The history of film editing

I’ll admit, I love infographics and I definitely love great film. So today I wanted to share an infographic made by Adobe that shows the history of film editing. There is no doubt of the importance of editing as a tool for telling a story through film. Although it is sometimes considered “the invisible art” (because it is only noticeable when it is done poorly), good editing is an art-form and the final step to forming the film in the vision of the director and other artists involved in production.

This infographic on the history of editing shares some facts you probably already knew and some that are new. For instance, you probably new that film editing was done with splices (cuts) and tape, but did you know that was the way all films were edited until the 1960s? This infographic also shows the evolution of linear into nonlinear editing which was introduced in the early 1970s.

history of film editing

When I first started studying film in college, it was well after the invention of non-linear editing, but I had the opportunity to edit the “old fashioned way.” First I learned to linearly edit with tape which I have to admit wasn’t a great system (at least with my beginning skills involved). Then later, I spliced 8mm and 16mm films on an editing table. I think that there is value in understanding these processes from a storytelling point of view even if you never splice another frame, but I am definitely thankful for NLE systems such as Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro every time I sit down to edit!