Jump Cuts

How to use jump cuts to make your videos awesome

When are jump cuts good and when are they bad?

The video above, made with my daughter, fully embraces jump cuts (yes, we’re jumping!) The camera angle is fixed and the goal was to shorten the sequence of us moving up the stairs. I wanted to use this video on Instagram – only 15 seconds – which meant the original footage of the two of us jumping up the entire flight of stairs was far too long.

But, jump cuts can be abrupt. They can be jarring. They can be obnoxious.

Wondering just exactly what a jump cut is?

As the video below demonstrates, shot by the Vimeo Video School, they are not always a good thing.

“A jump cut is a cut in film editing in which two sequential shots of the same subject are taken from camera positions that vary only slightly.” (Thank you Wikipedia!)

You create jump cuts when you cut between two sections of footage shot from the same exact camera angle – for example in a live interview with a talking head. And when they come across as too abrupt and jarring they call attention to your video making process and draw your viewer away from the story you’re telling which is very, (very) bad.

You can easily avoid a (bad) jump cut. The easiest method is to cut between close-ups, medium, and wide shots. Or cut back and forth between your interview subject and B-roll footage – or shoot your subject from two angles and cut back and forth between the two viewpoints.

But what if you love jump cuts?

I may be dating myself, but who can forget that jump cut from the start of 2001 A Space Oddyssey when the ape throws a bone in the air and the scene jumps to a shot of a (bone shaped) space station orbiting the earth? Or the rivetting jump cuts from Run Lola Run? (OK, I’ll admit it, I really liked watching actress Franka Potente run down the streets of Berlin.)

When should you use jump cuts?

Jump cuts are great for showing the passing of time, or to speed up a sequence or to add comedy.

A great example is this ‘Coasting’ video, below, produced for Brahma by videographer Allen Martinez, which uses jump cuts to great effect. (also shot on stairs)

Note the rider’s-eye view sequence (that starts 10 seconds in) once the subject on the scooter descends a long flight of stairs in one of Rio’s favelas.

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed creating it for you.

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