Shaping Edits, Creating Fractals

A Cinematic Case Study

in Projections
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  • 1 Cornell University james.cutting@cornell.edu
  • 2 Macquarie University karen.pearlman@mq.edu.au
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Abstract

We investigated physical changes over three versions in the production of the short historical drama, Woman with an Editing Bench (2016, The Physical TV Company). Pearlman, the film's director and editor, had also written about the work that editors do to create rhythms in film (), and, through the use of computational techniques employed previously (), we found that those descriptions of the editing process had parallels in the physical changes of the film as it progressed from its first assembled form, through a fine cut, to the released film. Basically, the rhythms of the released film are not unlike the rhythms of heartbeats, breathing, and footfalls—they share the property of “fractality.” That is, as Pearlman shaped a story and its emotional dynamics over successive revisions, she also (without consciously intending to do so) fashioned several dimensions of the film—shot duration, motion, luminance, chroma, and clutter—so as to make them more fractal.

Contributor Notes

James E. Cutting is Susan Linn Sage Professor of Psychology at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, USA. He has published two books, the most recent of which is Impressionism and Its Canon (2006, University Press of America), and over 125 scholarly articles on the perception of motion and space, and similar topics. His interest in the relationships between visual perception, culture, high art, and popular art led him to the study of film. Email: james.cutting@cornell.edu

Karen Pearlman is Senior Lecturer in Screen Practice and Production at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. She is author of Cutting Rhythms: Intuitive Film Editing (2016, Focal Press) and numerous articles on film and dancefilm in scholarly journals and arts publications. Her creative research film Woman with an Editing Bench (2016) won the 2016 Australian Teachers of Media Award for Best Short Fiction and the 2016 Australian Screen Editors Guild Award for Best Editing in a Short Film and six film festival awards including the Silver Remi Award for Historical Short Productions at the 2017 WorldFest–Houston International Film Festival. Email: karen.pearlman@mq.edu.au

Projections

The Journal for Movies and Mind

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