It’s not about the pixels

Every semester I assign my video post production students Walter Murch’s In the Blink of an Eye. Anyone serious about editing needs to read this book. It’s not loaded with tips and tricks, nor is it very technical. In fact, though fairly recently updated, the book was originally penned before Murch made the leap to digital nonlinear editing.

In the book Murch presents his Rule of Six. It’s simply a ranking of six criteria to consider when making a cut. He assigns each a percentage value for how much weight it should be given. In his rankings the first-time reader is struck by how little relative value Murch places on the technical aspects of a “good” edit. He doesn’t mention the axis of the action, cutting on the action, or camera motion. To Murch the number one criteria to consider when making a cut is its emotional value. Number two is the story. And not until number three, after he’s spent the vast majority of his percentage points does he mention anything remotely technical. This is why Murch is rightly hailed as the sage of the edit room. He gets it. It’s about the emotion. Keep an eye on that, and everything else will work out.

The picture that accompanies this post is part of my ongoing 365 project to post an image a day. It was taken by what is perhaps the worst camera I’ve ever owned. The BlackBerry Bold’s camera yields a horrible image. Look at its output 1:1 on the desktop and you can see the pixel matrix. Prior to that, the lag between pressing the shutter button and the recording of the image can be measured in full seconds. Did I mention it clips blacks as muddy grays and blows out any light source?

Yet good, old image #22 is one of my favorite pictures of all time. It just works. Walter Murch might agree.

Random 365 #22
Originally uploaded to Flickr by Frank Capria


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