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Editing Breakdown: Watchtower of Turkey

Jonny Elwyn

Want to improve your editing? Get inspired with the techniques used in this epic video – a must watch.

Watchtower of Turkey was a recent Vimeo Staff Pick and it is a captivating short film by director/editor Leonardo Dalessandri, whose work all has a strong theme of controlling time in various ways with stunning results.

Leondardo describes the project as encompassing “Over more than 3500 km traveled in 20 days, capturing landscapes from the bluish tones of Pamukkale to the warm ones of Cappadocia, the all passing by a great variation of colors, lights and weathers through six other cities.

Leonardo pairs his beautiful shots with impeccable sound design, so give it a listen on your best headphones or speakers. Then listen audio only, to reveal the incredible sound layering and editing.

Insights on ‘Watchtower of Turkey’ from Redditors

Check out what other editors are noticing about the techniques employed in this video in two recent Reddit posts (Post 1 and Post 2). Here are a few of the best insights. As a quick aside, I believe Leonardo edited the film in FCPX.

Tylerdoubleyou: A big part of what makes this great is the sound design. Past that, the editor is really playing with time. Nearly every shot has been time remapped in someway. Past that, the technique is just that its really well done. The editor does a fantastic job of keeping continuity of movement and color. Many shots don’t seem to cut as they do just flow, because he’s done such a nice job of controlling where your eye is traveling through the frame and it just feels so nice.

Honey Badger: Lots of varying the speed of the clips, to create that frantic feel. Quick cuts to similar frames between the scenes, things being played in reverse then played normally, big use of similar colours especially reds. Crash zooms and dolly zooms. Clips being mirror flipped backwards and forwards (for example at 1:08) . Flashes between lots of the cuts, i suggest quickly pausing and playing between some of the faster sections and you’ll notice lots of flashes of colours.

Beezzy: Pretty cool video, the techniques however aren’t very difficult. Maybe some overlaying video but it looks like mostly just very well done time remapping. This can be accomplished in after effects regularly or by using twixtor keyframing (it will look bad if you’re not familiar with the concept). But check out some tutorials on time remapping and that should be your answer.

ContentKeanu: The shot at 0:12 of the bridge, is that just a fast rotation of the frame? Looks so fluid.

The bridge shot is cool because the actual bridge sways in the frame after the frame rotation stops, as if it were part of the intrinsic motion of the rotation. My guess is a prebuilt effect or he manually split the top half of the frame from the bottom and animated the bridge. Some very detailed work went into the whole video, a lot of elastic (easy ease stuff) keyframing. I also think he captured some shots in hyperlapse or otherwise stitched together a bunch of stills to create a moving shot (eg. the matrix spin-round effect) like the architecture/building shots that panned down and moved back.

Purplesnowcone: This is beautiful imagery with a helluva lot of ‘match edits’. A lot of people noticed the time remapping which is a big part of it but what makes this piece flow so well is the match edits and sound design. It takes a long time to sift through hours of footage to find two shots that fit the story, match perfectly together and fit with the rhythm and overall flow.

mybossthinksimworking: They also seem to be using a lot of animates – people crossing thru frame are used as a transition effect that are used as a layer over their main footage. Specifically at 1:45 the shot of the woman on a boat(?)(smiling, man with glasses in front of her) transitions to girl on a bus (red shirt)/ There’s another layer on there of a man walking thru frame that is used as a light transition. Most likely this is a 3rd element layered over the two shots.

Curious about the cameras used? Leonardo commented the video was shot on a Panasonic GH3 and Gopro 3.

Check out Leonardo Dalessandri’s earlier Vimeo Staff Pick: ‘Watchtower of Morocco‘: