9 Important Cuts Each Video Editor Must Know


On this video tutorial, try a number of the fundamental cuts each editor ought to know earlier than tackling their subsequent video undertaking.

Prime picture by way of fedota1.

To outsiders and newbies, modifying is probably one of the misunderstood parts of filmmaking. Many assume that modifying is nothing greater than eradicating the unhealthy and shortening clips. On a floor degree, which may be true, however once we flip these assumptions into questions, we get nearer to the artwork of modifying. What’s a foul second? How a lot do I shorten that clip by? These core questions, and finally, the solutions, will alter how the media is digested. 

Whether or not you’re modifying on Premiere, Closing Reduce Professional X, Resolve, or Avid, modifying is plagued by essential choices that can profit your story in vital methods or turn out to be an enormous detriment. These are storytelling methods, not technical particulars for particular software program. They’re fundamentals that can assist your undertaking discover its voice and make it stand out from the group. Let’s have a look at the must-know fundamentals each editor must know.

Commonplace Reduce

In a sentence or two: The elemental begin to modifying is the usual minimize. That is the minimize between two totally different clips subsequent to one another.  

Diagram made with parts from Polina Strelchenko.

Consider it as “shot, response shot.” It’s merely the top of 1 motion and the start of one other. This may very well be through the scene or from scene to scene. There’s not a lot added which means right here, however it’s important to know when a minimize like this may be helpful — and even obligatory. Should you’re reducing a business or a company video, you’ll most definitely simply be conveying fundamental info in a really structured approach with none flare or fuss.  

Whereas the observe of modifying software program will be taught (you’ll be able to study DaVinci Resolve here), the notion of when to chop considerably can’t. To an extent, it’s an intuitive feeling. And like drawing, it takes time to grasp. Nonetheless, I like to recommend a guide by famed editor Walter Murch titled Within the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Movie Modifying. All through its 146 pages, Murch, the editor of Apocalypse Now and Jarhead, runs by means of the basics on the sensation of when to chop, and how one can assist nurture your editor’s instinct. 

Properly, on a sure degree there’s all the time the fundamental query of “How do you place the pictures collectively?” Like each editor, I’ve to search out methods to decide on the correct materials, and to chop to the correct shot on the proper time, and be on the correct character on the proper second, and make motion scenes dynamic and attention-grabbing, and are available in on schedule, and all that form of stuff. However these should not major points for me any extra. I suppose it’s a little like studying the way to play a musical instrument: When you get previous the problems of fingering and studying the way to learn a rating, you don’t take into consideration them so consciously.

Walter Murch on the issues present in modifying. From a Peachpit.com interview.


In a sentence or two: A J-cut could have audio from the continuing video clip enter the subsequent shot earlier than the primary shot has completed.

Diagram made with parts from Polina Strelchenko.

The J-cut is an absolute must-use edit for tying scenes collectively. Generally, you could discover that your edit feels abrupt, although it’s virtually sound. This may very well be an edit that joins a beachscape to a automotive’s inside the place two persons are having a dialog. Although a typical minimize is acceptable, the juxtaposition from the calm seashore to the noisy automotive inside can really feel sharp. Utilizing a J-cut, you could possibly make this edit much less intense by transferring the audio beneath clip 1 and have it slowly fade to full quantity till it reaches the beginning of clip 2. It is a J-Reduce.

Moreover, a J-cut (& L-cut) can be utilized in a conversational scene to tie in audio from the continuing clip to make the dialog seem pure. If we solely minimize to the character when they’re talking, the scene might really feel mechanical.

As famous within the diagram, the J-cut takes its identify as a result of the audio from clip 2 shifts beneath clip 1 earlier than clip 1 has completed and creates an J form.
The concept right here is to guide your viewers into the subsequent shot with the audio. It’s a simple-yet-obvious impact that can make a world of distinction once you see and listen to it in motion.


In a sentence or two: An L-cut has audio from the primary shot bleed into the second shot.

Diagram made with parts from Polina Strelchenko.

There’s not rather a lot to say concerning the L-cut, and that’s as a result of I’ve defined every thing beneath the J-Reduce part. Sure, the L-cut is rather like the J-Reduce. However as a substitute of the audio from clip 2 getting into clip 1, the L-cut drags the present clip’s audio into the subsequent shot—and creates an L form.

Exterior of conversational scenes, although this impact is the other of the J-cut, it may well have a a lot totally different impression on how folks hear and see your scenes play out. Utilizing the instance from the J-Reduce, listening to the audio from the automotive first invitations us into the subsequent scene. If we had been to make use of an L-cut, and have audio from clip 1, the seashore, observe us to clip 2, the automotive. It will promote a way of melancholy or nostalgia about that location. The character continues to be mentally on the seashore, whereas bodily within the automotive.

For extra on J & L cuts, try our tutorial under.   

The three cuts above lay the muse for almost all of edits, and outdoors of some transitions, there’s not loads of different preparations to your media. Nonetheless, what can change is how your edits are perceived, and this shall be dictated by what you edit subsequent to the energetic shot.

Let’s have a look at a variety of methods utilized by the professionals.

Bounce Reduce

In a sentence or two: A bounce minimize is the place a single shot is minimize forward into itself, making the topic seem sporadically by means of the body. Often used to indicate a shift in time.

The bounce minimize gives a quick and entertaining method to hold your viewers hooked. The approach is straightforward: take a protracted clip (lengthy take) and minimize it up, letting your characters bounce round in time. It’s a jarring sight, however due to comedies and YouTube vloggers, the bounce minimize has been engrained into our collective unconscious as a viable method to velocity up a scene.

Jump Cut

As a result of intrusive nature of the bounce minimize, it’s not a way we frequently see employed in tv or movie,. That’s as a result of it makes us conscious of the edit. When it has been utilized in movie, it often serves for comedic impact.

Nonetheless, as famous by filmmaker David F. Sandberg (Shazam), it additionally has function for attempting collectively sensible merchandise in horror and motion motion pictures.  


In a sentence or two: The montage is a sequence clips that show a change in time, particular person, or location.

The montage has appeared in a number of the biggest motion movies, comedies, and even horror motion pictures in a cinematic staple. The montage reveals the passage of time and captures character improvement within the smoothest approach attainable.

Utilized in motion movies, or in motion pictures attempting to evoke the nostalgic resemblance of an 80s motion montage, this minimize is often utilized in exhibiting the protagonist coaching for the subsequent massive factor. Whereas Rocky wasn’t the primary movie to make use of a montage, it’s laborious to dispute the impression the boxing movie had with the recognition of montages, particularly with the celebrity theme of “Gonna Fly Now.”

Ever since Rocky, the coaching montage has been utilized in numerous mediums from cease movement to anime.

You possibly can create a montage in a number of alternative ways. Whereas the bounce minimize will depend on location and scene, the montage is a sequence. Slap a catchy music over footage of your characters trying to perform a aim. Chop it up, hold it on the proper size, and also you’ve bought a profitable montage. For lengthy passages of time, remember to transition clips with a cross dissolve

Should you’re filming a coaching montage, remember to incorporate the next for a extra elaborate montage sequence:

  • A number of costumes
  • Varied instances of the day
  • Varied climate patterns

Slicing on Motion

In a sentence or two: Slicing on the motion is the place you’d minimize from one shot to a different angle that fluidly matches the primary shot’s motion

Maybe essentially the most vital and well-known minimize is “reducing on motion.” So what’s it? It’s simply that: reducing in the midst of a personality performing some motion, reminiscent of transferring, turning their head, kicking, leaping, working, and so on. It’s only a seamless method to take the viewers’s eyes from one shot to a different with out realizing there was ever a minimize. This minimize is just attainable you probably have enough shot protection, together with extensive, shut, and medium pictures. This provides you with extra to work with once you’re modifying.

Cutting on Action
Video from The Stockyards.

Within the instance above, the minimize on motion follows the baseball gamers swing. Because the minimize matches the motion from the prior shot, it holds a way of kinetic power.

Watch a minimum of sixty seconds of the primary struggle from the Captain America: Winter Soldier sequence under. Slicing on motion helps promote a way of power with the edits.

Motion, by nature, is kinetic. You throw a rock at a window, the window will smash, and the stone will fall by means of the opposite facet. Nonetheless, watching that as a bystander is passive, and filmmaking means that you can make these moments energetic. In filmmaking, motion shouldn’t solely be seen; it additionally must be felt.

Nonetheless, the time period motion doesn’t outline one thing action-orientated like a brick thrown by means of the window. It may very well be so simple as a detective opening a briefcase filmed at a medium shot, and upon the case being midway open, we minimize right into a close-up. However the motion of the case opening stays constant all through, sustaining the kinetic power of the motion.


In a sentence or two: Crossing reducing is a type of modifying that establishes two sequences at separate areas to be occurring on the similar time.

Whereas it appears tougher than it’s, cross-cutting is an ideal method to inform two tales concurrently. Often, these two narratives are enjoying out concurrently, so you’ll minimize between them each. The approach is so simple as exhibiting one character doing one thing, then reducing to a different character in one other location doing one thing else, then reducing again to the primary character. Perfecting the timing and narrative “play clock” will be tough, however it’s a superb method to inform two tales without delay. The purpose of cross-cutting is to construct suspense and create a way of scope — a world large enough price watching.

Probably the most notable examples of cross-cutting is Christopher Nolan’s Inception. Towards the top of the movie, the characters are displaced by means of a number of layers of “dreamworlds,” and every world’s occasions are felt inside each other. All through the ultimate act, we’re repeatedly reducing backwards and forwards between timelines.

As a result of nature of cross-cutting, it solely works with meticulous planning. Should you’re eager about making a story with cross-cutting concerned, a fast tip can be to assemble each edits first, then edit the compiled sequences collectively. 


In a sentence or two: A cutaway is the suspension of a repeatedly filmed sequence by reducing away to a shot of one thing else. 

Hide Footage Errors with Cutaways
Cutaways are helpful for overlaying points in your footage. Picture by BoxBoy.

Serving extra as filler than the rest, cutaways are pictures inserted right into a scene that helps the viewer perceive the characters’ setting. You are able to do this by pulling from B-roll on location. Cutaways will be wides, close-ups, or medium pictures. Simply be sure to don’t cutaway in the midst of a considerable line or second.

Video from sebra.

Within the clip above, there’s, sadly, digicam shake mid sequence. Nonetheless, if we minimize to an insert, we are able to masks the (fictional) operator error.

Video from sebra and Gorodenkoff.

There’s not a lot info that must be defined about cutaways; they do precisely as titled. I typically discover that cutaways can function a band-aid when there’s a difficulty with the footage, however we nonetheless want the audio. Maybe somebody kicks the tripod, and the digicam abruptly shakes, or the expertise strikes too far out of focus. In that case, use a cutaway to masks the error. After all, as famous, you’ll be able to solely do that if the fabric has already been recorded.

Match Reduce

In a sentence or two: A match minimize is an edit that makes use of parts from the earlier shot to transition the subsequent scene. The continuing scene is often wholly totally different from the primary scene.

Maybe essentially the most visually arresting minimize, the match minimize allows you to transport the viewer’s eyes into the subsequent shot earlier than they realized that it’s occurred. The concept is straightforward: you narrow as your character strikes or does one thing and finishes the motion in one other place or with one other character within the subsequent shot. This creates a fluid movement that retains your viewers’s eyes transferring in whichever course you need.

The match minimize isn’t used typically because it calls consideration to the edit; it turns into noticeable once you need the edit to stay invisible. Nonetheless, when used, and when used appropriately, the match minimize has ended up producing a number of the most memorable cuts in cinema. Arguably essentially the most notable instance is in 2001: A Area Odyssey with the bone to house station match minimize.

Whereas it’s primarily used with visuals, a match minimize may also be carried out with sound. A fast instance can be a villain in hiding about to fireside his gun in the direction of the protagonist, and simply as he pulls the set off, we minimize to the dong of a church bell in a unique location. Because the dong of the bell and the gun’s bang share related loud audible properties, the minimize will match seamlessly.

For extra on modifying ideas and tips, try a few of our previous protection right here:


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