Editing: Reasons for a cut

Multiple Oscar winning editor extraordinaire Walter Murch (who literally wrote THE book on editing) famously said…


An ideal cut (for me) is the one that satisfies all the following six criteria at once:
It is true to the emotion of the moment
It advances the story
It occurs at a moment that is rhythmically interesting and “right”
It acknowledges what you might call “eye-trace” – the concern with the location and movement of the audience’s focus of interest within the frame
It respects “planarity” – the grammar of three dimensions transposed by photography to two (the questions of stage-line, etc.)
It respects the three-dimensional continuity of the actual space (where people are in the room and in relation to one another).
Emotion (51%)
Story (23%)
Rhythm (10%)
Eye-trace (7%)
Two-dimensional plane of screen (5%)
Three-dimensional space of action (4%)
Emotion, at the top of the list, is the thing that you should try to preserve at all costs. If you find you have to sacrifice certain of those six things to make a cut, sacrifice your way up, item by item, from the bottom.

WALTER MURCH, In The Blink of an Eye