‘In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing’ is a must read

'In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing,' by Walter Murch
‘In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing,’ by Walter Murch

During my 12-week stint at the New York Film Academy it was recommended that we read this book. Written by Walter Murch, editor of “Apocalypse Now,” it is an insightful and fascinating look at the art of film editing.

Editing is what I find to be the most exciting part of making a film. Selecting the shots, picking the tone. It’s just you and the editing machine — be it a Steenbeck or an AVID system. No other people to deal with, personalities to entertain, or orders to bark. Just a dark room, a cool drink and many hours staring at a small screen as weeks of work spills out before you.

Murch not only takes you into his experience in editing films, he also describes the aesthetics of editing. The art of editing. And, as the title suggests, cutting on the “blink.”

Although there are technical issues to deal with while editing, such as cutting action consistently and avoiding jump cuts. But, as Murch explains, there are some basic theories as to why film editing works.

He discusses the link between films and dreams, and how a good editor is recognized by… not being recognized.

Good editing is one of the few parts of filmmaking that is designed not to be noticed. A visual story is told, and the viewer should never consciously be aware of the cuts from one shot to another.

Murch does a terrific job expressing the challenges and purpose of the editor. If you are interested in this field, I would highly recommend picking up this book.

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