Abstract: The modified autoregressive (mAR) index has been proposed as a description of the clustering of shots of similar duration in a motion picture. In this paper we derive robust estimates of the mAR index for high grossing films at the US box office using a rank-based autocorrelation function resis tant to the influence of outliers and compare this to estimates obtained using the classical, moment-based autocorrelation function. The results show that (1) The classical mAR index underestimates both the level of shot clustering in a film and the variation in style among the films in the sample; (2) there is a decline in shot clustering from 1935 to the 1950s followed by an increase from the 1960s to the 1980s and a levelling off thereafter rather than the monotonic trend indicated by the classical index, and this is mirrored in the trend of the median shot lengths and interquartile range; and (3) the rank mAR index identifies differences between genres overlooked when using the classical index.
In this article I analyse motion picture editing as a point process to explore the temporal structure in the timings of cuts in motion pictures, modelling the editing in 134 Hollywood films released between 1935 and 2005 as a Hawkes process with an exponential kernel. The results show that the editing in Hollywood films can be modelled as a Hawkes process and that the conditional intensity function provides a direct description of the instantaneous cutting rate of a film, revealing the structure of a film’s editing at a range of scales. The parameters of the exponential kernel show a clear trend over time to a more rapid editing style with an increase in the rate of exogenous events and small increase in the rate of endogenous events. This is consistent with the shift from a classical to an intensified continuity editing style. There are, however, few differences between genres indicating the consistency of editing practices in Hollywood cinema over time and different types of films.