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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Editing: What is a Jump Cut?

Now that you're ready to get into editing your video, there are some concepts you're going to need to understand to make that edited video more enjoyable (or just make sense).

When you combine two pieces of video or splice them together, you're creating a cut. Think of it as that tiny moment of time when one clip of video turns into another clip of video.

It's important to address the idea of transitions here. Most editing programs come with ways of making your cuts more fancy...the most common is the dissolve. If you've ever edit with the iMovie app, dissolving is done automatically. This is where the clips of video slowly turn into each other as if they were overlaying each other. I don't know of a better way to say it. The cut is abrupt. And the cut is our friend. Down the line, we'll address the cut vs. dissolve issue, but here we're addressing a related but separate issue.

There are a couple of different things my mentors said that have stuck with me.

The first is that good editing goes unnoticed. That's why when you're watching the pro video on TV, you're not really thinking about all the shots changing constantly (and they are). In fact, you're not likely to see one shot held longer than a few seconds unless there's a really good reason. And I'll address that in a later post.

Another thing one of my mentors told me was that he imagined the jump cut got its name when it first happened in a movie theater and everybody in the audience jumped.

So what is it, already? A jump cut happens in editing when an object is in one part of the screen in one shot, then in the next shot is in another part of the screen. So that the object has appeared to have jumped though space and time to move.

Here is an example of a jump cut:


Pretty freaky looking, right? Sure...there are many times when professional editors use the jump cut for a special effect, but a lot of time in shooting and editing is spent trying to avoid the jump cut.

In fact, much of the advanced shooting tips I will give will involve strategies to avoid the jump cut later on when you're editing. That's right, when you're shooting, you have to be thinking about editing. They go hand in hand. The story is important and the jump cut is your worst enemy.

With some of the fast paced editing you see in many reality shows and documentaries, a jump cut slips in every now and then, but they are few and far between in the pro world because they are so jarring and they sure sign of an amateur editor.  The more you learn about shooting and editing, the more you'll realize how much time and effort is put into avoiding those jump cuts.

One by one, we'll start looking at some advanced SHOOTING techniques that will help you avoid those jump cuts later and also make you a better story teller.