Edinburgh Research Explorer

ASSEMBLING THE LINE

Project: Research

  • Laurier, Eric (Principal Investigator)
  • Brown, Barry (Researcher)
  • Strebel, Ignaz (Researcher)
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date1/09/0731/12/10
Total award£395,583.00
Funding organisationESRC
Funder project referenceRES-062-23-0564
Period1/09/0731/12/10

Description

A three year research project, based at Edinburgh University, funded by the ESRC, consulting with University of California San Diego which examined:

-video editing as a form of work
-the workplace where editing happens
-the diverse practical and creative skills which go into editing together movies

The project looked at how editors, professional and amateur, analyse and assemble the audio-visual materials they have at hand. It drew out the lessons for social scientists doing video-analysis can learn from vernacular expertise. This was achieved in part through documenting and describing the forms of dialogue, agreement, disagreement and reasoning that underpin editing. Detailed analysis of video editing practice captured the ‘accountability’ of cutting decisions in real time as they are done, as well as preceding and succeeding the edit. This revealed the complex skills involved in becoming not only a competent but also an excellent editor, as understood via learning by doing.

Layman's description

A three year research project, based at Edinburgh University, funded by the ESRC, consulting with University of California San Diego which examined:
-video editing as a form of work
-the workplace where editing happens
-the diverse practical and creative skills which go into editing together movies
The project looked at how editors, professional and amateur, analyse and assemble the audio-visual materials they have at hand. It drew out the lessons for social scientists doing video-analysis can learn from vernacular expertise. This was achieved in part through documenting and describing the forms of dialogue, agreement, disagreement and reasoning that underpin editing. Detailed analysis of video editing practice captured the ‘accountability’ of cutting decisions in real time as they are done, as well as preceding and succeeding the edit. This revealed the complex skills involved in becoming not only a competent but also an excellent editor, as understood via learning by doing.

Key findings

Amateurs
Domestic settings
• Editing is a craft, which sustains a tradition of making things at home (e.g. furniture).
• It relies heavily on certain simple techniques (e.g. the cross-cut dissolve).
• Music tracks serve as templates and guilding.
• Youtube, Vimeo etc. have profoundly changed the circulation of home movies and become interwoven with websites, blogs and social networking.
• Central subjects of videos made at home remain children, pets and their events, along with travel.
• Primary logics of home movies are registering experiences & memories, for sharing with those at the time and for recollection at later points in life.
• Certain extreme sports have emerged or/and been reshaped around how they appear post-edit (e.g. parcour).
• Recording extreme sports is creating the archival equivalent of the logs and journals of previous high risk sports (e.g. mountaineering).
• Home video is often recorded by, and for, groups rather than individuals (e.g. baby’s first steps by parents for extended family and friends).
Professionals
Community settings
• The edit suite is often a site of (painful) learning for beginners where they discover the reasons behind various conventions they have flouted or ignored (e.g. ‘hosing’)
• Films made in these settings are of a different order of skill than the home movie – utilising professional software and techniques (e.g. ‘L-cuts’).
• While the staff are full-time, the community have incomplete, intermittent and interrupted involvements.
• They lead the way in disseminating editing skills to young people and adults.
Sports Production
• Digital edit suite technologies are shrinking costs and scale, however, legacy systems still using tape continue to allow quick, routine and dependable transfer of data from one department inside the studio to the other.
• More sports are covered, and at varied levels of industrial complexity, from World Cup with arrays of replay stations bidding for shot, to son & dad team live-editing MBK championships for course screens and website.
• Both highly conventionalised yet increasingly aestheticised with what replays can offer for ‘slo-mo’.
• Incredible interactional complexity of how editing decisions are accomplished on the wing, reliant on highly attuned awareness of the features of whatever event is being edited.
• Action replay is a central resource to understanding ‘what happened’, viewers expect them and they have changed how we perceive sports.
• A powerful moral order of editing where events are included and excluded according to a sense of the good of the game.
Documentary Production
• The director-editor relationship remains of fundamental importance and is worked out through conversation, gesture and the manipulation of sequential audio-visual materials.
• Making the film visible is an abiding problem solved by visualisation on the walls of studios, moment-by-moment involvements of the timeline interwoven with the manipulation of video.
• Recurrent patterns of reviews and proposals work the film up into a final object.
• Assessment of existing sequences and the making of proposals evolve out of joint practices rather than being done by the director alone.

Research outputs