March 3, 2016

Don't Know a Cutaway from a Cross-Cut? This Video Breaks Down Edit-Speak

The Shining Danny
As editor, you are a god. These cuts are your disciples. 

"A lot of these cuts are so common and feel so natural that you don't even think about it," says the narrator of the latest video essay from Rocket Jump Film School, which outlines some basic tools in the editor's arsenal. 

Indeed, the editor's job is to be invisibleor, rather, subconscious. She wants to get inside your head and make you feel something without realizing why. Of all the below-the-line talent that goes into the making of a film, the editor is arguably the most important and under-appreciated. 

You've seen all of the cuts in this video before, but unless you're an editor, you may not have recognized just how crucial cuts and transitions are to the life of the narrative.

Glossary of Cuts

  • Cutting on action (cutting while there is movement on-screen)
  • Cutaway (cutting to an insert shot and then back)
  • Cross-cutting (back and forth between locations, ex: phone call)
  • Jump cuts (disjointed edits in the same shot or action)
  • Match cut (cut from one shot to a similar shot by either matching the action or composition)

Glossary of Transitions

  • Fade in/out (to/from black)
  • Dissolve (blend shots)
  • Smash cut (abrupt transition)
  • Iris (old-fashioned; circle that opens and closes in camera)
  • Wipes (screen wipes from one side to the other)
  • Invisible cuts (impression of a single take)
  • L-cut (audio transition)
  • J-cut (audio of the next scene starts before you get to it)

Your Comment

10 Comments

The movie "Breathless" by Jean-Luc Godard:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ov4mQJIHhc

March 4, 2016 at 2:30AM, Edited March 4, 2:30AM

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Hey man I was just editing my short film UNEVENLY EVEN just now. I used a J and L cut but did not even know they were called that! But thanks for sharing! I also learned other types of cuts and transition that'll I use! Thanks!

March 4, 2016 at 3:29AM

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Thanks for this link, so succintly explained for such complex editing structures that are hard to understand without visual aid.

March 4, 2016 at 4:48AM

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Tino
Editor
1

Thanks, nice group of examples.

I'd love to know what people thought of the cutting we used at the beginning of our film Compulsive ( http://www.sketchin.co.uk/projects/compulsive/ ) trying to show the trapped nature of the character, and then his release and uncertainty in the world.

March 4, 2016 at 7:48AM

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Keif Gwinn
Producer/Director/Editor
8

Spoiler alert :) I loved the sequence when he leaves and a lot of what follows, including your match cut of the two dudes, all of this was effectively disorienting and intriguing; I want to follow him. I also loved the very first shot of the fumbling at the lock - the other shots of the opening sequence were a bit odd for me - turning the light on and off was a huh? moment, and the envelope sequence which I imagine must have been the inciting incident, was a bit too calm for me - perhaps because from the angle you showed him from - above and off to the side, we couldn't see the concern in his eyes - well, we couldn't see his eyes. But for something done in 48 hours, BRAVO! And thanks for showing us your city!

March 11, 2016 at 10:39AM

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Suzie Park
Director & DP
47

"L-cut = audio transition"? Not really...

March 5, 2016 at 3:31AM

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Jarle Leirpoll
Film Maker, Editor and Director of Photography
82

I didn't know it had a name but naming it the "L-cut" didn't make much sense to me. What is it actually called?

March 15, 2016 at 4:13PM

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Cross-cut match dissolves. Cutting on action (the water on the lens). Amazing technique.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBG7P-K-r1Y&feature=youtu.be&t=58s

March 5, 2016 at 7:10PM, Edited March 5, 7:10PM

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Mike Wilson
Editor / Filmmaker
8

More great crosscutting / match cutting https://vimeo.com/39900383

March 5, 2016 at 8:18PM

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Mike Wilson
Editor / Filmmaker
8

This information was extremely useful. I only knew what a few of these were until now, I've used almost all of them but never knew what they were called. --Thanks for this!

March 8, 2016 at 1:56AM

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Jeff Dodge
Cinematographer / Editor
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