A film cut is when the film camera goes from one shot to the next. It’s a transition from one idea to another. While cuts are an integral part of filmmaking, there are a number of different types of film cuts.
A film cut is created to achieve one of the many suspensions of disbelief within a movie. Many methods have been used to do this since the early days of video editing. It compares older black-and-white movies with colors where you might get a conversation between two characters due to the camera switching between each character.
Such as in older movies as they sat at a table talking while others were around them. In this post, we will try to elaborate on the different types of film cuts available to you when trying to accomplish your suspension of disbelief or desired effect.
A film cut is where one scene ends and another begins. The world of filmmaking has evolved so much that we now have this art of creating different scenes within a single sequence. The first thing to understand is how the camera works. There are two main components that make up the camera.
These two parts are the lens and the body of the camera. The lens is what focuses light onto the surface of the film. When you press the shutter button on your camera, you will be letting in light through this lens and into the body of your camera, which will then be captured by the digital sensor inside your camera.
For example, they can be used to move the story along by introducing new locations or characters or even progressing time. Cuts can also help create moods and feelings such as tension or excitement in your audience by taking them through different shots quickly.
However, you may have noticed that there are different types of cuts. There are straight cuts, fade-ins and fade-outs, wipes, dissolves, and lots more. These transitions can be used for any number of reasons: to convey the passage of time, to replace a scene or location with another one, or simply to add a bit of flair to your production. Let’s learn about the most common film cuts as follows:
A jump cut is when there is an interruption between two shots that do not appear to go together. This usually involves a break in the continuity of time or space. For example, if the action on-screen suddenly moves forward in time or location without proper transition, this may be considered a jump cut. It is often used to use jump cuts when they have limited amounts of footage available. And when you need to create a sense of continuity in order to move things along quickly.
Jump cuts are editing techniques used in film and television to move a scene forward in time. Omitting part of the action creates a discontinuity in the story and makes the audience aware they are watching a film. This type of film cut is most often created by removing middle parts from shots. A shot of a subject is taken from two different angles and then edited together, with the middle section removed to shorten it.
This particular film cut type was first used in silent films during the 1920s but was rejected by audiences because they were confusing and distracting. It gained acceptance during the French New Wave of the 1960s because it provided a strong sense of modernism and added to the story’s discontinuity. Filmmakers have been using jump cuts ever since as creative tools in their film edits.
A match cut is a film technique in which one shot is to another, where the two shots are matched by the action or subject and subject matter. For example, the first shot shows a man standing next to a tree. The second shot might be a close-up of a woman standing next to a garage door. The viewer makes the transition between the two shots seamless because they both contain vertical lines.
A graphic match occurs when shapes or composition elements repeat from one shot to the next. For example, if the first shot is an extreme close-up of an object with a circular shape, such as a clock face where the hands are moving, the second shot might be a view of a person’s face with a prominent mole that matches the position of one of the clock hands. A graphic match can also involve color or movement.
Another type of match cut is a conceptual match in which a sequence of actions makes an implicit link between two separate actions that are not literally similar. For example, if there is a shot of someone chopping wood with an axe, it may be followed by another shot showing someone playing baseball. Although this is not literally similar, it might still make sense because the idea behind both actions (hitting something strongly) matches.
A J cut is a simple editing technique where the audio from the next scene precedes a cut to that scene. It’s named for the way it looks in the timeline: The next clip appears in the sequence and overlaps with the tail of the previous clip, forming a J shape.
This can be an effective way to start or end a scene or act as a transition between two different shots of the same subject. The overlapping audio creates tension and can help build suspense. You can use it to convey connectedness between two scenes that don’t have a natural transition point. For example- two shots of a person talking in their car.
Another common use for this type of edit is to add narration or music over a sequence of images, such as a slideshow or montage. This technique comes from radio, where DJs would play music while they talked over it or told stories between songs. The name in this case refers to how the music plays briefly behind the voice before fading to silence.
In film editing, the L cut is a form of transition where, instead of a video and audio fade/cut occurring at the same time, one media element will continue as the second media element starts. In an L cut, the audio track continues after the video clip has ended.
The first use of the L-cut was in 1906 by filmmaker and director D.W. Griffith for The Lonely Villa, where he used a black leader to cover the cut between two adjacent scenes. The first use of an edited L-cut was not used until 1913 in The Mothering Heart, also directed by Griffith.
The effect is commonly used in video podcasting and radio broadcasting. The L-Cut has its origin in film editing. In television news programs, these are common, mixing interviews with clips of the interviewee and related scenes or facts to what they’re saying.
A montage is a technique in film editing in which a series of short shots are sequenced to condense space, time, and information. The term has been used in various contexts. While filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein is closely linked with this concept, many other filmmakers have also adopted the technique.
In film editing, a montage sequence is an alternative to the long take in manipulating time in the narrative. From its earliest days, the film has been used to play with time. Early film theorists such as Vachel Lindsay and Sergei Eisenstein emphasized that montage- the successive juxtaposition of shots- is the essence of cinema.
Montage effectively shows time passing, builds tension, or quickly conveys information. For example, if you wanted to depict the growth of a young girl from childhood to adulthood, montage would be an effective way to condense many years into just a couple of minutes on screen.
A Smash Cut is a dramatic and abrupt film editing technique where one scene cuts instantly to another without transition. For example, a peaceful, serene scene might suddenly cut to a loud and chaotic one, or vice versa. The stark contrast between the two scenes is what defines a smash cut.
The effectiveness of a smash cut lies in its ability to instantly transport the viewer from one narrative or emotional context to another. It can also be employed to abruptly end a scene. Thus, it can leave the audience in suspense or prompt them to reconsider the scene they just witnessed.
Smash cuts have been a part of film editing since the early days of cinema. However, it gained more prominent usage in contemporary filmmaking. Directors often use this technique to create a strong visual and emotional impact or to abruptly shift the narrative direction.
A hard cut is a type of edit in which one clip immediately follows another with no overlap. The viewer does not see any of the first images as the second image is being shown. Hard cuts are the most common editing technique because they are simple to execute and easy for viewers to understand.
It involves a direct, immediate transition from one shot to another without any special effects or transitional elements. This cut is essential to the editing process and you can use it to create a quick or abrupt shift in the scene. The goal of a hard cut is to make the jump from one shot to another as abrupt and jarring as possible.
The viewer should never see both shots at the same time. It creates a jarring effect where the two images instantly change from one to another. Editors can use this method for any number of reasons, including transitioning between scenes representing a change in time or location. Also just to show a character’s reaction to something that has just happened.
A Dissolve is a type of film cut where one scene gradually transitions to another, with the first image fading out as the next image simultaneously fades in. This overlapping of images creates a brief blend of both scenes. Dissolves are distinct from hard cuts (where one scene immediately switches to another) due to their gradual, smooth nature.
Dissolves are editing techniques employed in both film and television to create a smooth transition between scenes. Unlike abrupt cuts, dissolves are often used to convey emotional or thematic connections between scenes. By gradually blending two images, dissolves create a sense of continuity and flow.
This type of film cut has been in use since the early days of cinema. Pioneering filmmaker George Méliès used this in the late 1890s and early 1900s. As film technology evolved, dissolves became a post-production technique, allowing for more precise and varied uses.
Cross cut is a type of editing that establishes a relationship between two or more different shots. This technique is the standard for classic Hollywood editing and plays a significant role in establishing continuity.
Cross-cutting differs from parallel editing in that it does not establish any kind of relationship between the scenes. Instead, it shows two entirely separate events occurring at the same time. Editors often use it to build tension, as one character is about to fall into danger while another is preparing to save them.
In thrillers, this film cut is common, especially in escape scenes. Like in “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” where Indiana Jones flees a boulder and angry villagers in the chase scene.
In an Invisible Cut, editors seamlessly blend two shots, making the cut almost invisible to the audience. For instance, during a camera pan, the editor cuts the scene to a dark object or a flash of light. Invisible cuts are used in film and television to maintain a continuous, uninterrupted flow of action.
This technique is particularly useful in scenes that require a high level of immersion or realism, where visible cuts might disrupt the viewer’s engagement with the narrative. The use of invisible cuts can be traced back to the early days of cinema.
However, it gained more prominence with the advancement of film technology and editing techniques. It became particularly notable in the works of filmmakers who were keen on creating more immersive and continuous visual narratives.
Technical film cuts are all about flow, speed, and telling a story. They’re designed to give your project life in the most dynamic way possible. That’s why it’s important to know what types of cuts to use and when. We tried to capture the necessary information regarding this for beginner and professional video editors. Hopefully, it will help in further learning of editing technology and real-time implementations.