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Challenging perspectives through the power of editing

By Sam Kent on Sep 04, 2018

As we immerse ourselves into a world of multi-media, where opinions and perceptions can be instantly shared on a global scale, how do we identify fake news and propaganda over what is real?

Did the royals have an involvement in the death of Princess Diana? Was the twin towers attack planned to open the gates to war?

Through the power of editing across copy, stills and motion content, media makers have the ability to manipulate a story and impact the way their target audience perceive the information in front of them. Usually to create a political or commercial advantage.

The power of editing

With motion content, editors, art directors and producers can work together to strategically fine-tune an edit to support a particular view. By taking the same content and developing this to transform the narrative. How? By considering simple factors such as:

  • Storytelling techniques
  • Visual treatment
  • Sound design

Storytelling techniques

We can take a bank of rushes and construct various versions of a story to derive a different emotional response. By thinking about the way we order the footage or the type of camera angles we utilise. For example, if we were creating a horror film we might use jump cut techniques on a character’s face or reaction to make the audience suspect that person. We might also think about the pace of the cut. If we wanted to build suspense, the pace of the edit could be refined to achieve this feeling. Or we could use masking tools to add or subtract people, objects or backgrounds within a scene to support the storytelling.

We could also think about character development and how we carefully represent a character within a piece of motion content. Think about this year’s Love Island. The production team will have worked tirelessly to ensure that the dynamics of the cast are a recipe for some serious entertainment. But are we seeing a true representation of who these people are or is this, intentional character development unfolding right before our eyes?

 Visual treatment

By executing different colour grading styles, we can impact the look and feel to guide the way the viewers feel when they watch a particular piece of content. The core treatment would generally remain consistent throughout the video. Perhaps enhanced in areas but this technique will help drive the mood of the film. For example, if we are creating a thriller, we might focus on introducing cooler colours to create a frosty feel.

Sound design

Audio plays a powerful part in any motion piece and when manipulating a story, we could argue that the music can make or break an edit. Have you ever watching Paranormal Activity without the sound? Boring! Whether it is the voice over, sound effects, music or a perfectly designed score, this will help bring an edit to life and sway the audience to think the way that you want them to.

Are we being manipulated?

Think about the last film you watched and how this made you feel? Whether you laughed or cried, you have been manipulated to feel a particular way. Perhaps, there was a character you looked up to? Clever editing and storytelling techniques drove you to hero this individual.

So, what makes news stories different? They’re not. Today, many people have the ability to create their own version of a story and share it with the world, which is why we need to question the content that we consume.

“As editors, we should look at the rhythm of editing like poetry and editors are the conductors waiting for the perfect moment to deliver the intended emotion” – Rob Cohen, Director.

Take the Madeleine McCann story for example. 2017 marked the 10 year anniversary of the incident… and the mystery continues. The nation has since been torn between feeling compassion for Madeline’s parents, Kate and Gerry, but questioning their involvement in the tragedy.


As marketeers, we need to challenge perceptions and click-bait headlines that inundate us on a daily basis. We need to be able to take a piece of information and flip it on its head. Allowing us to explore different ways of thinking, breaking down barriers and raising eyebrows as we provoke people to open their minds to new ideologies.

For our clients, our job is to help them identify and develop intentional conversations around their brand. Helping them to nurture their identity and turn heads for the right reasons. From a motion perspective, we need to recognise the power of editing and how we can use this to shout about our brands.

…So back to the McCann story. What do you think?