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Jump Cuts: Take Your Filmmaking to Another Level

by Clarke Scott | Last Updated: August 31, 2021

The jump cut is a filmmaking technique that involves cutting from one shot to another, without any editing in between. This creates an abrupt change in time or place within the scene. The first use of this technique was by French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard who used it to show different perspectives on the same event. Jump cuts can be effective for showing quick changes in time and space such as someone walking through a door and appearing moments later on the other side of the room. However, they can also make your film confusing if not done properly!

Use them sparingly. Jump cuts can be hard to understand, and you don’t want to confuse the audience! Use a series of short jump cuts instead of one long cut if possible. Try not to overlap shots – it just looks messy most of the time. If you do overlap shots, make sure there’s a clear point of separation between them so the audience knows where each shot ends and begins.

In this article, we will go over everything you need to know that will help you successfully use jump cuts in your filmmaking.

What is a Jump Cut

A jump cut is a film editing technique in which a single continuous sequence of a subject is divided into two portions, with part of the footage being removed to create the impression of leaping ahead in time. The footage of the sequence should be spliced together in a way that maintains the same camera positions for all of the pieces. It’s a form of time manipulation using a single take, and splitting the duration to propel the audience forward.

This cut, which makes a sudden transition from one shot to the next, differs from the more smooth dissolve that was popularized by Breathless in its early years. For these reasons, jump cuts are considered a breach of basic continuity editing, which aims to provide the feeling of continuous time and space in the tale-world by minimizing editing, however they may still be employed for creative effect. The continual cutting away from each other is what draws attention to the film’s artificiality. In a single sequence, you may see more than one jump cut.

Jump cuts are avoided by employing the “30-degree rule,” which is a continuity editing guideline. The 30-degree rule stipulates that the camera position should vary by at least 30 degrees from its previous position for consecutive shots to appear continuous. Some institutions may also request a change in framing (e.g., from a medium shot to a close up) If the camera moves less than 30 degrees between two captures, the difference will not be significant enough for the audience to perceive the edit as a jump in the position of the subject that focuses attention on itself.

Temporal jump cuts, which are also known as cutaways or transition shots, are used in many films to create a sense of flow and rhythm. They can be generated by removing a portion of one continuously filmed sequence (spatial jump cuts) or by combining two non-continuously recorded sequences together (temporal jump cuts).1

How a Jump Cut Sets Film Grammar

In the directors’ commentary of his first feature film, Monsters, Gareth Edwards talk about how jump cuts can set the grammar of a film moving forward for the entire film.

If you look at it again, that shot is actually made up of two different shots. The car coming out from the building and then another one there.” – Gareth Edwards.

Filmmakers use this technique to jump forward in time or use a cut to change the subject of conversation. You can also make up for editing mistakes this way as well.

To put it simply, if you need two shots that are similar but not identical (for instance: an establishing shot and closer detail), this is how you do it.” – Gareth Edwards

History of Jump Cuts

What Is the History of Jump Cuts? French illusionist and film director Georges Méliès accidentally discovered jump cuts when his camera jammed during the shooting of his short film, The Vanishing Lady (1896).

But they were used extensively used in Jean-Luc Godard’s film Breathless which pushed the technique into prominence.

Using jump cut - next level filmmaker
Using jump cut - next level filmmaker
Using jump cut - next level filmmaker

While jump cutting was a prevalent practice during the formative years of cinema and editing, it fell out of favor for many decades because filmmakers believed that audiences would have difficulty accepting discontinuities in space and time.

The term “jump cut” was coined in an article by film critic Tom Luddy in October 1964, after a screening of Godard’s A bout de souffle (1960). The publication of his article brought the technique to the attention of American filmmakers.

Opinions vary on the use of jump cuts in films. Some critics argue that because they are disruptive and noticeable, filmmakers should avoid them altogether. Others believe that judiciously employed jump cuts can be used to great effect as a device to convey subjectivity or show the tension between characters on screen (as if the viewer were jumping from one perspective to another).

Jump Cuts, Transitions, and Youtube

Jump cuts are used in a lot of videos on youtube, especially reaction videos. Vlog videos often have jump cuts to show the person moving through time without slowly done the pace of the video. Some Youtubers both big and small use jump cuts as well when they want to create tension between characters or convey subjectivity and more about that here:

Youtubers evolved the jump cut into cool transitions. Here are two cool examples of where modern day filmmakers are taking the art of the jump cut and transitions.

How Jump Cuts Can Be Used To Set The Mood

It’s also important to note that if you’re going for an aesthetic look with your editing (like film noir) then you’ll probably be using a lot of these kinds of edits!

Jump cuts can also be used to create tension and convey the mood of a scene.

It’s worth noting that if you’re going for an aesthetically pleasing look with your editing, (such as film noir) this is where jump cuts are most commonly found!

The opening sequence of City of God (2003), a Brazilian film about the drug trade, is rapid and dynamic, much like the illicit business world itself. The start, in which the camera shoots from a variety of angles with no establishing shots or context to contextualize things, establishes the tone and mood for the rest of the film. The jump cuts and lack of smooth transitions add to the tension of this sequence.

A lot of suspense films use jump cuts in creating anxiety or fear during certain scenes. By cutting back and forth between two different shots it creates tension through action, which raises your heart rate giving you anxious feelings. This is often done by cutting back and forth on someone walking upstairs or looking around when they think something dangerous might come after them. This technique makes those specific moments more intense while drawing away from all other elements happening in the scene.

Jump Cut Editing

Jump cut editing can be used in the right context to convey a subjective experience. Jump cuts are often employed by vloggers and bloggers who want their videos to appear more dynamic, or when they want to show something quickly moving across the screen.

When crafting jump-cut edits for your video, remember that each edit should have a specific purpose. If you’re just cutting back and forth between two similar shots because it looks cool, then viewers will probably find this choice tiresome rather than exciting. However, if you do use them purposefully, such as showing someone walking upstairs while making quick cuts of what’s going on around them so we get anxious–then these kinds of edits really work!

A jump cut is a transition between two shots where the camera doesn’t move and there are no dissolves or wipes. The action may appear to skip forward as when an actor’s movement is too quick for the movie projector, causing images of him in different positions on adjacent frames instead of at discreet intervals; this effect becomes increasingly more apparent as film speed increases in silent films or if objects are quickly removed from the scene.

Jump cuts became extremely common in modern filmmaking because they have many creative uses which can add tension or convey subjectivity to a project. However, some critics argue that since jump cuts can be distracting and noticeable, filmmakers should avoid them altogether.

It’s important not to overuse jump cuts. In fact, if you have too many, it can be distracting for the viewer instead of exciting. However, they are a great tool to add tension or convey subjectivity in your video!

Using a Jump Cut in Documentaries

Jump cuts can also be used to create a stuttering effect, which is often seen in documentaries or reality tv. It gives more of an authentic feel and makes the video seem as though it was captured by a camera rather than being edited before its release. This can be used to show the “real” side of something.

Jump cuts are also frequently used in documentaries, adding a sense of speed or energy that is not seen when cutting away from these types of transitions. Again, the goal is to add energy or tension without having to rely on other editing techniques.

Jump cuts are a great tool when used in certain contexts and for a specific purpose! If you use them too often however they can be distracting instead of exciting. When done correctly though jump cut edits can enhance your video’s quality while adding some extra excitement as well.

In Conclusion

These are just some examples that jump cuts can be used for, but there’s no limit to how you use these edits! It all comes down to what your specific project calls for. If you’re having trouble deciding on whether or not using them would work best for your project I suggest trying different things with the edit and seeing if they help convey whatever message you’re going after. There’s really nothing holding you back from giving this editing technique a try so why don’t you give it a shot on your next project?

Jump cuts are often used in suspense films, music videos and documentaries to increase tension. They can also be effective when showing certain subjective experiences or conveying an authentic feel. However some critics argue that since jump cuts can be distracting they should only be used for specific purposes rather than being overused. Jump cut editing is not bound by any rules so you may use them as you please!

In order to successfully craft jump cuts, remember what purpose each edit serves and if it’s actually necessary given the context of the video at hand. If you’re having trouble deciding whether or not using them would work best with your project I suggest experimenting with different options until something sticks! There really isn’t anything that stops you from trying this editing technique.

The target audience for this blog post is filmmakers who want to add some excitement or energy into their project, bloggers, and vloggers looking for a way to capture viewers’ attention and indie directors in general since jump cuts are commonly used within these types of productions. It’s also worth noting that the content here may not be suitable for people with epilepsy (please avoid flashing text).

Footnotes

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jump_cut

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