ex 22 – dialogue rhythm

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ex 22 dialogue rhythm – exercise background information


All dialogue has a rhythmic and tonal line just as complex as a musical melody, all you have to do as an editor, is train your ears to hear it.

Actors know this, after all they are constantly timing themselves to their fellow performers, as they fire perfectly intoned lines at each other; well, at least that’s the theory.

Directors also know this, as they tune individual performances toward a combined perfection.

If dialogue has to be removed for any reason, then what remains must, not only make sense grammatically, but the new melodic and rhythmic line created by that edit, must also make sense musically. This is called intonation.

Ex 22 Dialogue Rhythm – exercise details

Shots Involved:

1 CU H (06), 2 MCU H (06), 3 MCU H (06), 4 MCU T (06), 5 W2S T & H (05)



But let’s have a look what the survey said; he scored at least five points. He has started dressing more smartly for work, he does go away for weekends more often, whether it’s work or golf, they are weekends away, and now we’ve got Caroline, my oldest friend, knowing that he was away on a course and it was at Southampton. I’m positive I didn’t tell her where the course was.

Exercise Aim:

The aim is to produce a decent cut of the scene, but at the same time lose the dialogue in red. You have to produce a new dialogue rhythm, as perfect as if this was the one that was performed.


How do you cut down the dialogue without causing damage? What shots can you use to cover over the joins?


When I cut words out, I usually say the new version of the speech to myself, and then try to create that timing in the cut.

It would be too easy (and the result awful), to use Tim’s MCU as a cutaway on each and every occasion you make a trim. Remember to be clever with the sizes of Helen’s shots as well. There is nothing wrong with punching in to her CU, provided the continuity is acceptable. Have a look at what I did.

P.S. There is a trick in the long version on the two-shot about 13secs in, where I have put an invisible wipe down the frame, in order to change the timing of Tim’s reaction, with respect to Helen’s speech. He was just too static in the original timing.