Cut to beat vs against the beat…

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    • #49807

      I believe and read about how sometimes when editing a clip or music video, if all the cuts fall exactly on a beat, the pace can seem too predictable and boring. Cutting at a half beat or “against the beat” can make watching more enjoyable. If you watch any MTV music video, you will hardly see cuts “on-the-beat”.

      I’m asking because I made a 1.5 minute clip of bride preps that the client (who is a freelance videographer – not the couple) asked that I keep it short and simple. I am satisfied with what I did but my client has this illusion that every cut MUST be on a beat and he says that the clip looks unprofessional because the cuts don’t match up with all the beats of the song.

      I tried to educate him but he doesn’t want to think outside the box. I’m usually an assertive guy but being self-taught with editing (although I’ve been doing it for 8 years and have a good reputation), I wanted to do something that I haven’t done in a while and that is to ask you guys to watch the 1.5 minute clip and tell me if you felt not at ease with the pace and cuts. The clip can be watched here:

      Thank you so much.

    • #203748

      There’s more to editing than cutting (or not cutting) on the beat. Sometimes there are obvious beats that will feel dull if you don’t hit those beats, but in my opinion editing is more about the pace, timing, and “story.”

      I don’t think your video is bad at all, but it’s also kind of hard to weigh cutting on the beat vs off the beat when I only have one of those scenarios to evaluate. Sure, your edit doesn’t feel uneasy or jarring, but maybe cutting on the beat more often really would give the piece more energy. It’s hard to say without seeing a version that cuts on the beat…

      My only criticism is the pace remained the same after that transition at 1:00. I would have picked up the pace after that and tried to make it more exciting.

      If your client wants you hitting on all the beats, then do it. He hired you to give him what he wants; not to educate him and tell him whats better. If you don’t like the piece, then just don’t add it to your reel. Or don’t work for him in the future.

    • #203749

      I agree with Rob. Cutting to the beat is the safe bet, but not always the ‘best’ bet in terms of telling the story. Look at the music as a whole, not just a beat. Where does it peak? Where is lull? What shots would suit those sections best?

      In looking at your clip, I was more distracted by the amount of “start close then zoom out” shots than the placement of your cuts. Likewise, use of some natural sound would make this look less like music video, and suit your choice of cuts better. But you can ask a dozen people and get different opinions. That doesn’t mean any are more valid than yours.

      Unfortunately, at times you have to swallow your artistic pride and give the client what they are paying for. Unless you’re Michelangelo and can pull a sly trick like “The Creation of Adam”

    • #203750

      Thanks for the reply.

      To sum up:

      I agree about the zooms, pans and tilts… I don’t like them either but the client was the one who filmed it and that’s his style. He doesn’t leave me margin room on the shots so I don’t have much choice but to use those movements.

      Of course if a client wants a dull “cut-on-every-beat” I will do that since he’s the one paying. My question here was just because I didn’t get instructions before the editing and my first edit will always strive to be professional and he didn’t just ask me to change the clip but said that since it’s not cut on every beat, it wasn’t edited professionally, so I just needed to show him feedback from people that worked in television (not like myself who is self taught) so he can be assure that my first edit, although might not be to his taste (and I’ll of course change it) but it is professional and doesn’t break editing rules.

      Rob, I would have also picked up the pace but I didn’t have enough footage to do so. From that shot to the car, I only had the shots I used. That’s why the clip is only 1.5 minutes and not the whole song… because I didn’t have enough footage.

    • #203751

      My view is that you cut to the style of the music, so for this one, I think I would have made more of them on the beat – especially as there is a snag hit on each beat of the bar – so some come early or late but are close to the beat – this is when they think something is wrong. I guess what I’m saying is that if you divide a beat into 100ths, then a cut in the 1-15 area or the 85 -100 area should be on the beat – if they happen between 15-85, then they’re far enough away not to grate – but some clients may just be more rhythmically aware.

      I too agree that cutting from a zoom going one way to one going the other is a bit of a crunch. Some of the cuts might have worked as dissolves. When I work with others, I have to expect their work to be different to mine – I see and hear things I personally would not have done, but if it works……..

      It’s pretty clear this client isn’t happy – so you have two choices. re-edit or don’t. You mention the client shot the images to his style – you edited to yours. We don’t like his shots, he doesn’t like your editing. It sounds like a no win one, to me. If getting paid depends on client acceptance, then I’d just re-edit. Not a major job to go back in and re-trim – but an annoying one. Doing it all to the beat will be very predictable and dull – but if that’s what they want …….

      There is no absolute. Making a music video is not the same as a wedding video. The real problem is the music – it’s just not really appropriate as the rhythm track is so prominent making you tap your feet – and this is exactly what an on the beat music cut works for – this one doesn’t match.

    • #203752

      For this video, I tend to agree with the client… since I had a music background before I started video editing – I like things on the beat. The cuts sort of remind me of someone trying to clap to the music, but they are just a little behind because they have no rhythm. Maybe this is just my musical background talking…

    • #203753

      Thanks. It was his song choice. Yes, I will re-edit… actually, it’s not a big deal as I just am going to move some cuts.

    • #210626
      Phillip Edinboro

      I am almost two years late, lol but after seeing the video i think the camera operator did a terrible job with the shoot and left you the editor in a difficult position. For that particulat song, i would have cut to beat using slow dissolve transitions a few seconds ahead of the beat so that the transition ends directly on beat. If you've re-done it, what's the link, I would love to see it.


    • #213715

      cut when it feels right to cut and switch up the pace, whats the deal with this on the beat rule it doesn’t exist.

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