Post-production: editing.

When the Lumière Brothers first projected “Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory” on December 28, 1895, they were not aware that they had just begun a new art form, let alone the birth of an industry that would move masses, as for them it was simply a technological advancement that would remain for scientific research, and they never even thought about editing. From its inception, cinema was something entirely astonishing because at that time no one had previously seen a moving image, achieving from the beginning a global expansion, based on the simple recording and projection of fragments, known as “actualities”. However, it did not take long for filmmakers to realize the great expressive potential that cinema has, not only through different shots or special effects, but also through editing and montage. This was born at the hands of Edwin S. Porter in the year 1900, when he realized that by alternating shots of actions, he created tension and dramatization in the viewer. Thus, editing evolved until today, becoming another cinematographic phase, and one that needs to be considered from both the script and the filming process. This cinematographic phase consists of three main operations: selection, combination, and assembly; these three operations aim to achieve, from separate elements at the outset, a whole, which is the film. Editing reconstructs both the time and space of filming, providing continuity.

Stages of Editing

We talk about different stages:

  • Editor’s cut: This initial edit is longer, as it stems from the conjunction of the “rough cuts” that have been made daily.
  • Director’s cut: The editor and producer spend weeks pre-editing the film based on the first version, identifying flaws.
  • Producer’s cut: The producer has more authority than the director to approve the final version, which is why directors sometimes detach themselves from the final product.
  • Final version.


When we edit, we use a series of transitions, each with different connotations. We can see them according to the most commonly used:

  • Cut: the first to appear. It maintains the timeline, but the term is now modernizing to signify the passage of time.
  • Fade: implies a passage of time. It’s designed to be noticed by the viewer. If the fade is longer, it plays more with the effect.
  • Wipe: based on the cutting of the frame. It eliminates what’s there and reveals what remains; at some point, both planes are visible at the same time. They were widely used in the 1960s.
  • Action Wipe: no longer in use.
  • Fade to black: disconnects sequences, establishes a sign of separation, as if it were a new paragraph. Its use in the middle of the film signifies a significant passage of time.
  • Fade to white: usually used when there’s a glare.
  • Blur: suggests a return to the past or flashback.
  • Swipe: a very long panorama often used in photojournalism to express a geographical change.

If you want to learn more about editing and montage, be sure to check out our course!