The Edit Foundry


December 4th, 2012 by shawnmontano and tagged

Pacing - To advance or develop (something) at a particular rate or tempo.  That is the definition I pulled that is most appropriate.  Pacing first and foremost should advance your story.  How do you advance your story with pacing you ask?  The pace of a story, or a section of the story tells the viewer a lot about the story.  Are we about to get into a car chase?  Tell the viewer that.  Ramp up the pacing to say, “Here we go!”  Are we about to start a love scene?  Slow down the pace of the story and let the viewer know where gonna take it slow, unless the love scene’s pacing should be faster?  Everything has a pace.  Let’s go back to that definition again;  To advance or develop (something) at a particular rate or tempo.   We should also be developing something?  Are we developing the story, a scene?  Once you know what you’re trying to develop, you can begin to set the tempo.  Everyone loves to listen to music.  The music you enjoy is a great place to start learning about pace.  Ever heard of Tears for Fears?  They produced this song Mad World 

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This song definitely has a pace.  To me the pace feels too fast. Why?  Because the Gary Jules version in my opinion is better and has the right pace 

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The same song with two different paces.  Is it possible for two versions of a story to have two different paces?  You betcha!  The pace will help the viewer understand how they’re supposed to feel.  

Do you want the viewer to feel urgency?  A faster pace would do that like in the story It’s Bad.

This story’s pace is much slower than that.  And that pace is going to help up tell this story.

Our story for this post is In Search of Flatter Ground

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Our story begins with a medium shot of the airplane in the field.

 I then cut to a tight shot at [:02] of a lucky rabbit’s foot.  The sound bite says, “we’re going to try and get it off the ground.”  I thought it was somewhat symbolic of luck.  The pilot was lucky to land in a field and not crash.  Now, he’ll need a little luck getting the plane back off the ground.  

The next shot at [:04] is up for 3 and a half seconds.

I am going to establish the pace of the entire story with this one shot.  You need to see the car going in the bumpy field.  The bumpy field is very important to the whole story.  I am establishing the pace of the story.  Now let’s see if I can stick to it.  Remember, that shot was up for over 3 seconds!  Anyone ever told you or have you ever read 3 seconds is about how long it takes someone to adsorb everything in a shot in a story?  I feel that’s jibberish. No two 3-second shots are the same. Each is unique in the information in the shot.  Ok, back to the story.

The entire process of getting the airplane out of the field is slow and methodical.  That’s how it happened.  That’s what I’m going to try and convey.

The very next edit of the car at [:08] is also over 3 seconds long.  Damn, again with those shots up for a while?  So, if the shot is up longer then they’re must be less edits.  Less edits and longer shots make a slower pace.

At [:12] I have another wide shot of the airplane in the field.

 I keep this shot up for over 2 seconds (sensing a trend yet).

The reporter in this story helps tremendously with the pacing.  Her delivery is calm.  There is no sense of urgency in her voice.  She’s simply telling the story. 

  • A calm delivery helps control the pacing

Another way I help with the pacing is how I use natural sound.  At [:25] is a tight shot of them starting the airplane.  This shot and the natural sound to support it is up almost a full 2 seconds.

The next time you hear the plane is at [:29].  I leave that natural sound up for over a second and a half.

This shot is also up for 4 seconds. 

At [:35] I have another shot of the plane.  The natural sound up for nearly two full seconds.  

The shot itself is up for nearly 5 seconds.   I also leave this shot up for so long because I want the viewer to see the difficulty in trying to take off from this field.

They finally get the plane out of the field.  They have to maneuver through cattle gates in order get the plane to a better place to takeoff.  I’ve never seen an airplane maneuver through cattle gates.  Have you?  This shot is nice and worth leaving up for over 3 and a half seconds, and it helps with my pacing.

There are a lot of great shots in this story.  The next shot at [:49] is one of my favorites and I almost didn’t put it in.

Originally I just had the plane on the highway.  No cop car in front of it.  The reporter came into the edit bay and suggested I change it.  She was right.  This reveal of the plane on the highway really makes the story.  At the beginning of the shot I just use natural sound of wind.  I just let the shot breath.  It’s a great shot and it helps with my pacing.

The final shot of the airplane at [1:09] is the last shot and I leave it up until our story is over.

At [1:12] and for a full 3 seconds you just hear natural sound as the plane goes down the highway and disappears, only to reappear airborne.  All this is helping with the pacing.  It’s also the single greatest closing shot I’ve ever had in a package I edited.

  • This story has 27 edits
  • The story is 1:26 long
  • That is an average edit every 3.18 seconds
  • A slow pace

Just for comparison sake.

 A story with a faster pace is It’s Bad.

  • This story has 41 edits
  • The story is 1.17 long
  • That is an average edit every 1.87 seconds

Play with pacing.  

It’s another great tool to make your editing better.

Thank you for reading.  


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Posted in Anatomy of an Edit, Pacing | 26 Comments »

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