3 Must Know Cuts When Film Editing



When editing a film it’s imperative that your cuts are made in a way that are organic and natural to your film. If you keep that as your guide then you will give the film you’re editing a greater chance of coming out of post production a success.


Here we will discuss 3 Must Know Cuts When Film Editing, however, there are various, may types of cuts that can be made when editing your film. Here we wanted to focus on only three: the Jump Cut, J-Cut and L-Cut.


Without further ado:

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This is a cut that is done widely by movie editors and generally with the same specific intent, to speed things up. Jumps cuts are a single sequence shot, that is, it was filmed as a long take. Then in production to editor splices/cuts in between the shots to speed up the movement. In the splicing/cutting of the shots the footage “jumps”. Thus, you have a jump cut.


For example, if you shot a 2 minute sequence of two subjects kissing and the sequence intensifies as the kissing prolongs, you can easily speed the sequence up. You can play the first 7 seconds and then splice between 7 and 25 seconds, play 5 seconds and then splice it again until you reach the most intensifying moment in the kiss.


There’s endless possibilities as to how you can use this cut to create your desired effect. It can be used for comedic effect, for action sequences, anything! Use it to your liking.


The J-Cut may be mind boggling to some, but it’s explanation is really simple. The J-Cut is starting the audio to your next seen while still showing the image(s) of your current scene. As an editor you’re audibly introducing your viewer to what’s coming up.


It’s an excellent effect to enhance your cutting transition.


The L-Cut serves the same purpose as the J-cut, except in reverse.


Whereas in the J-Cut you heard the airplane descending before you actually cut to the airplane descending, in the L-cut you will see the airplane descending before you cut to it.


For example, sticking to your subject watching television. If your subject is watching television, in a L-Cut, you would cut to the video of the airplane descending, before you cut to the audio of the airplane descending. That is, when you first cut to the airplane descending the audio that is heard is that of your subject watching television. After the cut is when you would introduce the audio of the airplane descending, not before or during the cut.


The most common way the J-Cut is used is in conversations by simply cutting away to Subject B while Subject A is still speaking. It creates a feel of realism in the conversation.



Walter Murch is a recognizable, highly praised and Oscar award winning editor and sound designer. His work spans decades as he’s worked on award winning films from The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, The Godfahter (II and III) and The English Patient.


His highly praised and highly reviewed book, In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing (2nd Edition), is a recommended must read for filmmakers and editors.



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