Cut to the Beat

Capturing an Energy: Cut To The Beat

Bev Tjoe

Bev Tjoe

Senior Editor

Cut to the beat. Cut to the beat. Cut to the beat.

Being at a concert. There’s an energy in the air. People jump and they dance and they cheer as they watch the performance. It’s an atmosphere of excitement. For this one moment, you can be with a bunch of strangers and share an experience.

And then you think about your friend. The one without a ticket. The one that doesn’t get to partake in this moment of exhilaration. You feel bad.

But then, you are thankful. Because, there is a camera crew on site, capturing this moment in all its glory, from all sorts of different angles and you know that this experience you’ve had, can be shared with another, in the magic that is a video clip.

Now, maybe that experience cannot be fully encapsulated in that video clip but it can get pretty close with the miracle of editing.

So the question is:
How does one capture the thrill of being at a venue watching a live performance – the atmosphere of energy and excitement?

And the answer is:
Cut to the beat

Of course this isn’t the only answer, but this is what I want to talk about today.

Cut to the beat. What does that mean?

Every good music montage has a rhythm, has a flow. One that is dictated by its backing track. It determines the pace and the energy of what the viewer is watching.

Cutting to the beat does not necessarily mean that your edit points land on the beat of a track. It also means cutting action to the beat. This action could be from the people in the scene, it could be from camera movement.

This is not to say that when you have a music track, that that track should determine all your editing decisions. You decide. You decide where to cut on the beat and where to cut off the beat. 

Why do you cut off the beat?
To emphasise the on-beat cuts.
When you cut a sequence to the beat, your viewer will learn how to predict the next edit point. They keep up with the rhythm that you’ve set, and this allows them to be fully immersed in the video. But you don’t want your edit to be completely predictable. You still want, every now and then, to surprise your viewer.
Cutting some parts off the beat, helps your on-beat cuts, have more of an impact.

It’s all in the feeling.
Use your editor powers to cut with feels.

cut to the beat

Now back to my concert analogy.
A performance might have a backing track, vocals, the audience cheering, instruments, it might have many things. And when you cut all these elements together in a way that has good flow, good movement, that creates the energy. Apart from that flow, you might want to add in some accents. The accents are just for fun, maybe to heighten the experience, or for emphasis.

And now, another showcase of my genius.

I’m showing you this clip because firstly, it’s a mini-ish concert and it just fits the theme of this blog post. Secondly, it’s a very clear example of cutting to the beat. 

They’re cypher excerpts from MTV Asia’s Yo! MTV Raps. The music is set, all we’re doing is trying to capture the energy in the venue. Of course, we add a bit extra in the edit for dynamism and because we can. 

Alrighty then. The reason why I am god’s gift to editing. Watch and enrich your life.

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