How to Design Character Behaviour on Screen

by Paddy Bird on
July 23, 2020

This week’s discussion on Once Upon a Timeline is all about one of the most fascinating areas of our craft, human behaviour. As editors, we’re often thought of as arm chair psychologists. One of the skills we need to nurture is the ability to select, streamline and re-construct the perfect human emotions in any sequence for maximum effect.

Knowing how human beings communicate outside of their speech and placing these moments at key points in a scene is often the thing that separates the keen amateur from the truly great professional editor.

In this week’s episode I talk through how we should analyse human behaviour on screen and repackage it for our audience.

You’ll learn:

  • How different genres select human behaviour.
  • Why behaviour analysis is absolutely essential.
  • What we look for when repackaging specific emotions.
  • The three big headlines in body language theory.
  • How to communicate our value to people who don’t know what editing is.

The Editor

One of our questions this week was about how we explain to people who know nothing about what we do as editors. This is the promo that we made when we launched Inside The Edit a few years ago. We wanted to sum up exactly what an editor did in under two minutes. I hope you enjoy it and please share it with your friends and colleagues!

Preston Blair’s Facial Expressions

We’re talking about facial expressions on this week’s show and I always remember seeing this delightful chart of different facial expressions of Jerry from the classic Tom and Jerry cartoons. It was drawn by Preston Blair, one of the legendary animators at Walt Disney and MGM back in the 40’s and 50’s. It always made me think about how subtle and mostly subconscious our understanding of this type of body language is when we analyse human behaviour.

Listen to Win With Logickeyboard

We’ve teamed up with our friends at Logickeyboard for a new competition. Listen to this week’s episode to find out how to win one of their amazing editing keyboards. Whether you’re a novice or a pro, their high-end products help you learn and navigate tools faster, so you can spend more time and energy on creating.

This Week's Competition Question

This Week's Competition Question

Win an editing keyboard from our friends at Logickeyboard.

All you have to do is email us your name, location and answer to this question...
What is the best edited documentary and why?

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Saturday, December 5th

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Tracks Featured in This Episode from Universal Production Music

Track 1: Intelligent Cloud

Time: 0:03
Composer: Al Lethbridge
Publisher: BBC Production Music
Album: Shadow On The Sun
View Track

Track 2: Sun Spots

Time: 4:27
Composers: Carl Harms, David James Elliott
Publisher: Chappell Recorded Music Library Ltd
Album: Percussive Textures
View Track

Track 3: Crystal Light

Time: 26:58
Composers: Michael Holborn, William Henries
Publisher: Atmosphere Music Ltd
Album: Drones 2
View Track

Track 4: Beautiful Space

Time: 34:03
Composer: Laurent Juillet
Publisher: Kapagama
Album: Cinematic Ambient
View Track


Essential Picture Cutting Theory

Saturday, February 20, 3PM GMT

The way we design the shots on our timeline is a huge indicator of our skill level. Elite level editors obey a vast range of visual grammar and pacing principles when crafting any sequence. But film schools, online courses and training manuals focus on the software and none of these essential creative principles.

This month's live webinar will teach you everything you need to know about pro level shot cutting. You’ll learn: Shot Flow, Visual Grammar, Pictorial arcs, Tone and pacing, and Stylisation.

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5 April - 16 April 2021

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