Video transitions are an editing topic I get asked about a lot. There are a huge range of “fancy” options in most editing packages – and for those new to video production, they often look very tempting… But, they can also be one of the quickest ways to make your videos look cheap and unprofessional. Here’s what you NEED to know for professional results.
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When starting out editing you need to fight the urge to jump straight to the effects and transitions and start throwing them on everywhere. Yes, I know it’s hard..
The last thing you want to do is disrupt the flow of the video. The best transitions become part of the storytelling – and the viewer doesn’t even notice them.
So what SHOULD you do? Well, it’s pretty simple. Don’t use any of those built in video transitions.
To make your video flow most smoothly, the key is to time your edits well. If you do this right, a straight cut in between shots is more than enough. Look to make cuts between sentences or at the end of paragraphs/sections/topics, never mid word or sentence if possible. If you’re using music, you can also match cuts to the beat of the underlying track.
You can also use jump cuts, where you zoom in slightly on your footage to ‘break up’ the shot and make it more interesting for people watching. This helps keep people interested in your video, and can also be used to emphasise specific points you consider are important. Just like when you’re having a conversation with someone in person, you tend to lean in a bit when saying something important – zooming in on a face is the video production equivalent, bringing you closer to the audience while you deliver the key parts of your message.
To do a jump cut, you’ll need to be shooting your video in a resolution higher that what you want your output video to be. This means you’ve got enough res to zoom in a little and not lose any quality. If you want to output at 720p, then shoot at 1080 or 2k. If your output is at 1080p, then jump to 2k or 4k.
Now, there ARE a few specific situations where SOME transitions can be ok… The only transitions I think you should ever use are a cross dissolve (cross fade) or a dip to white or black. The exception to this rule is if you’re animating in titles or are getting creative for a section of your video you could look at various slides or wipes EXPLICITLY for that creative section.
So again, it’s all about timing, making your cuts at the right moments and using jump cuts to zoom in where appropriate. Keep that in mind, and forget about all those fancy transitions!
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