Pacing is a difficult concept to pin down. What distinguishes one film as quick and enjoyable and another as tedious and laborious? It is more than the number of cuts or the time interval between them. Pacing is both a practical and ethereal factor that influences how people see a film and follow along with the plot on the screen.
And it is not limited to film. Whether it’s a television commercial, a YouTube product review, or a TikTok, each video should be concerned with its speed. The issue is this: How do you establish and manage pace in your projects? While the answer is rather convoluted, it becomes clear once all the parts of filmmaking are considered, from the screenplay through the filming to the cut. Therefore, let’s examine the five secrets of pace and how to avoid your projects becoming stale.
Storyboard and Script
Pacing begins far before you begin assembling your edit. A project’s tempo is established early in the outline and scripting phases. You can choose your speed during pre-production to arrange your shoot and edit process. Particular initiatives are intended to progress at a different pace.
A project or scene intended to communicate tension or perplexity will be designed and built using a high number of shots, cuts, and movement. A project or scene intended to be more contemplative and emotive may benefit from lengthy shots, slow motion, and minimal cuts. It’s critical to assess your speed early and often as you describe your initiatives.
Once you’ve entered your screenplay, you may add pace via your writing style and scene comments (i.e., “the action accelerates,” “the tempo quickens”). Additionally, you may begin to establish a sense of tempo in your storyboards, which are crucial for establishing how each scene will enter and depart. This will also assist you in determining which camera motions and movements are necessary to establish pace and speed.
Shoot with Intent
Along with storyboarding your screenplay with pace in mind, it’s critical to approach production with pacing in mind. Aesthetically good filmmaking is about more than technical ability or composition. It is a matter of intention. How much consideration and care can you devote to each situation and shot? The pacing of a film is determined by a delicate balance of all the aspects of filmmaking.
A single photo contributes to the overall speed of your project. How does it fit with the shot immediately before it and the one immediately after it? Are the performers or subjects moving at the same pace and intentions? Is your camera in sync with them, or does it stay stationary? How does this photo relate to the characters’ emotions and the larger narrative? If you can request these questions yourself and have strong responses, you can intentionally regulate the pace.
Utilize Movement to Create Momentum
Once you are certain that you have a firm grasp on how pacing will function in your production shot by shot, you can truly delve into building this pacing by using all of the tools available to you as a filmmaker. A movement is an excellent tool for characterizing the overall tempo. From shot to shot, a movement created by your actors, subjects, or the camera itself may generate momentum.
It isn’t easy to realize that the basic act of panning a camera left to right was once deemed groundbreaking. However, cinematographers and filmmakers have experimented with new and inventive techniques to generate momentum by moving the camera since The Great Train Robbery. Along with the YouTube video above, continue reading to learn more about the value of camera movement.
Rather than Editing Sequence by Sequence
One common issue with pace in most film productions is inconsistencies across scenes and sequences. Simply having one well-paced action sequence that is aesthetically gorgeous and presented well does not guarantee that it will always work with the emotional connection sequence in the next scene.
Pacing is crucial for maintaining consistency and striking the appropriate balance between various styles and speeds. A fantastic example of proper pace is given above by going through Christopher Nolan’s flicks. Nolan, best known for his mega-blockbuster films and franchises, is a master of pace and striking the right mix of fast and slow.
Additionally, you can see some excellent instances of how Nolan develops speed with various camera approaches, compositional framing, and music. What’s critical is that, although he utilizes a variety of techniques and speeds, he always finds a way to connect each sequence and scene so that you don’t feel as if you’re seeing a series of little vignettes. Rather than that, everything is integrated into a completely formed whole.
Enhance your video with graphics, effects, and motion
Finally, as a final phase, one excellent opportunity to tweak and adapt the speed of your movie is during the final stages of editing, when you add graphics, effects, and digital motion. You may see some excellent components, such as camera tremors in several of Christopher Nolan’s previous films.
While many of them are captured on camera and in real life, adding some dynamic shaking post-production may be beneficial. Shakes add suspense and discomfort to sequences that may drag somewhat if filmed with a static camera. We’ve discussed ways to increase your speed via movement.
You may even initiate this movement after the fact, if necessary. Using various transitions, visuals, and effects may give your scenes a more lively and colorful feel, particularly if the added information is critical to the project, such as titles or bottom thirds. You can learn more about creating titles, text, and animation in this collection of lessons.