Editing for Maximum Effect


Dialogue Choices

Thought I’d write up a quick lesson for people keen to get into video editing. This one’s about editing dialogue, particularly how to get the most out of your dialogue. We’ll start with this example, where you have to decide between two pieces of dialogue which leave the same impression:

  1. Daughter: Can I get a birthday cake from the Michelle’s Patisserie?
    Mother: You can have one from Coles.
  2. Daughter: What am I giving Stacy for her birthday?
    Mother: Can’t you just make her something, or draw her a card?

Both examples tell the audience the characters don’t have a lot of money, however the second example also gives us more information about Mother and Daughter. Embedded in the dialogue we see that “what am I giving…” insinuates that the protagonist had expected Mother had bought Stacy’s birthday present. Mother’s response emphasises that their family doesn’t have much money whilst also dismissing the expectations Daughter has of her. 

The original character of Daughter in this example called for a Varuca Salt-like performance. A girl with a snobbish attitude, and who is prone to telling tall tails. She tells lies to impress her friends. The Actress had chosen to interpret the role with a slight twist, adding a highly charged energy, still keeping the attitude of the character. Possibly due to a lack of skill, in the editing room footage her lies look unbelievable. The lies appear suspicious and over-the-top. It’s funny.

Editing according to the original character as written in the script can sometimes make the  actor’s performance of the character seem unnatural. If that actor has decided to read an originally mono-tonal line as exaggerated and over-the-top, deviating from the scripted meaning, as an editor ask yourself: what has the actor done with the character, because that is who the character is now.


Editing for Maximum Effect

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