9 Cuts Every Video Production Editor Should Know
by eguaogie-eghosa May 01, 2023 Views (354)
Virtually every one of us is now either a photographer or videographer as a result of the great advancements made in video production technology. A YouTube video or Instagram image upload is anticipated to receive a deluge of likes and comments. However, this is still a long way off from the quality of work that tickles the interest of more knowledgeable consumers and which leaves a long-lasting impact on online media. Trial-and-error success and masters of videography can be distinguished from each other by their editing skills, particularly their ability to make raw footage impressively crisp, coherent, and well-cut.

One of the most misconstrued aspects of filmmaking, at least to outsiders and beginners, is editing. Many people believe that editing consists solely of trimming and deleting uninteresting parts of clips. That might be true on the surface, but real editing art comes into play when we turn our assumptions into questions. Describe an unpleasant moment. How much should I cut that clip? The answers to these fundamental questions will ultimately change how people consume information. 

Whether you're editing using Premiere, Final Cut Pro X, Resolve, or Avid, editing is rife with crucial choices that could greatly enhance or undermine your story. These are narrative strategies, not technical specifications for a particular piece of software. They are basics that can help your project develop its identity and distinguish itself from the competition. 

What is a cut in movies and television?

Filmmakers can combine various camera shots using video cuts, also known as movie cuts or film cuts, which are transitions in movies and videos. The editor must select the appropriate kinds of cuts to support the film's central plot because these transitions are crucial to visual storytelling.
The expression "cutting" first appeared in the age of cinema film, when filmmakers and editors would spend their post-production time practically cutting and splicing strips of film to produce seamless changes between shots and scenes.

As against the early days in the film industry; video editors do not require utility knives any longer to accomplish video editing. They are now able to develop and improve their editing skills on the computer using potent tools like Adobe Premiere, Vegas Pro, Final Cut Pro X, and Descript, which can perform all the key cuts needed by professional editors. Almost every new film or television program you view features cuts that an editor digitally created on a computer.

Let's examine the fundamentals with these nine distinct editing cuts independent editors and production companies in Dubai should be familiar with, especially if you're a budding video editor trying to go from being an amateur to a professional: 

1. Standard or Regular Cut

The standard cut is where editing should begin. This is a cut between two separate clips that are placed next to one another.  It is a very fundamental cut in the art of editing; it basically refers to the clever and seamless transition between segments. The objective is to smoothly move between shots without showing abrupt movement on the clips. This is the most popular cut in video editing techniques.

Imagine it as a "shot, reaction shot." It only signals the conclusion of one action and the start of another. This could happen in the middle of the scene or between scenes. Although there isn't much additional meaning in this, it's important to understand when a cut like this may prove helpful or even necessary. If you're editing a corporate video or commercial, you'll probably just be delivering basic information in a fairly organized manner without much flair or fuss.  

As an editor, the primary question remains how you can stitch the images together. Like every other editor, I have to figure out how to pick the correct material, cut to the right shot at the right moment, be on the right character at the right time, make action scenes exciting and dynamic, arrive on time, and do other things of that nature. But those are no longer my top concerns. I guess it's similar to understanding how to play a musical instrument in that you stop paying as much attention to the fingering and studying the score once you've gotten over those challenges.

Although editing software skills can be taught (you can learn DaVinci Resolve here), the idea of knowing when to cut can't really be taught. It's somewhat of an intuitive feeling. And just like drawing, mastering it takes time. But if you were to read the book; “In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing” by Walter Murch, the famous editor of the movies ‘Apocalypse Now’ and ‘Jarhead’; Murch takes you through the principles of developing your editor's intuition over the book's 146 pages.

In the dining room sequence of Quentin Tarantino's 2012 film Django Unchained, when vicious slave master Calvin J. Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) loses his mind over trickery from Django (Jamie Foxx) and Dr. Schultz (Christopher Waltz), you can observe a variety of smash cuts. The scene has a sense of seamless continuity because of Tarantino's subtle edits to different angles.

2. J-Cut

A J-cut is a traditional method in which the audio from the subsequent clip is mixed with the visual from the preceding clip.  Consider having Clip A and Clip B in your collection of video clips. When a J-cut is used, the audio from Clip B will start playing before the end of Clip A's video. Split editing is the term used to describe this process. The new sound clip stands out to the left of the new video track above it, like the shape of the letter J. This cut is so named because of how it appears in a video editor.

The J-cut is a crucial edit to utilize when connecting sequences. Even while your edit is generally sound, there are instances when it may feel hurried. This might be an edit that connects a beach scene to the interior of a car where two people are conversing. The contrast between the quiet beach and the raucous automobile interior, even though it's a typical cut, can feel abrupt. By moving the audio behind clip 1 and having it gradually fade to full level until it gets to the beginning of clip 2, you may use a J-cut to lessen the impact of this edit. It's a J-Cut.

In addition, a J-cut (and L-cut) would be used to include audio from the preceding clip into a conversational scene to make the exchange seem natural. Only focusing on a character when they are talking could make the scene seem artificial.

The goal here is to use the audio to guide your viewers to the following shot. It has a straightforward-yet-obvious effect that, when you see and hear it in action, will make a huge difference.

A dramatic sequence starring Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) and Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet) from the 2004 movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind closes with noises of little children playing outside. This is an illustration of a J-cut in use.

3. The L-Cut

Since we covered everything in the J-Cut section, there isn't much to add regarding the L-cut. The reverse of a J-cut is an L-cut, and both are considered split edits. The soundtrack from the prior shot is carried over as the scene transitions to new images. Yes, the L-cut and J-Cut are identical. However, the L-cut drags the audio from the current clip into the following shot—creating an L shape.

Hence this technique uses audio to connect two scenes. An L cut allows the sound from the previous shot to continue playing even after the scene has switched to the following shot on the screen. Simply said, in an L-cut video, the audience watches a particular clip while continuing to hear the sound from the one before it at the start of the transitioning clip. When employed in conversational scenarios, it becomes very fascinating.
A terrified cry from Al Dillon (Carl Weathers) carries into the following cinematic clip of soldiers somewhere in the jungle in a well-known L-Cut from the action movie Predator (1987).

4. Jump Cuts.

Jump cuts get their name from the way they "jump" forward or backward in a movie's timeline. They show how time has passed. It gives the impression that time is passing more quickly to the audience. He made jump cuts widely used across the rest of the film industry.

The jump cut is a quick and engaging technique to hold your audience's attention. The method is straightforward: take a lengthy clip (long take), chop it up, then move your characters about in time. The jump cut is an unsettling sight, yet owing to comedy and YouTube vloggers, it has been ingrained in our culture as a legitimate method for accelerating a scene.

The jump cut is not a technique we frequently see used in television or movies because of how obtrusive it is. This is due to the fact that it alerts us to the edit. When it has been employed in a movie, it typically has a comic purpose.

But as director David F. Sandberg (Shazam) pointed out, it also serves the purpose of combining useful items in horror and thrillers.  

Breathless, the debut feature by Jean Luc Godard, had one of the jump cut's most well-known applications. By retaining only the most intriguing dialogue, what could have been a slump in the movie's momentum gets revived.

5. Montage Cuts.

A montage is a collection of scenes that are edited together and often tell a story without any spoken words. Directors and editors in film production companies can show viewers how several plots come together to form a cohesive whole by cutting back and forth between separate sequences. When a character goes through a transformation, whether it be literal or metaphorical, montage sequences frequently appear. It portrays character growth and time passing in the most natural way imaginable.

The montage is a cinematic classic that has been used in some of the best action movies, comedy, and even horror movies.

This cut is frequently used to show the protagonist getting ready for the big reveal in action flicks or movies attempting to capture the nostalgic feel of an action montage from the 1980s. Although Rocky wasn't the first movie to use a montage, it's difficult to deny the influence the boxing movie had on the trend, particularly with the outstanding theme of "Gonna Fly Now."

Since Rocky, the workout sequence has appeared in a wide range of media, including stop-motion animation and anime.

A montage can be made in a variety of ways. The montage is a sequence as opposed to the jump cut, which is dependent on context and scenario. Video of your characters attempting to perform a task should be accompanied by a catchy soundtrack.

You may create an effective montage by chopping it up and keeping it at the proper length. Make sure to use a cross dissolve to transition clips over long stretches of time.

The 1995 comedy Clueless features a fantastic makeover montage where Cher (Alicia Silverstone) assists her buddy Tai (Brittany Murphy) in changing her appearance. The song "Supermodel" by Jill Sobule serves as an appropriate underscoring as the camera pans between various sequences of the high school students trying on clothing and coloring Tai's hair.

6. Cutting on Action.

Cutting on the action is when you smoothly transition from one shot to a different viewpoint while maintaining the action of the first shot.

Cutting on action is arguably the most important and popular cut. What then is it? Just that: a character's action, such as moving, turning their head, kicking, jumping, running, etc., is cut off in the middle of it. It's basically a smooth approach to moving the viewer's focus from one shot to another without them noticing the transition. Only if you have a sufficient number of wide, close, and medium images is this cut feasible. You'll have more material to work with when editing as a result.

Action is kinetic by definition. A window will break if you hurl a rock against it, and the stone will fall through the other side. But observing that from a distance is passive; with film, you can make these moments active. Action in a movie should not only be seen but also felt.

The word "action" does not, however, include something action-oriented, such as a stone hurled through the window. It may be as easy as having a detective open a briefcase while it is being filmed in a medium shot, then cutting to a close-up once it is halfway open. The case opening, however, continues in the same manner, retaining the motion's kinetic energy.

Check out The Natural (1984)'s scene where Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) retires a hitter known as "The Whammer" at a county fair for a multi-clip demonstration of cutting on action. A flawless cutting masterclass from director Barry Levinson and Editor Stu Linder, the same single pitch features six different cuts that present seven film snippets.

7. Cross-Cutting.

In one or two sentences: The technique called crossing cutting makes it appear as though two sequences are happening simultaneously in two different places.

Cross-cutting is an excellent approach to telling two stories at once, despite the fact that it seems more difficult than it is. You will cut between these two tales because they are typically being played out concurrently. Simple examples of the method include showing one character doing something, cutting to another figure doing something else in a different place, and then cutting back to the original character. It might be challenging to get the timing and narrative "play clock" just right, but it's a great technique for telling two stories at once. Building tension and establishing a sense of expanse are the goals of cross-cutting.

Inception, a film by Christopher Nolan, is among the most illustrative instances of cross-cutting. The events of each "dreamworld" are sensed within the other as the characters are transported across a number of them at the end of the movie. We switch repeatedly between timelines frequently in the last act.

Cross-cutting only functions with rigorous planning because of its nature. A fast piece of advice would be to combine both edits first, then edit the assembled sequences together if you're thinking about writing a plot that involves cross-cutting.

8. Cutaways.

Cutaways are helpful for covering up video editing mistakes. 

Cutaways are shots introduced into a scene that help the spectator comprehend the characters' surroundings but mostly operate as filler. This can be accomplished by using an on-location B-roll. Wide, close-up, or medium shots can all be used as cutaways. Just be careful not to cut away during a lengthy line or moment.

It is a quick transition from a main scene to a minor, unrelated secondary scene. Cutaways are common in comedies because they can show other details that enhance the humor of the main scene.

Cutaways perform exactly what they are supposed to do, therefore not much information needs to be explained about them. When there is a problem with the footage but we still need the audio, I frequently find that cutaways can be used as a temporary fix. The camera may shake suddenly because of a tripod being kicked, or the performer may move out of focus too much. If so, conceal the error with a cutaway. Naturally, as stated, this is only possible if the content has already been recorded.

The 1997 spy comedy Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, directed by Jay Roach and starring Mike Myers, contains a humorous cutaway scene. Austin Powers (Myers) had to maneuver an electric cart through a cramped tunnel in a suspenseful scene. He tries to make a 3-point turn but is unsuccessful. The action then shifts to Dr. Evil (also Myers), who is just about to carry out the last few steps of his evil scheme, which only Austin Powers can thwart. The scene then returns to Austin Powers, who is now immobile in his motorized cart and unable to make a U-turn. The cutaway turns the cart joke, which is amusing enough on its own, into a comedy classic.

9. Match Cut 9.

A match cut is an editing that moves from one scene to the next by utilizing aspects from the previous shot. The next scene is typically completely distinct from the first scene.

The match cut, which is one of the most visually appealing cuts, enables you to carry the viewer's gaze into the following frame without them realizing it. The basic concept is that you switch as your subject moves or performs an action and finish the motion in a different location or with a different character in the following shot. This produces a flowing motion that keeps the eyes of your audience moving in the direction you desire.
Because it draws attention to the edit, the match cut is rarely used; instead, it is used whenever you want the edit to be undetectable. However, the match cut has actually resulted in some of the most iconic cuts in film when used and when used correctly. The bone-to-space station match cut from 2001: A Space Odyssey is maybe the most famous instance.

When You Should Each Type of Cut.

Choosing which style of cut to utilize for what kind of material can be challenging because there are so many different film editing techniques. Here are some suggestions to help you with editing.

1. To quicken events without dialogue. Silence is perhaps the most effective method to convey the passage of time. Jump cuts across the same scene, location, or even a clock's face can indicate right away that minutes, hours, or days have passed and the plot has picked up speed.
2. For tricky transitions, use match cuts. Find a shared element between the scenes to serve as the anchor for a match cut when cutting between two scenes that don't seem to have much in common. This could be a matching object, a comparable shape or color, or even a sound and a response to the same sound.
3. When a screenplay specifies pre-lap dialogue, use a J-cut. When a character's name appears in a script with (PRE-LAP) next to it, it indicates that their audio track should begin before the visual shifts to the following shot. To put it another way, the author is requesting a J-cut.
4. For phone conversations, use cross-cutting. Use cross-cutting to illustrate both of the characters' points of view when a screenplay switches between two people talking on the phone to one another. By doing so, you can concentrate on the main responses of each character.

4 Essential Guidelines for Directors and Editors When Cutting Videos

Carefully timed video cuts are essential during post-production, nevertheless, they can still be abused. Make your video cuts as exact and impactful as you can by following these four recommendations.

1. Occasionally you just have to let things happen naturally. Cutting is a terrific tool for a director, and certain directors (looking at you, Christopher Nolan) prefer short, succinct sequences that jump cut to something fresh. But in movies, lengthy scenes also serve a purpose. See how much emotional weight and simmering tension can be conveyed in a single shot that lasts a whole minute or longer by watching a Kubrick, Coppola, or Scorsese movie. Although these mentioned film directors use jump cuts to change between scenes, they, however, make use of lengthy, lavish takes that reveal the plots like a live theater performance to tell their stories.
2. Make sure that sound breaks up your action cuts. Action scenes with numerous viewpoints of the same action scene are captivating to watch. Although editing of this kind is quite excellent, they, however, only work if the video sound regularly complements the images. Ensure that you have all the sound effects you need while you edit your raw footage in order to make your action cuts appealing and credible. Make sure the transition from a character jumping to them landing on the ground is combined with a pleasant "thud."
3. To naturally display thematic overlap, use match cuts. Audiences are able to see thematic throughlines when using a match cut and parallel editing techniques. Directors can depict thematic connections between several actors acting out different behaviors in various settings by cutting back and forth between sequences. Warning: This only works if there is a strong thematic throughline. You don't need to force it if you're working with a couple of scenes that don't genuinely share a theme.
4. Storytelling is the first step. Moviegoers don't go to movies to watch editing tutorials. They desire to see stories on television. Be sure that the adjustments you make to your video production improve and not weaken the narrative. You should avoid overcuts that only serves to show off your editing skills. The future? Perhaps the plot will actually require some post-production prowess. Save your fireworks for a later project if it doesn't, though.


Although video editing can be a profitable and enjoyable process, it can also be difficult, especially for beginners in local video production. You may enhance your video editing abilities and produce videos that look and feel professional by using these 9 essential editing cuts. Always take your time, maintain organization, and don't be hesitant to try out new methods and approaches.

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