Editing, scene transitions, and making comics

I saw a great video on film editing language late last week. I noticed a link between the content, and what goes into making comics. This post is a walk through what I learned. The link between film and comics is obvious, since comic creators have drawn parallels between film and comic making since the early 1990’s. I noticed one specific connection.

Dan Olson produces high quality videos for his channel Folding Ideas.

Scott McCloud is an expert of what makes comics work. His most well known book is Understanding Comics. What makes McCloud’s work so well know is his ability to accurately critique and describe the complexities of comic book panels and word combinations using comics. Some might say it is very meta. Olson similarly uses film to occasionally educate about film, while providing critique and commentary on key films. Since comics and film create stories with mechanical and structural aspects in common, I immediately thought of Scott McCloud’s books when watching Olson’s latest video on editing.

Olson mentions Aspect-to-Aspect (cross cutting) scene transitions. He then mentions the anime film Akira as an example. This was exciting because McCloud talks about examples of aspect-to-aspect panel transitions in comics using the Akira manga. I was happily surprised at the convergence of ideas here.

In a comics scene, imagination from the reader fills in the gaps between these single panels and images. We make the story as we read it. This is called “Closure”. It is one aspect of how comics spark imagination. Film similarly invites imagination.

Using aspect to aspect editing, filmmakers tie together multiple scenes, transitioning to different characters and places. Cross cuts invite the viewer to imaging that the events are happening at the same time. They fill in the gaps with imagination.

Closure seems to have a small place in film making, as well as aspect-to-aspect transitions in comics. In Comics, focusing on Aspect-to-Aspect transitions builds atmosphere in a scene. They create a sense of size and place. McCloud describes how comics from Japan – Akira for example – use Aspect-to-Aspect panel transitions to build atmosphere, a sense of place. To use the editing languagethey cross cut to events happening at the same time, warranting a sense of simultaneous action.

You can watch the Basic Cuts video at Folding Ideas, and see more of their content at the Folding Ideas Youtube Channel. Scott McCloud has a website with a list of published works.

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