In The Style Of Jump Editing

You know how to edit.  You understand the basic concepts of video editing.  You know the importance of a sequence.  You’ve grasped screen direction.  You know the importance of tight shots.  You know the rules, which are more guidelines than rules.  So, you want to break some rules?

This is a style that you could use, no matter what type of storyteller you are.  I call this jump editing.

Jump cuts are intentional.  There are some rules to jump editing (or guidelines).

Are you ever given a story that just screams jump cuts?  I was given a few of these in my time in a newsroom.  The goal is to tell the story of a makeover while weaving a story of a woman that is ambushed.  I have fun with stories like these.  I do have a method to this madness I call jump editing.  I’m going to share my process.

I cut the story as tight as I can.  I fit as much story and visuals as I can in 1:45.  You see lots of edits, not too many, but enough to make the story fast and fun.

Our story for this post is She’s a Lady.

Our story begins with our host walking up to an unsuspecting woman.

In the second shot of the story [:02], I increase the scale to 130%.  I take the edit mid-motion.  Taking edits on motion helps disguise jump cuts a little, music videos do this all the time.

Why did I increase the scale?  So the next shot isn’t as brutal of a jump cut with this shot.  The change in scale creates two shots with a little bit of a difference in composition.

Her position in the frame helps as well.  Another idea I didn’t do.  Re-size the image and move it to adjust where the person is in the frame.

The next shot, the videographer pans from our makeover candidate to our show host.  The shot ends looking like this.

I break up the host talking about the ambush (she rambles on with information that doesn’t advance the story) when I make the next edit. It is this [from 08 to 10].

Again, I use the same trick as before.  I increase the scale of the shot. In this shot, I increase the scale to 120%.

It is enough of a compositional change that hides a jump cut (sort of). I make another edit breaking up our host talking.  I change the scale back to 100%.

You’ll see later in the piece jump cuts where our woman is in different spots in the store.  I’m ok with those kinds of jump cuts regardless of editing style.  When you are going from the interview or the one being interviewed and the composition is the exact same, I think a subtle change in composition really helps these edits not become too jarring.

When our subjects accept, the shot of her accepting is fast.  There are two pans back to back.  Another way I hid the jump cuts, I use the pan and make my cuts on the movement or right before the movement starts.  After the pans, we are introduced to an assistant in the makeover.

Then I edit a shot of everyone entering the first store. The camera is still panning when I take the edit, and everyone entering the store is moving [:09].  There is a lot of change in the composition as well, two things that ease the jump cut.

They are in the store, and then I go back to the interview in the middle of the mall.  Why?  I always like to show emotion on camera.  Emotion overrides all in editing, right?  That’s why I go back outside of the store because our candidate is excited about her makeover.

A music montage follows.  I’m using Tom Jones’ She a Lady for this story.  I love me some Tom Jones.  The song also fits the story very well. In the montage notice again a lot of movement.

The edit at [:15] I take just when she pulls her head up.

The next shot at [:16] I take the edit right as she turns her head.  The next shot at [:17], there isn’t much movement.  It’s also not a jump cut from the shot at [:16].  Back to a jump cut at [:18] and back to finding the movement to edit on.

After the music montage, I tell a little bit about her story.  We get to know our candidate.  Everybody has a story.  The prime objective is to just show the makeover; however, I wanted to tell a more of a story.  I am a storyteller, you know.

Several Jump cuts after this use as much movement as I can find in the shots the videographer brought back.

At [:39], the videographer does a swish zoom out.  I only use this once.  It’s too distracting for me to use a lot.   I liked using it here to break up all the jump cuts.

Transitional shot next at [:42].  Not everything has to be a jump cut.  A chance to bring the music up full as well.

I use the transitional to transition them into the next store.

Once I get into the store, I use more tight shots than I did before.  We are in a jewelry store, and jewelry is small, that just lends itself to tight shots.  How else are we going to see the pretty jewelry?

Another music montage at [:56].  Again I’m finding motion in the edits.

We move to another store at [1:03]. This time I simply use a pan down from the outside store sign to them entering for my transitional shot.

The sequence from [1:13] to [1:21] is my favorite part of the story.

Women LOVE trying on shoes.  I say it again.  Women LOVE to try on shoes.  Showing all these shoe shots is good.  Showing her moving her foot, in the mirror, her foot bouncing all shows happiness in her, and the viewer feels it.

This is followed by her asking her daughter if she likes mommies shoes, and then she says, “so fun!”  I don’t change the composition of the shots.  I don’t cut away. Why? Editing for emotion.

So what to take out of this post?

  • Learn the rules (guidelines) and break them (appropriately).
  • Use motion to help with your jump cuts
  • Re-size shots to change composition a little to help with jump cuts
  • Jump cuts are fun, but don’t go overboard.  Too many become distracting.  Find a balance.
  • Still, try to tell a story
  • Remember, emotion first. That overrides all else in editing.

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