How to Streamline Our Sequences

by Paddy Bird on
August 27, 2020

We’ve got a great episode for you this week as we’re talking about the essential ability to streamline our sequences. How do we create fluid, tight and, most importantly, non-superfluous sequences? How do we cut all the fat off the bone and hone in on the essentials of any scene?

After we’ve gone through the mammoth task of viewing all of our raw footage and constructing our first assemblies, we can often feel deflated by what we see on our timeline. Our construction is often overly long, repetitive and full of errors as we go into the secondary stage of refinement. It’s here that a lot of editors new to the craft fall down.

A high-end editor is a creative artist who can immediately focus in on and streamline the sequence into what its true purpose and meaning really is. I love this subject, I get asked so much about it and I think there’s a lot of very interesting creative theory to be discussed around it.

Chekhov’s Gun

Anton Chekhov was a celebrated late 19th century Russian playwright, short story author and considered to be one of the best writers of all time. He was at the forefront of the new wave of realism in the theatre at the time. The characters were beginning to speak and act how real people speak and act, in order to illustrate the human condition in a far more authentic way.

He’s remembered by the public for his famous plays like The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, and The Three Sisters. But for playwrights, screenwriters and every type of storyteller he’s also remembered for his famous dramatic principle Chekhov’s Gun. Here’s a quote from a letter he sent to a colleague in 1889.

“One must never place a loaded rifle on the stage if it isn’t going to go off. It’s wrong to make promises you don’t mean to keep.”

In this week’s episode I talk about being told about this dramatic principle at the young age of 12 but not really understanding it until years later when I was starting my career as an editor. I utilised Chekhov’s Gun when going through the refinement stages of my cuts and even bent and shaped its meaning into a useful mantra that I still use to this day.

Last Week’s Competition

Tune in to this week’s episode to find out who won a limited edition print of the Editor’s Periodic Table Film Poster. Our very first piece of merchandise here at Inside The Edit is a beautifully designed glossary of creative concepts that every editor needs to know when cutting any sequence. You can buy it in our online store right here

This Week's Competition Question

This Week's Competition Question

All you have to do is email us your name, location and answer to this question...

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Tracks Featured in This Episode from Universal Production Music

Track 1: Green City Scene

Time: 0:02
Composer: Susumu Yokota
Publisher: Bruton Music Ltd
Album: Ambient Currents
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Track 2: Sundown Hits

Time: 22:56
Composer: Lawrence Mau Yip Wong
Publisher: Bruton Music Ltd
Album: Neon Sunsets
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Track 3: Secret Suns

Time: 33:19
Composers: Kostas Hiras, Kyriakos Moustakas
Publisher: Bruton Music Ltd
Album: Neon Sunsets
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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.

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