Tony Zhou and Taylor Ramos’s Every Frame a Painting is one of the best film criticism channels on YouTube. The creators are excellent editors, and the attention they put into the pace and structure of the videos shows.
Appropriately, this month, Every Frame a Painting’s new video looks at the editing process. Zhou edits films professionally, but when asked, he has trouble figuring out how to describe the logic behind editing film. As the video describes, it’s all about reading the emotions of the scene. Stories have rhythms and natural beats, and you can cut earlier or later to get a different reaction from the audience. Where you cut a shot can make moments land differently, and figuring out what each scene needs is sometimes just a feeling.
We can’t put it into words much better, so watch the video for some terrific examples of how different editing techniques can change scenes. The examples from From a Few Dollars More, Taxi Driver, and A Brighter Summer Day are particularly interesting and should give you a great idea of the sort of instinctive rhythm that great editors have.