Post Production

Dynamic and Continuity Editing


continuity editing

Photo by Lars Plougmann

Editing falls into two main categories: Dynamic and Continuity. Understanding the difference between them helps guide an editor’s approach to feature films, documentaries, music videos and reality based television, among others.

Continuity editing is generally used in feature films and dramatic television. In general, this approach belongs to productions where scenes can be covered from multiple angles that repeat the same action and dialogue, creating a consistency of time and space.

Dynamic editing, on the other hand, often works in documentaries and music videos.

In dynamic editing, concepts of matching and continuity rarely apply. Shots are ordered by meaning but not necessarily by their relationship to each other in time or space. A documentary filmmaker photographing a leopard taking down a gazelle can’t ask for a re-take or another angle. Generally, he only gets one shot at one angle. Because of this he will need to string together discontinuous shots to create meaning and tell his story.

Though various rules apply to all aspects of editing, continuity editing generally makes greater demands — such as the requirement to match action – than dynamic editing. In recent years, however, the lines between these two approaches have softened as documentaries and music videos borrow techniques from feature films — think of the re-creations in many National Geographic documentaries — and feature films borrow techniques from documentariestian xiao cheng, music videos, and video games — look at The Matrix, Crank, or Zombieland.

Excerpted from The Healthy Edit by John Rosenberg, © 2010, Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

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