editing blog

6 cuts every editor must know – Different types of cuts in editing

Film editing is both a creative and a technical part of post-production that works with raw footage by selecting shots and compiling them into a sequence to create a finished motion picture. Each cut in a film holds the power to engage the audience by creating a rhythm for its narrative. It is a combination of technical ability and creative techniques that bind shots taken from hours of raw footage to establish a structure, mood, and tone for the film.

The editing process or rather good editing has often been the major contributor towards the success of many a memorable films in the past. If you are an aspiring editor, it is important to know the fundamental techniques that will give your film an edge. Let’s take a look at different kinds of cuts every editor must know:


1. Standard Cut
As the name suggests, a standard cut is simply cutting from one clip to another. This type of cut follows a linear flow and is used to bring two different shots together without any transitions. Although this is a commonly used cut, it doesn’t invoke any emotion in the scene and is best used when you want to keep things basic.


2. Jump Cut
This is a cut that creates a jump forward in time. The jump cut is made abruptly, usually between two clips of similar framing or composition. Although a simple technique, it is a fast and entertaining way to keep the attention of the viewer. An example of jump-cut used to showcase a nervous searching scene was spotted in the 2009 sci-fi ‘Moon’, where the protagonist was seen looking for a secret room on a moon base where he searches for illegal objects in a friend’s house.


3. J-Cut
In this type of cut, the audio for the next shot or scene precedes the visual. The audio is typically heard towards the end of the previous clip as the video transitions to the next clip. This technique builds up for the next clip in advance and immerses the viewer into it. In the movie, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, where Matthew McConaughey’s character’s humming was heard even before the scene begins is a perfect example of a seamless J-cut transition.


4. L-Cut
An L-Cut is a reversed J-Cut. In this type of cut, the audio from the previous clip carries over to the next one. Both of the techniques, J-Cut and L-Cut help create a flow in the sequence, providing the audiences with special information. The sound of the boy counting in the movie ‘The Tree of Life’ extending into the next shot of him walking with Brad Pitt is one example of an L-Cut transition.


5. Match Cut
A match cut is a cut from one shot or another where the compositional elements of both the shots are matched. This is a standard technique in filmmaking to provide the scenes a reality-effect. Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ exhibits a notable example of the match cut, where a connection between the bone and an orbiting satellite is drawn in the scene where an ape discovers the use of bones as a tool.


6. Invisible Cut
The correct usage of invisible cuts is a showcase of the editor’s creativity and skills. This cut is used to keep the shot looking like a single continuous take. Two shots of the similar frame are joined in together in a way to completely hide the transition from the audience. An example of the invisible cut could be a character walking towards the camera, completely covering it, the cut would be introduced with a shot of the character walking away from the back.


Using these cuts correctly and experimenting to establish your style will help your movie stand out in the crowd. However, a good editor not only needs to be technically well versed but also needs to possess strong storytelling skills. At WWI Virtual Academy, our Certificate Program in Editing focuses on both aspects of editing to prepare you for your next, or even first project as an editor.