September 22, 2015

Keys to Creating Complex Transitions

A great transition can be just as powerful as a beautifully composed shot.

Let's be honest, transitions oftentimes get overlooked -- editors sometimes making their choices either arbitrarily or opting to relegate them to do simple work as basic cuts. However, they can be so dynamic, adding energy to your projects, as well as meaning to your story.

That's why this video from Story & Heart is so essential, because in it filmmaker Matty Brown breaks down the complex transitions he used in his piece Playground, Italy, which was featured on CBS News. Before we get to how he did it, let's check out what he did! Watch Playground, Italy below and take note of all of the interesting transitions.

And now, here's the Story & Heart video featuring Matty Brown.

The key here is to understand what transitions do. It's pretty simple -- they connect two shots, but doing that isn't as easy as you might think. For instance, it's pretty easy to combine two shots or sequences that go together, but it's another story with ones that aren't similar or connected (in a narrative sense).

This is where Matty's advice really shines. Sure, it's pretty simple putting together a simple sequence with shots that naturally go together, but if you're editing a music video, commercial piece, or just a sequence in your film that is a little complicated, you'll need to have more advanced tools and knowledge at your disposal.

Matty suggests treating transitions as an art form -- planning them before you shoot instead of addressing them once in post. Furthermore, choosing shots to edit together needs to be done with a little finesse. (You might not have this option if you're working on a narrative film.) Matty says to pick shots that have something, anything, in common, like lighting, motion, color, because you'll need to have that continuity to make the sequence appear seamless.

How do you approach transitions? Let us know in the comments below!      

Your Comment

43 Comments

King of transitions!

September 22, 2015 at 2:02PM

3
Reply
avatar
Jerome
Filmmaker
81

A true wizard, isn't he?

September 23, 2015 at 1:29PM

1
Reply
avatar
Justin DeMers
Story & Heart Co-Founder
93

While I was watching the video I couldn't help but notice in post that he works with many video tracks, does he uses them as some sort of transition technique or just a way to work overall? Awesome video by the way!

September 22, 2015 at 2:06PM, Edited September 22, 2:06PM

4
Reply

Watching Matty edit is a mesmerizing experience. He's constantly shifting shots around frame by frame to see what cuts together best. The result is a timeline that's a little (re: lot) crazier than most. :)

September 23, 2015 at 1:31PM

8
Reply
avatar
Justin DeMers
Story & Heart Co-Founder
93

Reminds me of a series of 15 second videos I made on a trip to Japan a few months ago:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBa8ByWSt4Y&list=PLdOu0Q4dITBJ-ziuLSg-zI...
I love finding natural transitions while editing and being on the lookout when shooting. Awesome job Matty!

September 22, 2015 at 2:47PM, Edited September 22, 2:47PM

8
Reply
avatar
Francisco
Filmmaker
15

This is really awesome !

September 22, 2015 at 3:18PM

0
Reply

Thanks Hary, I really appreciate the comment.

September 23, 2015 at 2:23PM

0
Reply
avatar
Francisco
Filmmaker
15

Very nice. Not only the transition but the use of SFX...

Motion pulse rox!! jajajaja

September 22, 2015 at 4:25PM

2
Reply
avatar
Marvin Campos
Film-maker and Motion designer
161

Thanks Marvin! I really enjoyed your 7 days in Ireland piece. I'd love to travel to that side of the world

September 23, 2015 at 2:24PM

0
Reply
avatar
Francisco
Filmmaker
15

Bravo!!! Excellent!

September 22, 2015 at 5:11PM

0
Reply

These are very good!

September 22, 2015 at 6:25PM

2
Reply

The visual diaries, that's awesome.
Especially the sound.

September 23, 2015 at 6:20AM

0
Reply
Sridhar Reddy
Director | Screenwriter
101

Thank you Sridhar, I love making visual diaries, I have a really bad memory so these help me remember what I did.
The sound design is what takes me the longest. For each of these videos it would take me about 60 minutes to edit and colour, and 80 minutes for the sound, but I think it's worth taking the time to polish your work ;)

September 23, 2015 at 2:26PM

0
Reply
avatar
Francisco
Filmmaker
15

These are awesome Francisco!

September 23, 2015 at 1:31PM

0
Reply
avatar
Justin DeMers
Story & Heart Co-Founder
93

Thanks Justin, it was super fun to make them while I was travelling. Quite the challenge to travel/shoot during the day and edit during the night.

September 23, 2015 at 2:22PM

4
Reply
avatar
Francisco
Filmmaker
15

Dope.

September 23, 2015 at 1:43PM

3
Reply

Really cool way to document your trip. I'm actually going to the US for around 25 days next month, and I've been thinking of doing something similar as a sort of daily vlog of the whole experience, on top of making a longer video.

I think it'll help a lot in making me a better editor, and forcing to push content out faster. Thanks for the inspiration!

September 24, 2015 at 6:33AM

2
Reply
avatar
Sebastian Kammonen
Filmmaker
278

man you're fuckin great! editing is awesome and congrats for the audio construction, so powerful!

September 25, 2015 at 11:00AM

5
Reply
avatar
Samuel Fortunato
Director, Cinematographer, Editor
4

Great videos!

September 25, 2015 at 1:49PM

0
Reply
avatar
George Peck
Filmmaker
90

your Japan shorts are great ! very 90's MTV style.

September 28, 2015 at 5:34AM

0
Reply
avatar
nicolas boyer
freelance art director in advertising
8

Really enjoyed these shorts. As if Edgar Wright did travel videos!

September 29, 2015 at 11:11AM

0
Reply
avatar
Jake Gorton
Producer
156

Any Chance for a quick tutorial Matty?? that would be awesome.

September 22, 2015 at 3:20PM

2
Reply

Great video. This has been in my head lately. Last video i did i tried to use as many nice transitions as i can.
I always try to use the original movement of the camera combined with elements moving on the frame.

I would be great if you guys could check it out

https://vimeo.com/139259364

September 22, 2015 at 4:00PM, Edited September 22, 4:00PM

0
Reply
avatar
Marvin Campos
Film-maker and Motion designer
161

very cool. Nice work

September 22, 2015 at 6:36PM

0
Reply
Paul Oblock
Video Editor/Cinematographer
1

Great! Where did you get the sound effects for the transitions?

September 23, 2015 at 2:47AM

4
Reply
avatar
Jerome
Filmmaker
81

Some i did, some is from motion pulse from videocopilot... same sfx that this guy above used for the japan videos

September 23, 2015 at 12:31PM

0
Reply
avatar
Marvin Campos
Film-maker and Motion designer
161

Very cool, Marvin. Lot's of killer transitions (and great use of sound)!

September 23, 2015 at 1:32PM

5
Reply
avatar
Justin DeMers
Story & Heart Co-Founder
93

Hey. I took a look on your project! Loved It!

I saw a presentation of Joe Simon and Patrick from the still motion this year in Brasil!

I also just realised NFS is kind of a social network hahahahah cool

September 23, 2015 at 4:04PM

2
Reply
avatar
Marvin Campos
Film-maker and Motion designer
161

It would be great to have access to some of the timeline off a job like this so we could see how its was put together and go about figuring out to reverse engineer it.

September 22, 2015 at 5:24PM, Edited September 22, 5:24PM

0
Reply
avatar
Ronan Quinn
Videographer
1

Great suggestion, Ronan. While we do have plenty of downloadable resources in the Academy of Storytellers, we can definitely look to add one of Matty's timelines in the future.

September 23, 2015 at 1:34PM

2
Reply
avatar
Justin DeMers
Story & Heart Co-Founder
93

God of transitions: https://vimeo.com/108018156

September 22, 2015 at 7:03PM

3
Reply
Monisa Hinrichs
Editor
74

Legend! This is exactly the first thing I thought of! That is, quite easily, the best edited video I've ever seen. It's an all time favorite of mine.

Playground, Italy is equally brilliant. Love the work these guys are doing.

September 22, 2015 at 7:55PM

0
Reply
avatar
Ben Howling
Writer / Director
551

I was going to say the same! :)

September 22, 2015 at 9:22PM

0
Reply

I'm a sucker for awesome transitions! So much so that I made it the main topic of my thesis short film, wherein I 'hide' all the cuts, haha!

I make sure to use creative transitions in all the things I edit, and my most recent experimentation was with this certain project involving my friend's travel videos. I still have a long way to go though, hehe~ https://vimeo.com/138553232

September 23, 2015 at 1:13AM

2
Reply
avatar
Samantha Solidum
Video Editor
8

Good start - mastering of this art is well represented by Leonardo Dalessandri in his Watchtower of Turkey.

https://vimeo.com/108018156

September 23, 2015 at 2:04AM

0
Reply

Sony Vegas? Seriously!? I mean this is brilliant edit. shows how the NLE has nothing to do with the shots you are putting together and make a story.

September 23, 2015 at 3:39AM

1
Reply
Anand CJ
Editor/Cinematographer
74

Great observation Anand. Gear has nothing to do with what Matty is capable of, and it's really inspiring to see him focus so little on the technical and so much on gut reaction and feeling.

September 23, 2015 at 1:36PM

0
Reply
avatar
Justin DeMers
Story & Heart Co-Founder
93

Interesting to see the thought and the film is stunning, but I don't see a lot of that as 'transitioning', it's just good editing- following movement, eye line and matching action are all key to keep the flow and pace of your piece tight.
Some of the more flamboyant edits where the camera twists and takes you through to the next shot are clever and look great, and furthers us in the piece but also makes you more aware that your watching something constructed.
sometimes the more subtle you are the better the outcome.
not taking anything away from it thought, he's got a great eye for which shots work together as well as how to compose them in the first place.
messy timeline though ;)

September 23, 2015 at 6:22AM, Edited September 23, 6:22AM

1
Reply
avatar
Greg
Editor / Assistant Editor
116

I know it's a quite high budget film, but I personally love the use of transitions in Ty Evans' "We Are Blood." Great shooting overall, but the transitions that were present for the whole film were incredible. Here's the trailer if anyones interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVus4Ua1EFQ

September 24, 2015 at 6:36AM, Edited September 24, 6:36AM

0
Reply
avatar
Sebastian Kammonen
Filmmaker
278

Can we talk about the sound design in this video though? It adds a massive level of immersion to the transitions.

September 24, 2015 at 4:45PM, Edited September 24, 4:45PM

5
Reply
avatar
Colin Williams
Sound
81

If not already allergic to pointless, pathetic slow-motions, you become it by watching this.

September 25, 2015 at 1:44PM

0
Reply
namefull
154

Sound is mentioned as one of most, if not the most important factor in these transitions. Can we hear more about sound design. I would really like to find some links on how to sound design for my films, or Sound library packs people use?!

September 25, 2015 at 3:15PM

0
Reply
avatar
Dominic Panico
Director of Photography
78

and the sounds?! I think they should deserve some video only by themselves! ;)

October 18, 2015 at 7:59AM, Edited October 18, 8:01AM

0
Reply

Wow, Matty shot so many close-ups, blur-to-focus, wides, there was so much to choose from to edit. I don't envy the task of picking and choosing and he did a fantastic job. For my projects, I spend quite a bit of time picking the right music for a piece, many that have built-in transitions and are like a story with intro, escalation, climax, and celebration. Matty Brown - can't believe this was your first sports film. Bravo, maestro!

October 27, 2015 at 4:39PM

0
Reply
avatar
Suzie Park
Director & DP
147