Jump cuts, done in the wrong way they can look obnoxious and amateur making your filmography feel flat. However, they are one of the traditional film editing techniques that budding filmmakers can utilize; do them correctly and you’ve got a way to streamline film, create dramatic effects and sequences or cut out useless footage easily. We look at the good, the bad and the ugly of jump cuts and how to use them the right way for awesome films.
What Are Jump Cuts?
Essentially jump cuts are an editing technique that cut two shots together transitioning from one aspect to another. It seems fairly simple but this could involve scenes or subjects, for example using a cool jump cut editing trick to increase suspense in a horror film or simply to speed up time across a relationship in a romance movie.
Where Can You Use Them?
You can use jump shots anywhere as they are surprisingly diverse, from TV interviews and music videos to full-length movies or an Instagram short!
Issues To Avoid With Jump Cuts
Continuity – One of the first film editing tips given to young filmmakers is to consider their continuity in a film and this is where jump cuts can make it tricky. When using more than one subject or the complex way a shot is set up, it can be easy to make a mistake in continuity that isn’t immediately obvious (except to the viewer) which can lead to glaring mistakes. Overcome this by ensuring that jump cuts are used to keep things simple or to focus on showing time changes instead of changes to a scene.
Confusing Message – As a jump cut can be quite quick for the viewer, particularly going backwards and forwards it is important that you don’t make the scene too busy otherwise key elements can be missed. Focus on a single character, their reactions and subtle changes that are done over time rather than a lot of things happening at once which can confuse the message you’re trying to get across.
Things to Consider:
Change Shot – When using a jump cut in filmmaking, it makes changes of the background scene stand out which is not good if you’re trying to remove poor or lengthy footage that includes scene changes or differences part way through. For example, during an interview, jump cutting 3 minutes out if the subject moves can be glaringly obvious and create a jarring end result however by cutting to different shots such as a close-up to medium or wide it can show intentional transitioning making it look more professional.
Time Transitions – Another Jump cut editing trick is using them to show time passing or alternatively create a faster sequence, this is where they really come into their own.
Comedic Timing – Use a jump cut to inject some comedy into your film by jumping to close-ups of faces to see reactions or as a slapstick travelling method for traditional humour.
Jump cuts can be an excellent tool for your next film, just ensure that it benefits your storytelling and is used in the right way otherwise it may not have the impact you are looking for.
Recommended Steps for a Learning Exercise:
- Describe and explain what a jump cut is as well as its applications
- Have students attempt to create short 5 minute films of an interview with a subject including changing shots
- Ask them to cut it down to 2 minutes and make it more interesting by using jump cuts.