Guidelines for the Aesthetics of Editing

Here are a few accepted practices for the art of editing.


• When you make a cut, do it for a reason and the only reason to make a cut is to improve the
production. Cut only when a better shot can serve a purpose.

• Cut on an action. Action matching cuts will link shots that have the same action.

• Be careful with making cuts at the end of a sentence or idea. The results are distracting and become expected.

• Avoid fades; dissolves and DYE's that do not have meaning.

• Use the least complicated solution for each problem. The simplest is usually the best.

• Use pace and timing to develop a desired emotional effect.

• If there is an exit to the right in a scene, the next scene begins with an entrance from the left and vice versa.

• Make movements flow from one shot to another by keeping the screen action flowing in the same direction. For example, if one shot has movement to the right the next shot should have movement to the right. This also applies to camera movements such as pans, and tilts.

• Do not linger in a scene after an exit. However, it is acceptable to linger in a scene before the action begins.

• A shot should be allowed enough time on screen for the audience to recognize the subj ect and absorb the information. A familiar subject requires less time than a complicated one. Complicated camera compositions and busy camera movements require more time.

• If a shot has value in a scene, use it even if the actions are a miss match. The miss match can be covered with a cut-away or cut in.

• A cut-away or cut in should be on screen for as long as the viewer will need to gather the information presented. Two or three seconds is normal.

• Always match image sizes in over-the-shoulder shots of two people.

• Always keep the listener's body slightly in frame with over-the-shoulder shots.

• Keep background music in the background. It should be heard but not overpowering.

• Listen to a completed audio track with your eyes closed, this will aid you in evaluating the audio.

• Use background music and ambient sounds to provide a continuity thread.

RayAdamsRaymond S. Adams was a high school teacher from 1964 to 1995. He earned a BS Ed from California University of PA, an MS Ed from Duquesne University and a certificate as an Educational Media Specialist from Indiana University pf Pennsylvania. This Specialist Certificate enabled him to have the background to open a RayAdamsCoverhome based photography studio in 1969. As video became popular, video production became part of the studio's services.

During his teaching tenure, he taught photography, social studies and video production. In 1992 he published a textbook on video production, Video 101: A First Course in Video Production. In 1993, he was Pennsylvania's PPTN/PBS Instructional Television Teacher of the Year.

After retiring, he became an adjunct instructor at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he taught television production and methods of teaching history. Presently, he operates his photography and video studio. His business career has provided the opportunity to create photographic works in a variety of areas. The video production services has produced works for a great number of social, business and educational clients.