The Rule Of Six

As you look at translating messages from surfaces to time-based media it’s important to consider the new opportunities the extra dimension of time can offer you. Just as two dimensional compositions rely on emotion, composition and craft to relay their meanings, so too do four-dimensional experiences. The dimension of time presents some unique challenges which, handled expertly, become opportunities. The surest way to capitalize on these is through editing.

The great film editor Walter Murch (American Graffiti, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather, etc.) describes his approach to effective editing as”The Rule of Six.” In the clip below he explains these six essential criteria for effective editing, but you can (and should) read more in his excellent and very accessible book, In the Blink of an Eye.

Thinking about the Rule of Six, take a look at these 12 short films. Notice how they engage—to varying degrees—Murch’s editing criteria. Consider how you will make effective use of these concepts in your own work.

Now, buy or borrow a copy of Scott McCloud’s excellent narrative deconstruction, Understanding Comics. Read the chapter, “Blood in the Gutter.” With these two resources you’ll be 49% of the way to making informed decisions about your own time-baed narratives.