In film editor Walter Murch's book In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing, there is a section on the editing of dialogue. He makes multiple references to the ping pong dialogue featured in Jack Webb's TV series, Dragnet. It has been referred to as "ping pong dialogue" because often every word of dialogue is seen being spoken in close-up. Therefore, if you were observing the dialogue as it was edited, your head would swivel back and forth as if you were watching a game of ping pong.
Though Murch concedes that this style gave the show a sense of "hard-boiled, police-blotter realism," he feels that this style is overly simplistic and "does not reflect the grammar of complex exchanges that go on all the time in even the most ordinary conversations."
With this in mind, I assigned my Post Production course the task of editing a conversation. I wrote a very simple conversation between two people and shot it from three angles: a two-shot and 2 one-shots. The fourteen students enrolled in the course were to each edit those shots together as if they were observers.
The best example was edited by junior Eric Auth.
As the students were editing, one asked if he could take some liberties with the dialogue by rearranging it. I was initially skeptical, but was open to being convinced. The student, Cassius Belfon, was able to rearrange the dialogue and still keep it coherent and continuous. Check out his version.
Finally, another student, after having edited the conversation conventionally, decided to have a little fun with it. This edit by Anna Hubbel is worth a look, simply for laughs.
(These videos were edited for CA245: Post Production, a course offered in our Communication Department, on the software Adobe Premiere, and it features performances by me and my friend, Mark Bennett.)