Keeping in Step – Editing to a Beat

The dynamic between visuals and audio has been at the epicentre of my contemplation of music videos throughout this studio, and the most recent line of questioning that has plagued me during the editing process is that of rhythm. Editing to the beat is an expressive tool which has lead me to wonder when, and how often is it okay for me to use it. To my great dismay the answer to how much I should edit in time with the music is unclear and so I have been cautious in walking my own path. So far I have let the video slip in and out of alignment with the music as I have found sticking to it too strictly makes the film seem rigid and each cut glaringly obvious. When the beats start to come in rapid secession I found this is a good time the make quick jolting cuts that bring a sense of urgency and panic to the film. I use this sparingly though, mainly at the hight of the songs tension and in times when I am attempting to distinguish the main character from her alter ego (the kitchen scene).

What I hadn’t realised before I began editing was that cutting to a clip on the off beat could also have a distinct effect that is just as powerful, if not more powerful than editing to the beat. The above screenshot is a prolonged shot that comes after a succession of rapid montage clips of our protagonist struggling with her alter-ego. The temporal shift is jarring and the off-beat cut is so out of synch that it feels as though the other clips were a fever dream that we are being pulled out of, back to reality. The 16 second long shot follows her slowly falling apart and I think it is a really gut wrenching moment that compliments the on-beat editing that precedes it. I really love this part of the video, but it is also the piece I am least confident in. It doesn’t follow the rules that I know and I find myself anxious as to whether the effect it has on my will resonate with anyone else. The distinction between quality and sentimentality for an artist is always blurry at best. Ultimately I have decided to keep this cut. I think it is important for me to experiment and grow as an editor and that means taking risks, and possibly making mistakes. To develop myself as an artist I must learn to try out things I haven’t been taught and seek new way to convey emotion through the pieces I help to create. Only time will tell whether I have made the right call on this one.