2nd Edition

Cutting Rhythms Intuitive Film Editing

By Karen Pearlman Copyright 2016
    280 Pages
    by Routledge

    280 Pages
    by Routledge

    There are many books on the technical aspects of film and video editing. Much rarer are books on how editors think and make creative decisions.

    Filled with timeless principles and thought-provoking examples from a variety of international films, the second edition of Karen Pearlman’s Cutting Rhythms offers an in-depth study of the film editor’s rhythmic creativity and intuition, the processes and tools editors use to shape rhythms, and how rhythm works to engage audiences in film. While respecting the importance of intuitive flow in the cutting room, this book offers processes for understanding what editing intuition is and how to develop it. This fully revised and updated edition contains:

    • New chapters on collaboration and "editing thinking";
    • Advice on making onscreen drafts before finalizing your story
    • Tips on how to create and sustain audience empathy and engagement;
    • Explanations of how rhythm is perceived, learned, practiced and applied in editing;
    • Updated discussions of intuition, structure and dynamics;
    • An all-new companion website (www.focalpress.com/cw/pearlman) with video examples and links for expanding and illustrating the principles of key chapters in the book.





    CHAPTER 1 Rhythmic Intuition

    Intuitive Thinking

    Movement and Intuition

    Rhythm is Made of Movement

    Noticing Movement as Rhythm

    Feeling Movement’s Rhythmic Potential

    Empathy with Movement: Experience, Body and Brain

    Being Rhythm & Thinking Rhythmically

    CHAPTER 2 Editing as Choreography

    Shifting the Discussion from Music to


    Movement Phrases

    Why Bother with Phrasing?

    Phrasing Considerations

    CHAPTER 3 Timing, Pacing, and Trajectory Phrasing



    Trajectory Phrasing

    CHAPTER 4 Tension, Release, and Synchronization

    Tension and Release


    Case Study in Tension, Release, and Synchronization:

    Broadcast News

    CHAPTER 5 Physical, Emotional, and Event Rhythms

    Three Kinds of Movement

    Good Editing is Not Invisible

    CHAPTER 6 Physical Rhythm


    Physical Storytelling

    Dancing Edits

    Singing the Rhythm

    Case Study: "Now" Scene from Thursday’s Fictions

    CHAPTER 7 Emotional Rhythm

    Prepare, Action, Rest

    The Actor’s Actions


    Case Study: The Hours

    CHAPTER 8 Event Rhythm

    First Scenes

    Dramatic Questions

    Structures as Event Patterns

    Energy, Pace and Timing

    Creating Structure and Rhythm Simultaneously

    Real Events v. Fictional Events

    Reintegrating Rhythms

    Case Study: The Godfather

    Case Study: Goodfellas

    CHAPTER 9 Style

    Thematic Montage

    Continuity Cutting

    Points along the Spectrum from Thematic Montage to Continuity Cutting



    Points along the Spectrum from Collision to Linkage

    Style Case Studies

    Contemporary Style: After the New Wave

    CHAPTER 10 Devices

    Parallel Action

    Parallel Action Case Studies

    Slow Motion

    Slow Motion Case Studies

    Fast Motion

    Two Quick Fast Motion Case Studies

    CHAPTER 11 Editing & The Vulcan Mind Meld

    The Mind Meld

    Decision Making

    Responsive Creativity

    Power and Hierarchy

    CHAPTER 12 Editing Thinking & Onscreen Drafting

    Editing Thinking

    What is an Onscreen Draft

    Why Draft

    Rapid Prototyping

    Embodied Decision Making


    Dr. Karen Pearlman is a director of the multi-award winning Physical TV Company where she directs, produces and edits drama, documentary and dance film. Currently a lecturer in Screen Production at Macquarie University, Karen is a former President of the Australian Screen Editors Guild and a four-time nominee for Best Editing at the Australian Screen Editors Guild Annual Award.

    "Karen’s insights about the flow of story, emotion, image and sound have helped me at all stages of filmmaking, from onscreen drafting to fine cutting." - Genevieve Clay-Smith, multi-award winning Director

    "A great resource! Karen’s out-of–the box thinking about editing brings a new level of insight and articulation to describing what editors do and how we do it." - Jason Ballantine, ASE