If you asked me to recommend just one movie book, I would not hesitate. My choice would be In a moment by the legendary film editor Walter Murch.
And actually I’m not the only one. It seems like Guillermo del Toro feels the same way.
Book: In the blink of an eye: A perspective on the film editing by Walter Murch. Much is incredibly intelligent and learned. One of the best.
– Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) February 6, 2016
Let me shed some light on what to expect from this.
Originally In a moment was a talk given by Walter Murch in 1988 in Sydney, Australia. It is still 100% up-to-date today.
It’s just one of those books that touch on timeless topics that never get old. It’s a series of short essays, and fun to read, even for people who prefer audiobooks.
What you learn
In a moment will teach you the art of editing. A cut is not like everything we experience in everyday life, but it works. But why does it work, what is the purpose of the cut, and what makes a good cut?
This last question answers the rule of six and explains the criteria for a perfect cut.
Murch talks about what films have in common with dreams. He discusses questions that editors should ask themselves when creating the narrative. In general, he goes deep into his approach to film editing.
The second edition also discusses how digital processing has revolutionized the industry (published in 2001). I personally find this perspective on the history of digital processing to be very valuable.
Murch was born in New York City in 1943. In 1965 he started editing, mainly as a sound engineer. He edited the sound for The Godfather II and is known for image editing for Apocalypse now, The English patient, The conversation, and many more short stories and documentaries.
Murch won three Academy Awards. With nearly 50 years of experience in image editing, he is one of the few people who has managed to be successful in his role for most of his career.
He’s still active, with his last loan for the 2019 documentary Coup 53.
The worth knowing
Murch is a big advocate of the standing position for editing. He explains that the editing is like a surgeon, a cook to order, and an orchestra conductor. All of these jobs are done standing up and all of them require that you be very aware of your action in the time dimension.
Murch asked Adobe to use the trim-edit feature. to add Premiere Prowhich he himself describes as “Cutting on the Fly”.
Any of us can use it right now, and it really is the best feature to make sure a given cut works well.
Francis Ford Coppola wrote a foreword to the book.
You know, one of the most influential filmmakers of all time.
The first edition appeared in 1995. The second edition, which takes account of developments in digital processing, appeared in 2001.
It’s quick to read. Not just because it’s 146 pages long. First and foremost, it’s just a lot of fun. It is a full-size book the size of a folded sheet of A4 paper.
At the time of this writing, he’s # 1 in Movies & TV on amazon (with over 1100 reviews) which speaks for itself.
For whom is that?
It is probably the most popular book on the art of editing ever written.
Anyone who has been into filmmaking will find it extremely enlightening. Are you a camera assistant? Read it.
Are you an award-winning director? Read it.
It’s $ 13.
Many people would pay twice as much for some creators’ LUTs that they will never use. And unlike LUT packages, this book can actually help you become a better storyteller.
Seems like decent business for a couple of hours of a master class with one of the most influential editors living.
There are translations into many foreign languages.
There’s a Kindle version too, but I think this book really deserves focused time and a cozy spot on your bookshelf.
Will you get a copy Maybe you already have it. Let us know your impressions in the comments below.
Next time, let’s take a look at the last scriptwriting book you’ll ever need (at least that’s what it says).