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The Technique of Film and Video Editing: History, Theory, and Practice [Kindle Edition]

Ken Dancyger
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description


"From D.W. Griffith to MTV, from silent movies to action films, Dancyger explores not only history, techniques, and the social aspects of film and video, but he also looks at how technology has affected film and video making and editing. This isn't a quick read but definitely worthwhile if you want to gain an understanding of what it takes to be an excellent director and editor.” -Theano Nikitas, Camcorder & ComputerVideo

Praise for previous editions:

"Ken's additions to his book show all of us who love and study the craft of editing, a real understanding of the importance and stimulating impact editing has in helping tell a story, create mood, and shape characters."
--Sam Pollard, film editor, Girl 6, Clockers, Mo Better Blues

"Dancyger's book is an excellent introduction to the art of manipulating moving pictures and sound for students, amateurs, hobbiests and professionals alike." - Videomaker

"...a thoroughly "reader friendly" introduction and survey of proven editing techniques and how those techniques influence the editing process..." - The Bookwatch, Sept. 2006"

Product Description

First published in 2011. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4452 KB
  • Print Length: 486 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0240813979
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 4 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Focal Press; 5 edition (23 July 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004FV4RV8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #629,691 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great reference book 5 Oct. 2012
By Spennet
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book for my grandson who is doing video and media at college and he said it was extremely good and in fact he found that his tutor also used it as a reference book so in that context it was perfect for him.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An in-depth study of the history and practice of cinema from the perspective of the editor 21 Feb. 2011
By Nathan Andersen - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's worth knowing going into it what this is and isn't. It is not a practical, hands-on guide to editing technique. It is not the book to go to if you just want a quick primer on how to make cuts that work. It's not really a book for beginners, except perhaps in the context of the classroom. For that a better book would be something like Grammar of the Edit, Second Edition.

What it does is provide a detailed overview of the history and genres of cinema, that focuses on the evolution of editing styles, and how films are cut together in ways that achieve specific effects. Most overviews of cinema focus on the visuals and camera movement, on direction and cinematography, and only secondarily on editing and writing and sound and other critical elements of cinema. In this guide, the emphasis is on cutting as the place where films are finished and where their impact and significance is designed. It's a very useful guide - and would be helpful for anyone who is studying film, but almost essential for anyone who wants to get up to speed on the techniques that have been used in editing.

The book is very clearly written and is very thorough. If it reads a bit like a textbook, that's because it is. What I found most helpful about the approach is that Dancyger makes clear how the techniques of editing must answer to the needs of a scene or the aims of a film as a whole. It's a crucial perspective, and a very helpful and thorough guide to editing's history and practice, that would complement a more hands-on and practical guide.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars flip through this one before buying. 15 Nov. 2012
By digitalman - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I enjoy filming. I have worked on a project that has sold a significant am mount of DVDs and am thinking about making a couple of documentaries. In my curiosity to learn more about the craft, I thought that this would be a good book. Right out the gate, it reads like a text book. In some cases I expected a quiz at the end of the chapter. It is dense with more theory and concepts more then hands on video editing. Not that this is a bad thing though.

Because of the vast amount of information, this should be something that is consumed over time and maybe even reread a few times. It would probably work best if you have a project in mind while reading. It did help give me some ideas.

Do not expect to learn anything about specific software editing, as that is not what the author is trying to accomplish. Although there are other great books you can get if that is your goal.

In the end, if you are interested in more of the theory of editing, this could be a helpful book. I am not sure if it will be helpful to everyone though as it does require a fair amount of reading without a cohesive connection between the chapters. In short it reads more like a stereo manual then a narrator style.


I typically don't do this, but someone asked a very relevant question that, after answering gives a little more depth to my review:


Thanks for the question. I want to start by saying there are many great books about video editing applications. I wasn't speaking of any one or series specifically.

Which one is best for you depends on which application you are planning to use. And the book that is best today, may not be the best tomorrow. Especially in a world where applications come out with new version and competing products. Also, what book may be best for me, may not be best for you. Your skills could be better then mine, so you may need a refresher course. Someone else, may be starting from level zero and needs something that is a more visual walk through.

My point in the review is this - if, for example, you are going to use final cut pro, and want to learn how to use it; then search amazon for books that teach how to use final cut. This is true of any specific editing suite... or any other software application.

But just because you know how to use the application, doesn't mean you are a great editor. If that was the case, then reading the owner's manual for a car would give all the skills necessary to win a major car race.

This book is to teach you how to edit. But the truth is to edit in a digital environment you need to have 2 very different skills.... the ability to tell a story and the ability to use the software. This book teaches you how to tell the story.

In the end, it is very difficult to tell someone what is the best way to learn. I am sorry that i can't give you a better answer, but your question is so vague I would have no idea how to answer it. There are so many factors that need to be brought up (experience, OS platform, video editor of choice, etc).

Best recommendation is, pick a video editor and look for the best books for it on amazon. Your other alternative is to sign up for lynda dot com and watch the videos there.
4.0 out of 5 stars Editing has long fascinated me 18 Oct. 2011
By Soar - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you are as fascinated as I am with the art of film editing, you may enjoy this book. It is definitely written at a textbook level, but it is a readable textbook on the philosophy and theory behind the storytelling of editing. Note: I would not choose this book as your first introduction to film editing. I feel you would be best starting off with Walter Murch's classic work In the Blink of an Eye Revised 2nd Edition, the gold standard for a book on film editing.

Editing has long fascinated me. The subtle, almost silent effect it has on the emotions of the audience is often not clearly understood. Film making is all about collaboration. What is that collaboration like once the film is in post-production? Certainly editing is not the most glamorous aspect of film making (when was the last time you saw an editor featured on ET!), and the process can often involve quite a bit of time in the post-production process. What choices, what decisions, go into this relationship between editor and filmmaker? How does a film editor select which path to take, what story to tell?

Ken Dancyger does a fantastic job of showing those of us passionate about films how to read a film. Yes, how to read a film. Using specific examples from films either known or easily obtained by us, he shows through example how the integrity of the film's story can be not only maintained, but strengthened. He also covers the editing process back through the silent film era.

Reading this material a little bit at a time served me well, and has certainly gone a long way to help me understand how film editors come to many of the complex decisions they must make as they work on a feature film.

In summary, a great book. In trying to make the material accessible and easy to comprehend, the book can be overly thorough ... if this were a little more concise I would rate it 5 stars.

5.0 out of 5 stars Aspiring directors and video editors...for history, theory and practice, this book is magnificent! 14 April 2011
By Dennis A. Amith - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There are many books on film video editing and books that have covered the history of video editing but I'm going to tell you right now...

"The Technique of Film and Video Editing, Fifth Edition: History, Theory and Practice" by Ken Dancyger is the best book that I have come across and read thus far.

And each revision gets better and better!

Dancyger has done a great service in covering video editing from the silent period to the present and covers various genres and also editing in general. The book is well-researched, well-written and this is a book that I wished was used in school because covers not only American films but it also covers Nouvelle Vague, from the jump cuts of Jean-Luc Godard's "Breathless", Francois Truffaut's "The 400 Blows" and "Jules et Jim" and there are images included in the book as well. Even Won Kar-Wai's "In the Mood for Love", Scorsese's "Raging Bull", Werner Herzog's "Aguirre: The Wrath of God" is featured.

If you are a cineaste who is planning to get into the film industry and wants to learn about the history and theory of video editing, hands down, this is the book to buy!

Here is what you can find in this book:

SECTION I: The History of Film Editing

CHAPTER 1: The Silent Period
CHAPTER 2: The Early Sound Film
CHAPTER 3: The Influence of the Documentary
CHAPTER 4: The Influence of the Popular Arts
CHAPTER 5: Editors Who Became Directors
CHAPTER 6: Experiments in Editing: Alfred Hitchcock
CHAPTER 7: New Technologies
CHAPTER 8: International Advances
CHAPTER 9: The Influence of Television and Theater
CHAPTER 10: New Challenges to Filmic Narrative Conventions
CHAPTER 11: The MTV Influence of Editing I
CHAPTER 12: The MTV Influence on Editing II
CHAPTER 13: Changes in Pace
CHAPTER 14: The Appropriation of Style I: Imitation and Innovation
CHAPTER 15: The Appropriation of Style II: Limitation and Innovation
CHAPTER 16: The Appropriation of Style III: Digital Reality

SECTION 2: Goals of Editing

CHAPTER 17: Editing for Narrative Clarity
CHAPTER 18: Editing for Dramatic Emphasis
CHAPTER 19: Editing for Subtext
CHAPTER 20: Editing for Aesthetics

SECTION 3: Editing for the Genre

CHAPTER 21: Action
CHAPTER 22: Dialog
CHAPTER 23: Comedy
CHAPTER 24: Documentary
CHAPTER 25: Imaginative Documentary
CHAPTER 26: Innovations in Documentary I
CHAPTER 27: Innovations in Documentary II

SECTION 4: Principles of Editing

CHAPTER 28: The Picture Edit and Continuity
CHAPTER 29: The Picture Edit and Pace
CHAPTER 30: Nonlinear Editing and Digital Technology I
CHAPTER 31: Nonlinear Editing and Digital Technology II

The book is also continued online for the following:

CHAPTER 1: Ideas and Sound
CHAPTER 2: The Sound Edit and Clarity
CHAPTER 3: The Sound Edit and Creative Sound
CHAPTER 4: Innovations of Sound


Each revision of this book, I'm just amazed of how much Dancyger is able to add but also keep things relevant for the film school student and those who are not students but have an appreciation for video editing and also for aspiring directors. The book is not only comprehensive and also a book that I would love to see many schools use in an academic setting, it's a well-researched book that not only is fascinating and an enjoyable read but also educational as you learn about the practical skills of editing and more.

There's no book like it right now that covers the history, theory and practice of video editing so well.

Highly recommended!
4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive, but perhaps too comprehensive 1 April 2011
By JackOfMostTrades - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I believe one reviewer stated the title of this book is misleading. I agree. This is a comprehensive book about the history, method, and philosophy of film editing from Griffith, Eisenstein and other Russian innovators of fiction films and the innovative editing techniques in such documentaries as 'Nanook of the North' than it is about HOW to edit. In this regard, the book bears more of a resemblance to the well-known "How to Read a Film" by Monaco that has gone through many editions. I prefer the latter book for its comprehensiveness and logic of presentation. The book in question here provides a smattering of the elements of the filmmaker's art (another classic 'how-to' book title. What is difficult about this book is that without being familiar with the films that are cited, one can only guess at the points the author is making. For example, he discusses a little-known Yugoslavian/British film "Before the Rain" which makes use of clever temporal sequencing. Now, I saw this film, so I was able to follow the analysis, but I doubt many other people that read this book will have done so. It's the same for many other examples. And let's face it, production stills don't really help much in conveying the experience of film viewing.

In addition, while editing theory is quite interesting from an aesthetic, historical, cultural perspective, I don't believe it is very helpful in learning to edit, although it may be helpful in appreciating editing. Since the book appears to be a textbook, I think a more productive way to create a learning tool would have been to describe a particular editing method, and then offer an assignment for the reader so that she/he tries to understand the theory by DOING. Sure, it's an old adage to say that you should "learn by doing" but that doesn't make it bad advice. One last point I'd make about the book's comrehensiveness is that there is so much film analysis that it's hard to distinguish the 'editing' aspect of filmmaking from the entire process of filmmaking. However, that may not be an issue solely with this book, but about the art/craft of filmmaking itself. To sum up, this book is so comprehensive in analyzing many elements of filmmaking, 'film editing' is a bit misleading as a title.
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