Outcome 2 – New Media Editor – Verna Fields

Verna Fields 1918 – 1982  was an American film editor, film and television sound editor, educator, and entertainment industry executive.


Fields has edited more than thirty motion pictures, including Peter Bogdanovich’s What’s Up, Doc ? (1972), Paper Moon (1973), and Daisy Miller (1974). She brought George Lucas, her pupil at USC, into the studios, and she supervised the ground-breaking editing on American Graffiti (1973). Then she edited The Sugarland Express (1974), 23-year-old Steven Spielberg’s first major picture. That work led to her most heralded assignment: editing Jaws (1975).


Her father Sam Hellman, a managing editor of The St.Louis Post-Dispatch, had moved his family to Los Angeles so he could write screenplays. Hellman scripted Little Miss Marker (1934) and Stanley and Livingstone (1939) and other 1930s successes. But he had higher aspirations for his daughter than Hollywood. “My father was very celebral,” Verna said. He sent her to a fancy Parisian secondary school at the College Feminin de Bouffemont, before she studied at USC, receiving a BA in journalism.  In 1946, she married the film editor Sam Fields. The Fields had two sons; one of them, Richard Fields, became a film editor. In 1954, Sam Fields died of a heart attack at the age of 38.Her career as an executive at Universal continued until her death in 1982 at age 64.

Early Career

When asked how she planned to break Hollywood barriers against women in production jobs, she said this:

“I’m the wrong one to ask,” she said. “I was totally ambitionless. I got into movies by accident. I was on canteen duty during World War II, doing nothing special. I met my friend Margie Johnson one day, and we were on our way to serve coffee to the GIs. But her boyfriend was an assistant editor, so she said, ‘Come over to the studio first. It’s fun.’ Well, this guy met us at the gate. He was cute. I started hanging out there to be with the cute guy.”

Director Fritz Lang needed help with sound editing, so he asked, “Who is that young girl always hanging around?” Thus “discovered” by Lang, Verna was hired on as an editing apprentice, without knowledge or experience; and four years later, she joined the union.

Subsequently her first credit as a sound editor was for Fritz Lang’s While the City Sleeps (pictured above). She worked on the experimental documentary The Savage Eye (1959); the co-directors Ben Maddow, Sidney Meyers, and Joseph Strick and the other connections she made on this film were important to her in her future career. In 1962 Fields won the Motion Picture Sound Editors’ Golden Reel Award for the film El Cid (directed by Anthony Mann).


In the mid-1960s, Fields taught film editing at the University of Southern California. Douglas Gomery wrote of her time at USC that: “Her greatest impact came when she began to teach film editing to a generation of students at the University of Southern California. She then operated on the fringes of the film business, for a time making documentaries for the Office of Economic Opportunity. The end of that Federal Agency pushed her back into mainstream Hollywood then being overrun by her former USC students.” Fields students had included Matthew Robbins, Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz, John Milius, and George Lucas.


Shortly after the completion of Jaws in 1975, Fields was hired by Universal Studios as an executive consultant. Some insight into Universal’s reasons for hiring her can be gleaned from the fact that during the filming of Jaws, in addition to her editing, Fields had been “omnipresent…at Spielberg’s beck and call by means of a walkie-talkie. Often she would shuttle back and forth on her bike between the producers in town and Spielberg at the dock for last-minute decisions”. Throughout her career, Fields had worked independently, but in 1976, and following the unexpected success of Jaws, she accepted a position as the Feature-Production Vice-President with Universal.She was thus among the first women to hold high executive positions with the major studios.In a 1982 interview, Fields was quoted as saying, “I got a lot of credit for Jaws, rightly or wrongly.”








Task 6 – POV shot

A point of view shot is a type of shot used in film that shows a  character and then what the character is looking at. The point of view shot usually shows the character looking at something and then cuts to a shot of the object/person the character is looking at. This shot is used to portray a view from the character’s perspective.


Cloverfeild is shot almost entirely in pov. These type of films are meant to engage the viewer on a whole new level. Pov is traditionally a fleeting moment, a small scene in a much larger film. Films like cloverfield where we watch the entire film in pov only enhances the connection we feel when watching. There are many other examples of this in film. Here are a few.





Task 5 – shot reverse shot

Shot reverse shot (or shot/countershot) is a film technique where one character is shown looking at another character (often off-screen), and then the other character is shown looking back at the first character. Since the characters are shown facing in opposite directions, the viewer assumes that they are looking at each other.

Shot reverse shot is a feature of the “classical” Hollywood style of continuity editing, which deemphasize transitions between shots such that the spectator perceives one continuous action that develops linearly, chronologically, and logically. It is an example of an eye line match.


In this scene from the 2000 X-men film, Charles and xavier are playing chess and conversing. Shot reverse shot is used to follow the characters actions and dialogue. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWDDVuxFboI&feature=related

This is a scene from the 1971 film Dirty Harry. The scene where Harry asks “do you feel lucky?” is filmed using shot reverse shot. Unlike most shot reverse shots this isn’t over the shoulder. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Xjr2hnOHiM

Task 3 – Continuity Editing

Continuity editing is a widely used editing style that tries to make the film viewer not conscious of the editing by making a logical coherence, both spatially and temporally, between shots. By using continuity editing, the filmmaker switches between different shots in such a way that we, the audience, would barely recognize that the shots have changed. This is often achieved by changing the camera style to connect more with the aspects of the scene.

180 degree rule

Spatial continuity is achieved by the 180 degree rule, keeping the camera on one side of an invisible line that connects the two characters. This allows the audience to always know where characters are in a shot in relation to each other. For example, if one character is on the right side of the room in a shot, another on the left, the camera will stand on one side of them to make it apparent and clear where each person is. A break in this spatial continuity would be placing the camera on the other side of the characters, which would make it seem like their positions have switched. This would, most likely, disorient and confuse the audience, making them more conscious of the fact that the scene is composed of different shots.

To achieve temporal continuity, the filmmaker uses a series of shots with simple cuts to show that actions are occurring one after the other. Such quick shots lets us know that there is no time in between these actions. To establish that time has passed from shot to shot, fades or wipes are used.


In this scene from the TV show The Sopranos you can see the 180 degree rule in that the server and the customer are both filmed from the left side creating continuity. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ynrh5utUg0

In this scene from the film super 8 the camera is placed on the left of the person speaking, often over the shoulder. This gives the scene continuity and makes sense to the viewer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5UnJaFLM8E

Will Ferrells The landlord. In the scene where he is talking to the landlord, the camera is placed in pov position for both Ferrell and the landlord. This maintains continuity as the whole scene is about the verbal dispute between them.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_egOja-tuU

Task 2 – 3-point editing

The three-point editing is an editing method which is done by setting three edit points. The first and second point are the in and out points of the clip. In a timeline were the clip fits into they are the in and out points. The third point allows both in and out for the clip. Three point editing enables editors to use both source clip and sequence in and out points to specify the duration of a source clip. In Final Cut express the fourth point is automatically placed.

The picture above shows the In and out points of the software Final Cut Express. Once the points have been set, it’s simply a case of dragging the selected clip into the timeline in the order you want.

Task 1 – Non-linear Editing


Non-linear is a practice used in digital video editing.

There are many digital editing software available (see link) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_video_editing_software

This type of software allows you to access any frame in a digital video clip in any sequence. The benefits of using this method are that you can access any frame. cut it and place it in the timeline in any order you want, this allows you to add effects, transitions and fades that are not possible with linear editing.


Non-linear editing only became available in the early 1990s, before which the practice was simply video editing, now refered to as linear editing.

Linear editing is a process where you would select, arrange and modify images and audio recorded on a tape. This was primarily a physical process and had to be performed in a set (or linear) way. Some of the ways of achieving a linear video are as follows

  • In-Camera Editing: A lot of pre-planning is important when using this method as it requires you to shoot the scenes of your video in the order you wish it to be viewed. This process doesn’t require any additional editing
  • Assemble Editing: Video is not shot in a specific order but are rearranged and edited at the time of transferring. This process requires at the least, a Camcorder and VCR. the original footage remains intact, but the rearranged footage is transferred to a new tape. Each scene or cut is “assembled” on a blank tape either one-at-a-time or in a sequence.
  • Insert Editing: New material is recorded over existing footage. This technique can be used during the original shooting process or during a later editing process. Since the inserted footage is placed over the unwanted footage some of the original footage is erased.

Linear vs Non Linear Editing

There are benefits to using both practices of editing.

  • Linear is inexpensive as all that’s required are two VCRs and a monitor. This is in comparison to editing software that could cost hundreds of pounds to buy.
  • Non-linear is quicker as you wouldn’t have to roll through hours of tape to find and cut sequences.
  • Because linear editing uses tape there is no chance of a computer meltdown or software problems that may cause you to lose your work.
  • Non-linear allows for effects such as fades and transitions.

Louis Le Prince’s The Roundhay Garden Scene is thought to be the oldest surviving film on record and  was shot in a linear fashion. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1i40rnpOsA

The first nonlinear editing system used on a feature film was on Martha Coolidge’s 1993 Lost in Yonkers. The entire film was edited using Avid Media. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgGdgxAcaLI


Task 4 – Common cuts

Cutting on Action – One powerful convention of editing is cutting on action, which is a way of preserving continuity and making cuts flow together. It helps you make your cuts invisible and draws viewers into your story. Sometimes called cutting on motion, it is a very useful way to transition between shots, especially shots which may otherwise have nothing to tie them together. In this example from Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s 2002 film 28 days later, we see Robert Carlysle running through a tunnel, the cutting on action is when we next him running through a door and locking it behind him. There is also a shot where we see him inside the house opening a window to escape, the cut comes when we see him from outside the house jumping out of the window. www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rd9PWvrkbO0&feature=related

Match cut – is used when the beginning of a scene picks up an image from the end of the previous scene. Examples can be found in many films that feature two people talking to each other on a telephone. In this scene from the 1946 Frank Capra film It’s a Wonderful Life we see a shot of George at home talking on the phone to someone. The match cut happens when the shot then cuts to the man he is speaking to, Sam.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qf6e6dY1F0E

Jump cut – is where two sequential shots of the same subject are taken from camera positions that vary only slightly. The 1998 Tom Tykwer film Run Lola Run features a lot of shots of Franka Potente running. In this example we see a side on shot of her running as though following her from the road, it then cuts to shots of her face and feet, still running. These various angles of the same scene are jump cuts.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qf6e6dY1F0E

Cutaway– is a sudden shift to another scene of action, a different viewing angle or a shot inserted between scenes to effect a transition (as a bridging shot). In this scene from the Philip Kaufman 1979 film The Wanderers we see two gangs brawling. Amongst the various cuts in this scene is a cutaway shot of an old woman watching the brawl. This shot bridges the previous shot, which is the two gangs walking towards each other and the shot after, the two gangs already fighting.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCs-5PZ-B3k&feature=related

Cross Cut – Is swiftly cutting backwards and forwards between more than one scene/subject, as with a chase scene. The 2006 Martin Campbell film Casino Royale features this type of cut a lot as its an action film. Here we see James Bond running after the “baddie”. The shots jump from pursuer to pursued. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJubOZLpp4A

Sound/Music Cut (L cut) –   is a transition between two scenes where the sound and the visuals transfer at different times. in an ‘L’ cut the sound for the original clip is retained after the visuals have been transferred to the second clip. Usually this occurs during a conversation where one person may be talking and the picture switches to someone else listening to them. An example featuring this is the 2001 Jean-Pierre Jeunet film Amelie. In this scene we see two grocers talking to each other and the sound cut happens when the shot cuts to Amelie and her reaction to what is being said. We can still hear the grocer speaking but can’t see him at this point. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CJHZCPB9pY

Dissolve – The slow fading of one shot into another. A dissolve overlaps two shots for the duration of the effect, usually at the end of one scene and the beginning of the next, but may be used in montage sequences also. In this scene from the 1984 Joe Dante film Gremlins, we are already aware that the gremlins are loose and causing havoc in the building, the dissolve comes in when the film on-screen appears to burn away to reveal the silhouettes of gremlins making shadow puppets on the now blank screen. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgNp8th0huw