seasoned veteran, this is a MUST READ. This short book is packed with solid information that should be required reading in any film school. Look, there are a few basic rules that all editors have been following since the silent film era. You've got to know the fundamentals.

READ IT!
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the classic texts on the principles and practices of modern film editing. While it was written nearly thirty years ago and refers occasionally to the techniques of linear editing on actual film, its summary of the rules of good editing remains as relevant today as ever, even for filmmakers who will only ever edit video on their computers. Editing is where the film is brought to life and Dmytryk outlines in a very clear and engaging way the basic considerations that allow that to take place. The author was not only a major filmmaker but a master teacher, and it shows in both the precision and clarity of his explanations.

What makes the guide as fresh today as when it appeared is that it is primarily not about technical considerations but about how an editor has to think in order to construct seamless and engaging scenes that are true to the overall story of a film. At the same time this thinking is given a practical application. The focus is on why rather than how, but it goes much further in explaining the basics of what to do when editing and how to put together a scene than many other books out there.

Dmytryk makes a distinction between a cutter and an editor, and cutting is merely competence with the equipment of film editing, whether it is a moviola or Final Cut Pro. Editing is always thinking, and is as creative in its approach to the film as shot as directing is creative in its approach to the film as written. Subtle variations in editing can change completely the tone or mood of a film. Dmytryk illustrates his points with several examples from major films he directed or edited (e.g. The Caine Mutiny, Murder, My Sweet and many more). Dmytryk is a master of his craft and is generous in his description of what it takes to pursue this mastery. This little book is an indispensible part of any filmmaker or film lover's library.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By VampireNovelFan on November 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
While a bit dated, I liked that it was such a resourceful book that you could practically fit into your pocket. Unfortunately, actual film as (as opposed to digital film) does not apply to me. I like that they make is simple by listing the rules. You don't feel as if you have to read everything in depth.

While that's not my biggest purpose with film editing, it has a helpful ending when it comes to editing scripts.

The biggest takeaway that *I* got from this book? Cut in the movement and keep everything continuous. Sometimes that will actually require removal of frames, but it does wonders for flow.

Many say that this book is a must own, but I actually found a good deal of these tips in other texts. I definitely wouldn't knock having this book, because it's actually good to analyze it and realize what you will or won't need and why as the art and technology of editing evolves.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By DJ on May 4, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I saw how small this book was I was regretting the price.
But after reading it I found this book to be one of those rare little books that have usful information on their subject with every page.
Opinion, worth it;)
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John Kurtz on June 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
One of the most important books in my life. I read and re-read this book in preparation for editing my FIRST film ever. Reviewers say my film possesses a "master level" edit. This book is why. Buy it. Read it. Re-read it.

My message to all young grasshopper: Read. And now read some more. Read and you become master phlegm-en-zepher.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tezza on June 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm an amateur video editor however I thought reading this book would help my editing work look more professional.

This is an excellent book that definitely gets you in the mindset of a professional editor, as well as the types of cuts to make for a more professional result.

The book more focuses on the principles of editing, rather than focusing on the details of how to handle specific situations (although many examples are given to illustrate the principles). I think focusing on principles is a better idea, because every edit scenario is unique yet the principles can be applied universally.

The book has been written from a "film" perspective, however any video editor can easily see that the information is easily applicable to video editing, as video editing is still done in terms of frames (actually I feel sorry for the people who cut film, what a pain that must have been!).

The book also talks about the role of the editor versus the director and the types of working relationships. This is very important because I've seen experienced a producer just saw me as an equipment operator telling me every cut and frame to use, versus others who give me total control and only call out edits they don't like.

I would agree with the premise that good directors ideally should have a knowledge of the edit process. When I'm asked to video a local event, I definitely think about the story line, shots, coverage and safety I'm going to need to give me the most flexibility during editing.

I would highly recommend this book. I haven't experienced anything better than this for editors. I would view this as a classic text and a must read.
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