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Arts & Entertainment

11 Essential Film Cuts, From Jump Cuts to Montages

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 9, 2020 • 2 min read

After you have captured all of the raw footage for a short film or feature film, you can begin compiling the footage into a cohesive cinematic experience in the editing room. Editing is an important part of the post-production process. The film and video-editing process can be lengthy and involved, spanning many rounds of shaping and refining to fulfill the director’s vision.

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11 Types of Cuts

There are many different types of cuts and editing techniques film editors use to compile television show or film footage, such as:

  1. The hard cut: Also known as a standard cut, this editing technique cuts from one clip to another, creating smooth edits without the use of a transition. Editors contain most hard cuts within a scene, as using a hard cut to transition between scenes can be visually jarring for the audience.
  2. The jump cut: A jump cut is an editing technique that cuts between two sequential shots. In these shots, the camera position doesn’t change (or only changes a small amount), but the subjects move, giving the appearance of jumping around the frame. Jump cuts give the effect of moving forward through time.
  3. The match cut: A match cut is an editing transition where visual elements at the end of one scene are matched, either visually or aurally, with elements at the beginning of the next scene.
  4. Split edits: A split edit is an editing technique where the video and audio transition at different times. In a split edit, the audio from the next scene precedes the video or vice versa. Editors use split edits to cut together conversational dialogue scenes and reaction shots.
  5. J-cut: A J-cut is a variation of a split edit where the video from a scene transitions before the audio that matches it.
  6. L-cut: An L-cut is a variation of a split edit where the audio transitions from a particular scene before the video that matches it.
  7. Cut-ins: Cut-ins emphasize a particular part of a scene, offering a close-up or detailed view of a specific point-of-focus. Cut-ins can enhance the mood or understanding of a moment, and add to the smoothness and continuity of the scene.
  8. Montage: A montage is an editing technique that combines a series of short shots or clips into one sequence, often set to music. Montage sequences often imply the passage of time or multiple simultaneous events, and are a vehicle to present the audience with a lot of information at once.
  9. Cross-cut: Also known as parallel editing, this editing technique cuts between the action happening in two simultaneous scenes as they progress. Editors use cross-cutting to establish that multiple scenes are occurring at the same time.
  10. The cutaway: A cutaway shot inserts another scene into the existing continuous cut, occasionally cutting back to the original scene afterward. Cutaways allow the viewer to see what is happening outside of the current scene, offering a different perspective or context, or providing a moment of comic relief.
  11. Smash cut. The smash cut is a sharp, abrupt cut from one scene to another. Smash cuts occur at an unexpected moment, sometimes even cutting off a character’s dialogue mid-sentence. A smash cut is perfect for contrasting the tone between two scenes, ending a scene in mystery, or creating comic irony.

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