Adam Epstein Breaks Down the Six Rules for Cinematic Editing

For video editors and filmmakers alike, understanding the power of the cut is important for telling the most compelling, informative, and/or emotional story. In this video excerpt from MZed, professional editor Adam Epstein (known for SNL and Killing Gunther among other things) provides some thoughtful insight on six rules for cinematic editing, as referenced from award-winning film editor Walter Murch.

The video leads with some words from Alfred Hitchcock on how editing should be referred to as assembly, not cutting, since you're bringing together separate elements to make a larger whole, not severing elements.

The six rules Adam lists and explains how they should be considered before making any edit are: emotion, story, rhythm, eye trace, the axis, and 3D space.

Even for video content that doesn't have narratives, lots of these techniques can still be applied. There's a lot more to the idea and theories of editing that can be learned, and I'd recommend picking up Walter Murch's book "In the Blink of an Eye," for even more creative insight.

Are there any rules you think were left out, or maybe aren't important? Start a discussion in the comments and find out how many people agree or disagree with you.

Mike Wilkinson's picture

Mike Wilkinson is an award-winning video director with his company Wilkinson Visual, currently based out of Lexington, Kentucky. Mike has been working in production for over 10 years as a shooter, editor, and producer. His passion lies in outdoor adventures, documentary filmmaking, photography, and locally-sourced food and beer.

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