Editing Techniques & Principles

Setting Up Your Shots: Great Camera Moves Every Filmmaker Should Know

Establishing the scene

Description: Wide shot showing setting.

Purposes: Introduce location for scene, provide sense of 3D space where action occurs, introduce characters.

Changing the scene/segment Description: Visual or audio cue that a new scene or segment has begun. Purposes: Move story along, add variety to story, indicate passage of time or change in location.

Editing - Cuts

Match Cut

Description: Combining two shots of differing angle and composition so that the action continues from one to the other in the same time and place.

Purposes: Show seamless progression of action, focus on detail of action, provide a different view enhancing three- dimentionality, add energy and increase pacing.

Jump Cut

Description: Combining two shots that are similar so that the subject jumps from one part of the screen to another.

Purposes: Attraction attention, speed up time.

Cutaway Description: Shows object, close up detail or person observing action. Subject is not seen in shots edited before or after cutaway. Purposes: Cover jump cuts, provide reaction of others to main action, focus attention on object or prop.

Editing Transitions & Effects

Fade from and to Black Description: Fade from black: image gradually appears from a black screen. Fade to black: image gradually disappears to a black screen. Purposes: Begin and end a video, transition between segments or scenes, signify major change in time or location.

Dip to Black Description: Quick fade to black and then back to video. Purposes: Go to or from a commercial break, quick transition between segments or scenes, transition between footage and full screen graphics.


Description: A transition between shots where one image is gradually mixed with another until the second image is full screen.

Purposes: Enhance emotions, soften changes between shots, accentuate rhythm of pacing, enhance artistry of action, smooth jump cuts.

Wipe Description: A transition between shots that uses movement across the screen. Traditional wipes include changing the image with a move from right or left, up or down, or diagonally. Effects wipes include spins, flips, and animated moves. Purposes: Obvious transition between scenes, segments or graphics; add energy and action, increase pacing.

Super Impose Description: Mixing two images together. Purposes: Show two views of subject at the same time, suggest that main subject is thinking about the other.

Freeze Description: A single frame of video that is frozen on the screen. Purposes: End action, accentuate moment or character, background for graphics, lengthen short shot.

Editing - Graphics & Titles

Lower Third Title

Description: Text appearing in the bottom third of the screen.

Purposes: Identify name and title of interview subject, provide caption for image.

Full Screen Graphic

Description: Combination of text, background and/or artwork that fills the screen.

Purposes: Titles for the beginning of a video or a segment, key points or summations, charts and graphs, transition between segments or to or from commercials

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