The enduring wisdom of The Rule of Six in editing

-Senior Editor, Nick Jones

As editors go, Walter Murch is one of the more well known ones. Famous as both Sound Editor (Apocalypse Now!), Film Editor (The Conversation, The English Patient, Cold Mountain), and Writer and Director; Walter Murch is a seminal voice in the world of editing and post-production. In his book “In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing” he outlines, amongst other things, a hierarchy of 6 important factors in deciding where and when to make a cut.

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1. Emotion

How will this cut affect the audience emotionally at this particular moment in the film?

2. Story

Does the edit move the story forward in a meaningful way?

3. Rhythm

Is the cut at a point that makes rhythmic sense?

4. Eye Trace

How does the cut affect the location and movement of the audience’s focus in that particular film?

5. Two Dimensional Place of Screen

Is the axis followed properly?

6. Three Dimensional Space

Is the cut true to established physical and spacial relationships?

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As an editor, it’s something I’m constantly thinking about, and trying to improve my cuts by employing his theorem. It’s interesting stuff and you can watch this video for more information Walter Murch’s Rule of Six from Nikole Hidalgo on Vimeo.

or read Walter Murch’s book “In the Blink of an Eye”.

-Nick

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