Editing is an art that goes unnoticed by the filmgoing masses. No matter how great the components of a movie may be, ultimately bad editing has the power to make or break it. Yet good editing usually means that no one even notices the cuts.
Which brings us to what RocketJump Film School calls the “oh f**k” moment in its new video essay “Editing: Creating The ‘Oh F**k’ Moment.” The “oh f**k” moment is a moment in a scene built by alternately using wide and close-up shots and in which the audience is finally allowed to see the source of the tension. The video argues that it’s this back and forth editing between the wide and the close-up that is used to propel the story and which creates an extra layer of tension that might not otherwise exist. Likely the best example would be the introduction of Sundance in “Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid.” When we meet Robert Redford’s titular character, he is pissing some people off at a poker table. For the duration of the scene, despite the dialogue coming from several different players and eventually from Butch, the camera stays in close-up with Sundance. We can hear what’s happening around him, but we see nothing but Redford’s calm but removed expression. The first cut? Another close up to the gun on the hip of another player, followed by a wide shot that establishes their standoff.
It’s a fascinating look at a very small piece of a very neglected art form. But RocketJump takes some time to talk about how closely editing must work with the cinematography and direction, and just how integral it is in creating tension, revealing information and our plain and simple movie-going enjoyment.
Check out “Editing: Creating The ‘Oh F**k’ Moment” below, and let us know what you think in the comments.