The pace of editing these days is frenzied — to say the least.
It's not unusual to see films using shot length as a way to give energy to scenes that might otherwise feel flat. It's a style that many blockbuster films have used, and it seems like we've only gotten more of it as web video has exploded, and shot length has decreased (though films like The Revenant or The Hateful Eight take the opposite approach). Vashi Nedomansky, an editor whose work we've featured tons of times, has produced an interesting experiment taking a look at five fast-paced films with shot lengths averaging just 2 seconds, and a total of 3000 shots per film. The point here is pretty simple — when used correctly, this technique can still deliver a coherent film:
They are being played back in their entirety at 12X speed. The resulting video is 10 minutes long. Only one of these films remains comprehensible at this speed. You don’t have to watch the whole video…feel free to scroll through and view different sections and compare the films. You will see that the painstaking craftsmanship of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD survives the massive speed up.
There are some spoilers in this, so if you really don't want to be spoiled, you might just want to watch only a small portion near the beginning (or not at all, your choice!):
The first thing that stands out is just how crazy Domino looks from afar. I personally think that Tony Scott's later films had a frantic energy that worked for the characters on screen, even if you're getting way more information every few seconds than you can really process. As for the other films, Fury Road does seem to stand out in its coherence. As Vashi mentions, part of this has to do with the way the shots are framed. We don't have to spend too much time finding where we need to look, and thus it's not as uncomfortable as it could be — and I personally think it actually works better than if the pace was slower. Here's his previous video on framing:
Certainly it's something to think about if you're planning on having a film with lots of quick cuts. Where you place the camera can have a dramatic effect, and just cutting for the sake of cutting can take an audience out of a scene, and maybe even out of the movie altogether.