Advanced Video Camera and Editing

Types of Edits

The following list comes from Jeremy Vineyard's Setting Up Your Shots, Great camera moves every filmmaker should know

  • Continuity Edits or Matching Action - one shot follows the other in a logical, or sequential pattern, creating the illusion of one continuous actin. The most common way to show matching action is to cut on the motion itself so the audience is paying more attention to the action rather than to the cut. Another way it to cut on the look when the character looks over at something off-screen and then cuts to a shot of what they're looking at. See Look At below.
  • Jump Cuts - these cuts are made between shots where the angle and distance don't change significantly. The audience notices what appears to be a slight shift in the shots, and this draws attention to the edit. Jump cuts can potentially distract audiences, but they can also be used artistically to convey the passage of time or to enhance action.
  • Off-Screen/On-Screen Action - this edit starts with an empty frame and the subject entering the shot. When the subject exits, leaving an empty frame, the editor is free to cut to anything from there.
  • Cutaways and Cross-Cutting - to cut away from the principle action can show what's happening elsewhere simultaneously. Often, cutaway shots can be used to hide continuity errors, but they are also used to focus our attention on interesting detail. Cross-cutting shows two separate scenes happening in different locations at the same time. Often, cross-cutting generates suspense and adds tension to a scene.
  • Cut Ins or Inserts - when editors cut away from the principle action to show detail within the scene. For example, a character driving a car starts to accelerate. The insert shot would show their foot on the accelerator or their hand shifting into another gear.
  • Montage - the juxtaposition of images and sounds that express a certain mood, atmosphere or emotional state. One could say that the montage is impressionistic, creating an emotional impact rather than trying to follow any kind of logical or sequential pattern.
  • Impact Cuts and Impact Moves - these edit decisions are made to show contrasts from one image to another. The Impact Cut is used to generate excitement, suspense or confusion. Think of horror films that cut quickly to the monster. The Impact Move happens when the camera changes the angle to reveal significant detail. Also in the horror genre, think of the camera panning quickly from the protagonist to the monster.
  • Thematic Cut - this type of cut happens between two images that have similar thematic properties.
  • Subliminal Cut - a cut to a shot that appears very quickly (only a couple frames long). This cut shows the audience only a glimpse of the shot, which can activate a subconscious reaction.
  • Freeze Frame - the effect 'freezes' a portion of the moving image to end the sequence on an enigmatic or emotional note.
  • Multi-Take - a single action gets repeated many times, which adds dramatic impact to the scene. For example, the multi-take is used when something important or decisive takes place, or when the action happens so quickly (as in an explosion) that it gets repeated several times seen from various angles.
  • Cut Zoom In - cutting closer and closer to the subject.
  • Cut Zoom In - cutting to successive angles that move us further away from the subject.
  • Split Screen - two separate shots appear on screen at the same time. Used most commonly when characters are having a phone conversation.
  • Superimpose - inserting images on top of another. Used most commonly to show what a character is thinking about, but also describes text that appears on screen.
  • Walk, Reveal - a transition that begins on a shot that shows people or objects passing in front of the camera (typically close enough to fill the frame and block the view). The editor then cuts to a new shot when another person or object moves away and revealing the new shot. Also known as a 'natural wipe.'
  • Collage - several small images are added to the screen to enhance the thematic context.
  • Impact Flash - at the cut, the editor inserts a 'flash' to white and then reveals the new image. Used commonly during fight scenes when a character gets punched.

Here's a video from the Vimeo Blog showing some great examples of natural transitions that will help you move from one scene to the next. Video courtesy of Framelines TV