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Watch: 5 Master Editing Techniques That Appear in Everything From ‘Psycho’ to ‘Hugo’

Watch: 5 Master Editing Techniques That Appear in Everything From 'Psycho' to 'Hugo'

Many casual cinema-goers can name their favorite actors, actresses or directors, but not many outside of the industry have a favorite editor. I’ve often wondered why editors don’t seem to get as much credit for the success of a film the same way that directors do. They are, after all responsible for putting a film together, perfecting its flow and artfully connecting the different components of the story, even if they are under the director’s instruction. 

Vsevolod Pudovkin was a director and actor during the birth of the moving pictures. But according to actor-writer-director Evan Richards, Podovkin’s biggest contributions to the world of cinema are his editing techniques. Pudovkin wrote,”Editing is not merely a method of the junction of separate scenes or pieces, but is a method that controls the ‘psychological guidance’ of the spectator.”

Take a look at Richards’ video that lays out Pudovkin’s five editing techniques which he used to achieve this psychological guidance and how they’ve been put to use in classic films like “The Godfather,” “Psycho,””The Silence of the Lambs,” “Lawrence of Arabia” and even more modern films like “Hugo.”

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That should be pdf at US archive


U guys are totally missing the point. Editing is where the film turns from words to poetry. Whether a scriptwriter suggested an edit in the script or a director at storyboard, whatever…is irrelevant. This isn’t about the role of the editor or the physical process of editing. It’s about thinking about how you sequence shots to tell stories. Great article! Found ODF of Pudovkin’s book at assertive too.


great! this is useful post!


Useful, clear presentation.


Useful, clear presentation.


Useful, clear presentation.


Useful, clear presentation.


With any movie, the question of "who thought of it" will get you nowhere. Creatively, the director works in collaboration with all of his or her key craftspeople–editor, cinematographer, production designer, composer, etc–and I venture to say that none of those collaborations are as long or as intimate as the one with the editor. Usually an editor and director are side by side for months on end, sometimes over a year, discussing, experimenting, trying, failing, trying again. In the best cases, it would be impossible after the fact to assign any one idea to either of them.

Now as for what begins in the script or the storyboards vs. how much "rewriting" is done in the editing, that's dicey as well. Some intercutting is predefined by the writers–sometimes well, sometimes not so well. I haven't read the actual shooting scripts for either The Godfather or The Silence of the Lambs, so I don't know if those parallel scenes were laid out that way on the page or not, but the number of similar ideas that I've seen born right in front of the Avid (or the KEM, back in the day) are too numerous to count. I remember William Goldenberg talking about the intercutting in Argo, between the mock executions and the script read-through, as though it were conceived in the editing process and had to be adjusted endlessly before it worked right.


Relax, guys. He never suggests that any of those examples were the idea of the editor. He's just giving examples of shots being placed in a specific order to achieve a specific effect. I.E., editing.


Interesting video, but I have to wonder whether all these decisions are made by a film editor alone? When, for example, did Hitchcock film all those foot shots for Stranger on a Train? After an editor suggested it? I don't doubt that an editor is able to suggest innovative ways to present sequences during the editing process, but the footage has to be there for that to happen. Doesn't it?

Gypsy Danger

Bullshit! The Godfather and Silence of the lambs examples happend because the script said it happend. Not becuase the editor thought of it. Do your homework


This should be titled Clever Storytelling Techniques. These are all concepts & ideas that are conceive far before the edit begins.


While I agree that these techniques create the effects mentioned only an editor would think those choices were made by the editor. I found this video to be more an exercise in ego pandering than anything to do with editing.

Alan Bacchus

Nice post, though many of these techniques begin on the page in a script and thus could also be called screenwriting techniques


This was GREAT!! :) Awesome Post!!

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