Proper pacing is the stuff of good storytelling
Editors control a story’s pace. Their ultimate goal is to entice us to go along without realizing we’ve been manipulated by someone behind the curtain.
With comedies or shows that rely heavily on music — think ABC’s “Modern Family,” Netflix’s “Master of None” and Fox’s “Empire” — editors determine the comedic timing and musical pace.
On “Family” and “None,” comedy is given room to breathe and the pacing relies on the subtext in much of the dialogue.
In “Empire,” much of the drama is told through songs and the way the show’s characters relate to the songs and music. For editor Raul Davalos, that guides his work.
“I try to make each episode like a movie,” says Davalos.
“The music and stories are very strong and we want people to feel like they’ve been through something so big it feels theatrical.”
In the case of Syfy’s reality competition series “Face Off” and Discovery doc “Sherpa,” editors handled the emotions and actions of real characters — makeup artist contestants in the former, and guides looking to secure their livelihood on Mount Everest in the latter.
Here editors fashioned stories out of massive amounts of raw footage — a Herculean organizational effort made easier by the use of digital technology.
Dramas like Netflix’s “Bloodline” and Hulu’s “The Path” aim to deliver their stories while building on backstory.
“The Path” sought to establish its characters in such a way that the audience wouldn’t judge them for joining a cultish belief.
“I kept it on people’s faces but I also didn’t use the faces too much because then they lose their impact,” says Tad Dennis, an editor on “The Path.” “We wanted you to have a sense that these characters were conflicted and we wanted it to feel like you could become a member of this faith if you were lost.”
Pictured: “The Path”