How to Cut Videos that Look Smooth and Flow Better
Have you noticed that the transitions in some videos seem to be silky smooth, and may even be practically invisible? Or maybe you’ve realized that some transitions seem to flow more naturally while others appear more jarring?
All of these things are tied into how you cut your videos. It is a question of technique, style, and timing – all of which need to come together.
Types of Cuts for Smooth Videos
To cut videos that look smooth, there are several types of cuts that you should make use of:
- Cut on action is a type of cut that requires the same movement (i.e. action) to be present in both clips. By cutting from a clip that shows a particular movement and to a clip that shows that movement continue, you can hide the presence of the cut as viewers will be focused on the movement.
The timing of a cut on action should revolve around the continuation of the movement.
- L and J cuts can produce smooth audio by cutting the audio track and video tracks separately. To use the L cut you would cut to the next video clip but still let the audio from the first clip play for a few seconds before cutting to it. Similarly with the J cut you would cut to the audio of the next clip but play the first clips video for a few seconds more before cutting to the next clip.
With L and J cuts you can cut dialogues and conversations so that they flow more smoothly. The timing can vary slightly for the video, but the audio should be cut at a natural break.
- Match cuts require both clips to have a subject that has a similar visual appearance and position. That similarity will maintain the viewers’ focus, despite the fact that the scene and subject has changed.
It is not as invisible as a cut on action, but it does establish a connection between the subjects in both clips which can be used to convey additional visual meaning. It isn’t easy to pull off however, and watching examples of match cuts can help.
Masking Jump Cuts
A jump cut is a type of cut that is frequently used – especially in single-camera videos. It is a cut that transitions to a point further along in the same clip, and causes the subject’s position to ‘jump’ while the rest of the scene remains the same.
Overall the jump cut is one of the most jarring types of cuts, and can interrupt the flow of the video if you aren’t careful. That is why it is best to mask it by using:
- Cutaways to other clips that add context.
- Reframing that requires you zoom or crop the second part of the clip to alter its composition enough that the cut isn’t as jarring.
It may be best to avoid jump cuts entirely, but for single-camera videos that may not be an option.
If you apply the cuts described above when you’re video editing, your video should definitely look smoother and flow better. It doesn’t require any special tools, and for example you could use Movavi Video Editor if you want to try out any type of cuts.
At the end of the day the timing will probably be the toughest part to get right, and in most cases is entirely subjective. The more you cut videos however, the better your feel for the timing will become – and the easier it will get to transition videos smoothly from clip to clip.