Editing a movie can be referred to as tailoring a movie. Just as people do not want to wear ill-fitting clothes, no viewer is ready to see an unedited movie. An unedited movie is not compact, brief and tight, so it does not lure the spectators. Editing a movie means arrangement of shots according to understandable perspective so that the viewers could derive aesthetic pleasure.
In cinema, generally two techniques are followed, viz., Mise-en-scene and montage. Mise-en-scene refers to the composition part of movie making or in other words whatever is being shot with the single switch-on of the camera till the single switch-off of the camera. On the other hand, the editing style and technique is known as montage.
Some years ago editing was really a difficult as well as lengthy task when the films were shot in celluloid. Edit actually means "cut" and the editors then really cut the unwanted strip from the roll and used to paste all the perfect shots into one and then photocopying that particular strip. This is how we get pre-edited celluloid roll that is ready to view.
Today, it is the era of computers and editing is being done in computers. The process of editing with the help of computer is called non-linear editing. It is generally seen that when the movie is shot, it takes far more time than what we actually see in the cinema hall. All the unwanted and N shots have to be edited from the film to give you the compact film. Therefore it can be said that editing a movie is an art and just as any art needs dedication and practice, the editor must rehearse this art again and again. Then only perfection would come and by editing a movie, he would be able to play on with the emotions of the spectators.
While editing the shots, the sound, which was 'synced' or recorded with the shots like the ambience noise, needs to be edited or other sound needs to be recorded afresh.
Here the editor gets the scope of creating artificial things. Some practice folly-where the object is actually thrown and then the sound is recorded. Editing is the post-production stage of movie making and since it is one of the vital stages, it can spoil the look of a movie if the editing is not done properly. Many people are of the view that movie is made on the editing table as everything from the effect of lightning and thunder to the squeaking of a mouse is available.
While editing, the shots are so arranged that the winner shots act as parasite to the stronger ones and sometimes editing hides the mistakes done in the production stage. It can be said that the argument between the linear and non-linear editing is often subjective. Whatever the type, editing should not only be the selection of shots but the right selection of the shots and the presentable summary of the shots.