4th Edition

Grammar of the Edit

ISBN 9781138632202
Published July 27, 2017 by Routledge
308 Pages 361 B/W Illustrations

USD $39.95

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Book Description

Tell more effective visual stories by learning the "grammar" of cinematic language with this elegant, accessible reference. The fourth edition of Grammar of the Edit gives you the answers to the all-important questions of when to cut and why, and teaches readers the principles behind transitions, editing for continuity, selecting the best shots, editing sound, color correction, and more. Designed as an easy-to-use guide, Grammar of the Edit presents each topic succinctly with clear photographs and diagrams illustrating key concepts, practical exercises and quiz questions, and is a staple of any filmmaker’s library.

New to the fourth edition:

  • An expanded companion website offering downloadable and editable raw footage so that students can practice the techniques described in the book, and instructional videos showcasing examples of different editing choices and types of shot transitions.
  • New and expanded quiz questions and practical exercises at the end of each chapter help test readers on their knowledge using real-world scenarios.
  • Updated topic discussions, explanations, illustrations and visual examples.
  • An all-new chapter on Sound resources in filmmaking and Audio Editing guidelines.

Together with its companion volume, Grammar of the Shot, the core concepts discussed in these books offer concise and practical resources for both experienced and aspiring filmmakers.

Table of Contents



Chapter One – Editing Basics

A Very Brief History of Film Editing

What Basic Factors May Affect Your Editing Choices?

The Tools

Project Type and Genre

Degree of Audience Manipulation

Other Factors

Stages of the Editing Process

The Basic Motion Picture Transitions

Chapter One Summation - Editing Purpose & Process

Related Material from Chapter Eight – Working Practices

Chapter One – Review

Chapter One – Exercises & Projects

Chapter One – Quiz Yourself


Chapter Two – Understanding the Visual Material

Basic Shot Types

Shot Descriptions

Shot Categories – The Increasing Complexity of Motion Imagery

Simple Shots

Complex Shots

Developing Shots

Chapter Two Summation – Camera Shots Are Your Building Blocks

Related Material from Chapter Eight – Working Practices

Chapter Two – Review

Chapter Two – Exercises & Projects

Chapter Two – Quiz Yourself

Chapter Three – Understanding the Audio Material

Sounds Gathered During Production


Room Tone / Natural Sound / Ambiance

Wild Sounds

Soundtracks (musical)  

Sounds Gathered During Post-Production

Narration / Voiceover

Automated Dialogue Replacement / Looping

Ambience / Tonal Tracks

Sound Effects / Spot Effects

Foley Effects

Soundtracks (music)

Sting / Stinger


Audio Terms You May Encounter

Sync Sound

Diegetic Sound

Non-diegetic Sound

Sound Design

Sound Motif

Chapter Three Summation – Sound as Emotional and Physiological Manipulation

Related Material from Chapter Eight – Working Practices

Chapter Three – Review

Chapter Three – Exercises & Projects

Chapter Three – Quiz Yourself

Chapter Four – Assessing the Footage: Selecting the Best Shots for the Job

Criteria for Shot Assessment


Framing and Composition

Exposure and Color Balance

Screen Direction

180 Degree Rule / Axis of Action

30 Degree Rule

Matching Angles

Matching Eye-line

Continuity of Action


Continuity of Dialogue / Spoken Words

Audio Quality

Be Familiar with All of the Footage

Chapter Four Summation - So How Does All of This Help You?

Related Material from Chapter Eight – Working Practices

Chapter Four – Review

Chapter Four – Exercises & Projects

Chapter Four – Quiz Yourself


Chapter Five – When to Cut and Why

What Factors Lead to Making an Edit?



Shot Composition

Camera Angle

Continuity Sound

Chapter Five Summation - Is There a Right or Wrong Reason for a Cut? 

Related Material from Chapter Eight – Working Practices

Chapter Five – Review

Chapter Five – Exercises & Projects

Chapter Five – Quiz Yourself

Chapter Six – Transitions and Edit Categories

The Cut

The Dissolve

The Wipe

The Fade

The Five Major Categories of Edit Types

The Action Edit

The Screen Position Edit

The Form Edit

The Concept Edit

The Combined Edit

Chapter Six Summation - Does Everything Always Apply?

Related Material from Chapter Eight – Working Practices

Chapter Six – Review

Chapter Six – Exercises & Projects

Chapter Six – Quiz Yourself

Chapter Seven – Editing Terms, Topics, and Techniques

Additional Editing Terms



Parallel Editing

Multi-camera Editing

Composite Editing



Video Resolution

Additional Editing Topics

Sound Editing

Color Correction / Color Grading

Importing Still Images

Digital Workflow

Technology vs. Creativity

Chapter Seven Summation – Old Techniques Done With New Technologies

Related Material from Chapter Eight – Working Practices

Chapter Seven – Review

Chapter Seven – Exercises & Projects

Chapter Seven – Quiz Yourself

Chapter Eight – Working Practices

Chapter Eight – Review

Chapter Eight – Exercises & Projects

Chapter Eight – Quiz Yourself

Chapter Nine – Key Take-Aways for New Editors

Sound and Vision are Partners

A New Shot Should Contain New Information

There Should Be a Reason for Every Edit

Pacing Has a Purpose

Observe the Action Line

Select the Appropriate Form of Edit

The Better the Edit, the Less it is Noticed

Editing is Manipulation

The Role of an Assistant Editor

Editing is Creating


Chapter Nine Summation – Concluding Thoughts

Chapter Nine – Review

Chapter Nine – Exercises & Projects

Chapter Nine – Quiz Yourself

Appendix A – Helpful Resources for the New Filmmaker

Appendix B – Common Crew Members Needed for Motion Picture Production 

Appendix C – Practice Script



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Christopher J. Bowen has worked within the motion media industries for over 18 years as a cinematographer, editor, director, and educator. Currently, he is an Associate Professor of film production and visual media writing at Framingham State University. Professor Bowen is also an Avid Certified Instructor, Creative Director of his own media production company, Fellsway Creatives, and author of the companion text, Grammar of the Shot.

Support Material

Companion Website

Please visit our companion website for additional support materials.