Despite the necessity of good editing in films, there aren’t nearly as many books on the subject as you might suppose. This is largely due to the fact that editing is, by its nature, animated, whereas books are not (at least, not printed books).
With that said, Gael Chandler has come up with a rather creative way of addressing the basics of editing for both filmmakers and film enthusiasts. She selects screen frames from famous films that illustrate the basics of editing and then describes the action these frames describe. Unlike many books on this subject that I’ve seen, she uses films that are well known enough that you can easily get a copy from Netflix or Blockbuster and watch them for yourself to get a better feel of the pacing she describes.
Full of pictures that back up the descriptions in the book, Film Editing is quite easy to understand throughout. The fact that each editing principle is usually demonstrated in three to five different films increases the likelihood that you’ve seen the sequences the author is talking about and can, therefore, understand things much easier.
Despite the fact that it’s less than 200 pages, the author has managed to cram a lot of information into this book. She starts with basic cuts and then moves into specialty cuts and dissolves and then moves into special effects transitions. Finally, she gives an overview of different places that certain types of editing should be used to help the narrative come to life.
One thing I do wish she would have done is to include timecode for the various film edits she showcased in the book. That way, you could easily look at the live action versions of some of the frames she included when you watch the DVD. (Yes, I know there are numerous DVD versions out there of movies, but timecode will at least give you a ball park!)
Overall, this book does a pretty good job of holding your interest. While there are areas you’ll likely gloss over if you’re already familiar with them, any content that is new to you is captivatingly described and portrayed.
While the main read through of the book is very insightful and useful, it probably isn’t going to be reused terribly much, since, once the main concepts are in your head, you’re unlikely to forget them. Still, it’s a useful reference and refresher book if you want to remind yourself about some of the things you use less often.
While the books subject and content are definitely useful and valuable, the fact that the book is as short as it is and the fact that there are very few pages that are actually in color makes the $34.95 price tag a bit steep for many filmmakers. I think most users would either prefer the book to be all in color for that price or that the price point be reduced to $24.95. (Of course, you can get a pretty decent discount on the book with our special Amazon discount link!)
Gael Chandler’s Film Editing has a lot of really helpful information on editing, especially for new filmmakers and/or film lovers. While more experienced filmmakers might find much of what’s in this book to be concepts they’re already familiar with, nearly anyone who reads this book will find their awareness of the art of editing expanded. As such, this is definitely a book to take a look at if you want to learn more about the process of sculpting and honing film, which is editing.