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Rajo hosts editor Tom, who goes "in depth" and "on point" on using split edits (L-cuts) to make dialogue scenes flow like ...
Tags:What Split Edits Are,dialogue scene editing,film cutting,film editing,film sequencing,l cuts,non linear split,what does a film editor do,thesubstream
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What Split Edits Are
Razo Zakic: Hi, I’m Razo Zakic and welcome to Tell Me About. Today we have a very special guest, a video editor named Tom Burger. Tom, hi!
Tom Burger: Hi!
Razo Zakic: Tom, tell me about split edits.
Tom Burger: Well, when a director shoots the scene on a movie set, they often shoot the same thing multiple times from many different angles. Then it’s up to another or like me to put those shots on the proper sequence.
Razo Zakic: A video editor like yourself uses a computer, is that right?
Tom Burger: Yeah, that’s right. I cut footage using video editing software. I follow along the script to get the right sequence of events and sometimes the director will even give me notes about pacing.
Razo Zakic: So, you just put it in order.
Tom Burger: Well yes, but let’s say the scene has two people talking. The director might have filmed the entire scene from person A’s point of view and then film the entire scene again from person B’s point of view.
Razo Zakic: Wow, so the director shoots two different versions of the same scene, two different shots.
Tom Burger: Yes.
Razo Zakic: Tom, is editing hard?
Tom Burger: The first thing I do is put the scene in order, cutting right on every line of dialogue, back and forth between each speaker.
Razo Zakic: Back and forth?
Tom Burger: Yeah, exactly.
Razo Zakic: First one person says something.
Tom Burger: Yup.
Razo Zakic: And then when they’re done speaking, the other person says something.
Tom Burger: Yeah but the problem is that.
Razo Zakic: So, that’s called a split edit.
Tom Burger: No, that’s a straight cut. We haven’t gotten the split edit yet.
Razo Zakic: So, tell me about split edits. Let’s hear it.
Tom Burger: Well, the problem with straight cutting is that it can make the scene feel kind of stiff and unnatural.
Razo Zakic: I was going to say “herky jerky”.
Tom Burger: Right exactly. The conversation doesn’t flow so nice. So, it’s kind of jarring for the audience like watching a tennis match.
Razo Zakic: Because of the back and forth.
Tom Burger: Right. The editor will try to make the scene flow much more smoothly on screen. And he’ll do this by changing the timing of the visual edits while leaving the sound intact.
Razo Zakic: Okay, slow down.
Tom Burger: Well, imagine that person A is speaking. Instead of waiting for them to finish their line of dialogue, an editor may cut to person B halfway through person A’s sentence.
Razo Zakic: So, we get to see a shot of person B’s face while person A is still talking.
Tom Burger: That’s right. And it works the other way too. When person A finishes their line of dialogue, the editor may choose to stay on his phase while person B starts talking.
Razo Zakic: So in that instance, we get to see a shot of person A’s phase while person B is speaking. You know, I think I’m getting it, do me a favor though, give it to me in another way.
Tom Burger: All an editor is doing here is cutting the visuals either before or after any given character completes line of dialogue. That’s a split edit. It’s also called an L-cut because of how it looks on the timeline.
Razo Zakic: You are kind of blowing my mind right now. But listen Tom, can you explain why this helps to make the conversation flow a little more smoothly in the scene?
Tom Burger: The idea is that the editor is hiding the scene so to speak. It’s a bit like a slide of hand. By cutting the image in the spot that doesn’t match the cut in the audio, the visual rhythm of the scene becomes more unpredictable. And before you know it, the viewer stops thinking about the actual cuts and concentrates on what’s happening in the scene.
Razo Zakic: It’s kind of like hypnosis, isn’t it? The viewer forgets that there are actually two shots that make up the scene. You know, what, I think I get it. I think I do. Split edits.
Tom Burger:’ Right. Right.
Razo Zakic: Okay, I get it. Tom, thank you so much for coming on the show and telling us all about split edits.