Art of the Cut

Book description

Art of the Cut provides an unprecedented look at the art and technique of contemporary film and television editing. It is a fascinating "virtual roundtable discussion" with more than 50 of the top editors from around the globe. Included in the discussion are the winners of more than a dozen Oscars for Best Editing and the nominees of more than forty, plus numerous Emmy winners and nominees. Together they have over a thousand years of editing experience and have edited more than a thousand movies and TV shows.

Hullfish carefully curated over a hundred hours of interviews, organizing them into topics critical to editors everywhere, generating an extended conversation among colleagues. The discussions provide a broad spectrum of opinions that illustrate both similarities and differences in techniques and artistic approaches. Topics include rhythm, pacing, structure, storytelling and collaboration.

Interviewees include Margaret Sixel (Mad Max: Fury Road), Tom Cross (Whiplash, La La Land), Pietro Scalia (The Martian, JFK), Stephen Mirrione (The Revenant), Ann Coates (Lawrence of Arabia, Murder on the Orient Express), Joe Walker (12 Years a Slave, Sicario), Kelley Dixon (Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead), and many more.

Art of the Cut also includes in-line definitions of editing terminology, with a full glossary and five supplemental web chapters hosted online at This book is a treasure trove of valuable tradecraft for aspiring editors and a prized resource for high-level working professionals. The book’s accessible language and great behind-the-scenes insight makes it a fascinating glimpse into the art of filmmaking for all fans of cinema.

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Table of contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title
  3. Copyright
  5. Acknowledgments
  6. Introduction
  7. Film Editor Biographies
  8. 1 Project Organization
    1. Cards on a Wall
    2. Project Organization
    3. Scene Bin Organization
    4. Scene Bin Organization with JPEG Markers
    5. Selects or KEM Rolls
    6. Sequence Organization
    7. Organizing a Timeline Layout
    8. ScriptSync
  9. 2 Approach to a Scene
    1. Screening Dailies (Rushes)
    2. Watching Dailies Backwards
    3. Finding a Starting Place
    4. Fast and Rough to Start
    5. Using Select Reels
  10. 3 Pacing and Rhythm
    1. Pacing Is Musical
    2. What Determines Pacing?
    3. Letting It Breathe
    4. Pacing Due to Screen Size
  11. 4 Structure
    1. Length of First Assembly
    2. Working the First Assembly
    3. Hitting Beats
    4. Structure
    5. Intercutting
    6. Killing Your Babies and Eliminating Shoe Leather
    7. Screening
    8. First Assembly in TV
  12. 5 Storytelling
    1. Editing Is Foundational to Storytelling
    2. Speaking into the Script
    3. Character
    4. Perspective
    5. Structure
    6. A Student of Story
  13. 6 Performance
    1. Editing as Stewardship
    2. Finding the Performance
    3. Performance That Tells the Story
    4. Shaping Performance
    5. Editing Bracketed Performance
    6. Using Audio from Different Takes Than Picture
    7. Split Screen: The Invisible Weapon
    8. Performance Needs Context
  14. 7 Sound Design
    1. Sound to Sell Visual Edits
    2. Selling the Environment
    3. Collaboration with Sound Team and Assistants
    4. ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement)
  15. 8 Music
    1. The Purpose of Temp Music
    2. Choosing Temp Music
    3. Cutting without Temp
    4. Songs and Diegetic or “Source” Music
    5. Temping a Franchise Film
    6. Using Score
  16. 9 Collaboration
    1. Landing the Gig
    2. Styles of Collaboration
    3. Notes
    4. Social Skills
    5. Don’t Edit the Way You Think the Director Wants
    6. TV’s Collaborative Environment
  17. 10 Documentary
    1. Schedule
    2. Approaching the Material
    3. ScriptSync
    4. Shot Selection
    5. Pacing and Rhythm
    6. Structure
    7. Sound Design
    8. Music
    9. Collaboration
    10. Notes and Revisions
    11. Miscellaneous Documentary Wisdom
  18. 11 Miscellaneous Wisdom
    1. How Did You Break into the Business?
    2. Emotion
    3. Geography
    4. Learn from Your Mistakes
    5. How Do You Judge the Editing of Others?
  19. Index

Product information

  • Title: Art of the Cut
  • Author(s): Steve Hullfish
  • Release date: February 2017
  • Publisher(s): Routledge
  • ISBN: 9781315297118