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Top Books Every Editor Should Read

Updated: May 2, 2020

A student must always be learning. A master must always be sharpening.

Whether you just started editing or you are a seasoned editor thats looking to enhance some of your skills these are the six greatest books on the topic.

In the Blink of an Eye

When Walter Murch writes a book on the art of film making it is considered a cornerstone of the art. In the Blink of an Eye is no exception. This book centers on the emotional aspects of cutting and is one of the most highly regarded books on the topic. Leaving behind the nuts and bolts and bringing the importance of imagination to the forefront in this book. It reads much more like a conversation than a book, albeit a conversation with a master in the field. If you understand the technical side of editing and want to see behind the curtain of magic then this book is a must read.

Cut by Cut: Editing your Film or Video

A terrific resource to take you from start to finish of receiving dailies to handing off a finished project for all modern delivery including film, tape, cinema or Youtube. This book is a fantastic overview of the entire process and highly recommended by many editors. This book covers everything and leans on technical aspects and should be picked up if that’s an area you wish to strengthen.

On Film Editing: An Introduction to the Art of Film Construction Technique of Film Editing

A great book not only for editors but for cinematographers and directors this book discusses the construction of scenes all the way to a finished project. The book is short at only 160 pages and is packed to the gills with information that can open doors in your mind to becoming a professional and solid editor. The rules of good editing are poured through and scrutinized forcing the reader to always be thinking about each cut.

The Invisible Cut: How Editors Make Movie Magic

This book is a nice contrast to Cut by Cut in that it focuses on the magic and the art of your skill. Many of your favorite film scenes are dissected completely to show how top editors make their scenes work. This is an easy to understand book that delves into the principles of editing and is highly recommended by many including Lawrence Kasdan the writer/director of Body Heat, Grand Canyon and The Big Chill.

Color Correction Handbook: Professional Techniques for Video and Cinema

In the modern day most editors find they need at least a basic understanding of color correction. This book is an outstanding standard on the topic of color correction. It covers a great breadth of information that will take you from a knob twister to a controlled master of the fine art of color correction. All major aspects including LUTS, contrast, style, theory etc. are discussed thoroughly and in a manner that makes them easy to understand. The author Alexis Van Hurkman is the guy who literally wrote the DaVinci Resolve manual. Enough said.

The Five C’s of Cinematography

Not technically and editors book, still editing and cinematography are tightly intertwined and understanding the concepts in this book will definitely help you understand the footage your handed and how to best deal with it. This book has been revised many times over the years and is still considered THE go to book to learn and understand camera movement, angle and technique.

Cutting Rhythms: Intuitive Film Editing

There are many books on the technical aspects of film and video editing. Much rarer are books on how editors think and make creative decisions. Filled with timeless principles and thought-provoking examples from a variety of international films, the second edition of Karen Pearlman’s Cutting Rhythms offers an in-depth study of the film editor’s rhythmic creativity and intuition, the processes and tools editors use to shape rhythms, and how rhythm works to engage audiences in film.

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