When you create a video and start to compile the raw footage into the final product the manner in which you cut that footage will have a dramatic effect on how it turns out.
With the right cuts, you will be able to exert control over the pacing of the video while crafting it into a compelling and gripping narrative.
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5 Essential Cuts for Creative and Engaging Videos
To do that however you need to know a bit more about the various types of cuts that filmmakers and videographers use to create engaging videos. More importantly, you need to understand how, when, and why these cuts are applied.
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1- The Standard ‘Hard’ Cut
As you may have guessed, this type of cut is the most basic (i.e., standard) cut that involves joining two clips together without any type of transition. It doesn’t add any additional visual meaning to the video – but that’s okay.
The fact of the matter is that the standard ‘hard’ cut is the most frequently used type of cut because it keeps things simple. However it can be a bit jarring if you’re cutting to a clip in a completely different scene – and viewers should be given time to absorb the change before the next cut is made.
2- Jump Cut
Normally the jump cut involves cutting from a clip, to a point in time later within the same clip – effectively ‘jumping’ it forward in time. In some cases, it isn’t the same clip, but one that is visually identical or similar.
Compared to most other cuts, jump cuts can be incredibly jarring as the subject and other elements in the scene will suddenly move to different positions. That is why it is best employed only in specific situations, such as to convey the passage of time or repetitive action visually.
Rather than using this cut directly, filmmakers sometimes mask jump cuts using various means such as cutting to other clips in between so that it doesn’t appear as jarring.
3- Cut on Action
To use a cut on an action, you need a clip where some action (i.e., movement) is being performed, and need to cut from the clip at that point to another clip that shows the continuation of the same action. Because viewers will be focused on the action, the cut itself will go unnoticed, and it will appear seamless.
Unsurprisingly this type of cut is frequently used in action sequences, but it is also extremely popular as a way to hide the cut and blend the transition from one clip to another. It is one of the best ways to make a cut visually seamless so that viewers continue to be engaged and don’t get distracted.
A cutaway is a cut that moves the video from the scene containing the main action or subject to an entirely different scene. Cutaways are sometimes known as ‘establishing shots’ because they are used to provide additional information about the environment to establish a context for the video.
The trick to using cutaways effectively is to nail the timing. If you cut to a different scene for too long, it will take the focus away from the main action and cause viewers to get distracted. On the other hand, if you cut too quickly, it may not give viewers the chance to absorb all the information in the new scene.
It is worth noting that cutaways not the same as cross-cuts that cut back and forth between two scenes.
5- L-Cut and J-Cut
Together the L-cut and J-cut form a pair of cuts that are extremely useful in narratives. If you use the L-cut, you will cut to a new clip but still hear the audio from the initial clip. On the other hand with the J-cut you’ll start listening to the sound from the new clip first, and then cut to it afterwards.
The reason why the L-cut and J-cut are essential is that they can help preserve the flow of a video by knitting its audio together. That is the reason why both these cuts are frequently used when editing videos that contain conversations, as they allow you to move from one clip to another without interrupting the flow of the conversation itself.
Now that you know a bit more about the types of cuts that can help you to create engaging and compelling videos – be sure to try them out. All you need is any video editor to do so, and for example, you could try out Movavi Video Editor as a place to start.
By using each type of cut, you’ll be able to observe the effect that it has on your videos’ pace, flow, and structure. As you start to understand them better, employing them in your videos should become much easier.