An examination of editing...
Yesterday, when a gif set from Away with the Fairies was going around, originally posted by @phrynefisherdaily, @whopooh noted that the scene intrigued her, saying “I’ve wondered how [Jack’s expression is] supposed to be interpreted. He looks around the room and seems to smile in a slightly odd way.”
A few of us responded that the editing was a little weird in the sequence that the gif set comes from (Away with the Fairies, timecode 03:19 - 03:34), so I pulled a few frames this morning to better illustrate the answer.
(And to avoid any misunderstandings as this gets re-blogged out of original context, the weird cut I’m going to discuss is absolutely understandable given the time constraints of doing this kind of TV on a tight budget. I don’t point it out to criticize. We pay a level of attention to this show that no editor would ever assume.)
Timecode 03:25 – We start the sequence with this famous shot. Jack has been examining the dead body on the floor.
Phryne has brushed past Hugh to enter the crime scene. Jack was not
expecting her, and as we’ll see, they are still reacting to the kiss
from the previous episode.
Phryne enters his frame and he reacts. The same shot continues as he stands.
Timecode 03:27 - Cut to Phryne to confirm for the audience that those pair of legs are indeed hers.
Timecode 03:29 - This is the end of the shot that started in 03:25, angle still on Jack, Phryne’s face completely obscured by hat.
Timecode 03:30 –
This is the shot where Jack’s eyes seem to be looking around weirdly.
Medium two shot, angled slightly from below. The lighting is different from the previous shot, which makes the color of walls darker. The lighting change makes me think that in production some time elapsed between the shooting of the two takes – maybe a meal break, maybe some technical problem, maybe the natural light changed dramatically outside the window and they didn’t have time to compensate fully.
Phryne delivers her line, “Hello Jack”, so we need to be in a shot where we can see her face clearly (unlike the previous shot).
Timecode 03:32:28 – Cut back to previous shot, the one where Jack stood up into her frame. Note in the timecode that I’ve added frame number “28″ after the minute and second designation in the code. Now look at this next still.
Timecode 03:32:29 – This is the very next frame. It’s a very quick cut, and a bit jarring. The lighting shows us this was shot at the same as the still at 03:30, but the shot is shifted over so that Jack is no longer in frame. Phryne turns her head as Hugh enters, followed by Mrs Charlesworth. This shot continues for another few seconds and the camera pans to allow them into the frame.
Since this was shot closer in time to the take we see in 03:30 than the take we see in the previous frame, I think it’s very likely that Jack was looking at Hugh enter off camera in 03:30, or at least hearing him enter and looking over.
To sum up, in the take we see in 03:29 and 03:32:28, Jack eyes dart around a bit, but it’s in the context of being surprised to see her, plus the sexy proximity reminding him of the kiss. In the take we see in 03:30, which matches with 03:32:29, some of the eye darting is likely reacting to Hugh’s entrance.