Walter Murch – 2. Editing In Real Time

thefilmbook by Benjamin B
This is my second video interview with Walter Murch, the legendary editor, sound designer and cinematic pioneer. I met with Walter at the 2015 Camerimage Festival, where he received a Special Editing Award.

In my first post, Walter presented the editor’s job as a combination of cook, surgeon and orchestra conductor, and he discussed, among other things, standing versus sitting, micro-dancing and cutting on the upbeat.


Walter Murch makes a point in interview with Benjamin B v2- thefilmbook-

Editor Walter Murch makes a point during our interview


Walter Murch

Walter Murch is a distinguished filmmaker whose credits for editing, sound montage and sound design include classics like American Graffiti, The Conversation, The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Apocalypse Now, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The English Patient and Cold Mountain. He also wrote and directed Return to Oz. Walter has won three Oscars, one for the ground-breaking multi-channel mix of Apocalypse Now, and two Oscars for his editing and sound mix work on The English Patient.

Walter is a true cinematic pioneer, and a technological artist. He is credited for coining the expression “sound designer”, and has always been at the forefront of technology. He was among the first to use a computerized sound board, and to try digital editing technology: he was an early adopter of Avid, then Final Cut Pro, and recently Premiere for feature films. Walter has also written one of the definitive books about editing: In the Blink of an Eye.


The Interview

In this second video segment, Walter explains why he chooses to always hit edit points while playing the video in real time, “on the fly”. He also discusses the “rhythmic signature” of a film, his suggesting dynamic trimming to Adobe, and how he approaches editing by starting with the image only, like director David Lean.

watch on YouTube

Note: I apologize for the video banding and noise. We had some technical issues during shooting.


thefilmbook: Walter Murch – 1. Cook, Surgeon, Conductor
thefilmbook: Walter Murch – 2. Editing in Real Time
thefilmbook: Walter Murch – 3. Jump Cuts, Sequences, The Entire Movie

wikipedia: Walter Murch

imdb: Walter Murch Dynamic trimming in Adobe Premiere (aka “jkl trimming”)

wikipedia: Dede Allen, film editor

wikipedia: David Lean

wikipedia: In the Blink of an Eye a book by Walter Murch Walter Murch articles



Interview by Benjamin B
Cameraman: Julian Sojka
Editor: Benjamin B


dynamic trimming -aka "jkl trimming" in Adobe Premiere

The dynamic trimming feature (a.k.a. “jkl trimming”) inspired by Walter Murch in Adobe Premiere(credit: and



  1. David Randall McKay

    I realize that this interview is somewhat of a commercial for the product, but what Walter is saying about ‘intuitive’ cutting is absolutely the truth. You can’t ‘go back’ and edit something. You have to rely on your gut feelings about when something should change, the rhythm of a story.

    1. Benjamin BBenjamin B Post author

      Hello David,

      Thank you for your comment. I too agree that there is something truly instinctive and decisive about choosing the moment of the cut. This is similar to Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment”.

      I don’t hear Walter pushing one editing system over another. It’s cool to hear though, that the folks at Adobe actually changed their software after speaking with him. That’s the way it should be: artists helping to modify the tools.


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