Low-Budget Editing Techniques for Action Sequences
If you're a no or low-budget filmmaker, making an action flick oftentimes means having to forego top dollar visual and special effects for more affordable options. If your lack of high-octane explosions and car chases finds you feeling like your film is falling flat, talented filmmaker and editor Vashi Nedomansky has shared three no/low-budget editing tips that will give your action sequences and dramatic moments the (believable) big impact you're looking for.
According to Nedomansky, these techniques aren't just used on low-budget films, but big-budget ones as well. Films like Star Wars, Avatar, James Bond films and martial arts films employ them to make their VFX and SFX look more convincing and amped up. In fact, you may have used these techniques before to find great results (if done well.) Check out Nedomansky's low-budget editing tips below:
If you want your fight sequences to be both believable and high energy, Nedomansky suggests cutting out the last two frames before the action, be it a punch, collision, gun draw, whatever. This adds to the aesthetic energy (because it's faster,) as well as hides the effect (because it's faster.)
Digital Snap Zoom
We see this all the time in action TV shows, your CSI and NCIS. If you're looking at your raw footage and think that it's a little on the dull side, Nedomansky's second tip is to do a snap zoom with whichever editing software you're using. A bigger image on screen means more energy. Be forewarned, though, many have abandoned the zoom either in camera or in editing, except for maybe ironic or super-stylized reasons. So, it might be better to use a zoom like this in a chaotic situation to add excitement.
Shoot At 22 Frames Per Second
Shooting at 22fps gives footage a faster, more dynamic look, which could help even if there's already a lot of good action in your sequence. Nedomansky explains it best:
This technique of under-cranking the camera to get faster motion is a staple of action movies. For believable results -- shooting at 22 frames per second is a great starting point. For car chases, actors running and fight sequences, 22 frames per second retains a natural and authentic look, but adds a palpable boost of energy. Once you get to 20 frames per second or less you risk a comical or unnatural look to action.
To get a feel for what these techniques look like, Nedomansky demonstrates them in the video below:
A big thanks to Vashi for sharing these great low-budget editing tips! Check out his article for more in-depth explanations of each technique.
What do you think? Have you used these techniques with your action sequences before? What other techniques have you found work well?