You see match cuts all the time; movies, television shows, and commercials contain match cuts.
Take this Heineken commercial for example
At [:13], you see match cut of the gentlemen in pink juggling the beer in glasses.
At [:18] is a match cut of the gentlemen throwing beer bottles from the stage to the men on the couch.
At [:30] is a match cut of a man opening bottles of beer.
Match cuts are an edit that connects two shots together via the action within the two shots. Editors who are meticulous with match action understand how edits work.
The idea is to edit to shots together using the action within the shot. Having movement in both shots, editing on that movement hides the edit.
In the commercial you see
• The action continues in two uniquely composed shots • It appears as if the shots are done with two different cameras rolling at the same time • It’s an easy way to create a very clean looking sequence • The match cut edit hides that there is, in fact, an edit
Editing two shots together on a movement will often make the edit invisible. Good edits are invisible edits. Good edits are edits your audience doesn’t notice.
Our story for this post is Michaela.
There a lot of match action in this story. I mean a ton. I mean…well you get the point.
The beginning of the story is a sequence of Michaela and her mom in the kitchen. Within that sequence I use match cut from the shot of Michaela tight at [:11]
to the wide shot of her and her mom in the kitchen.
Match cuts make edits very smooth. Match cuts are not always made with a person, you can use an item.
In this next example, you see Michaela lifting the weights and then begin to put them down. She doesn’t complete the action of the weights going to the ground in this shot.
In the next shot, you see the weights land on the ground completing the action.
When the barbell leaves the frame, your eye naturally dropdown. Your eye expects to see the barbell hit the floor. The match cut is very natural.
Here is another match cut beginning with the barbell on the ground, and then Michaela picks it up.
I make an edit while the barbell is moving up and out of frame. The next shot, you don’t see the barbell right away. You do see Michaela coming up and then the barbell. So the action completes in the second shot of the sequence.
It looks like what you would see if you were in the room with her. This is one of the tools to help take your audience to your story. When Michaela drops the barbell, I again have a match action shot at [:38].
This is a simple three-shot sequence with match cuts connecting each shot together.
Here is another three-shot sequence with each edit connected with match action [:42].
Michaela comes up with a machine, takes the weight, and does a squat.
Starting at [1:22], my match cuts go into overdrive. Can you tell me how much I like to match cutting?
I try to use Michaela’s movement of starting and stopping points for my edits. Here’s another one at [1:44]
Michaela’s entire family is at the weight-lifting competition. From [1:41] to [2:03] is all match action except for one cutaway of Michaela’s mom.
I had a lot of fun putting this story together. I had even more for honing my match cut editing abilities.
You are going to need to watch the piece several times and read the blog entry a few times before this entry really sinks in. Please stick with this entry. It will make your editing better right away.
This is a story about setting up a fireworks display. I used this opportunity to think about eye trace with as many edits as possible and do it with a limited amount of time. I only had about 2 hours to edit this story.
At [:02] into the story, I have a tight shot.
He picks this item up. Before it leaves the frame 100%, I cut to another shot. Your eyes are watching the object go up, and so your eyes are in the top middle of the frame. Next, I looked for a shot that;
Matched the action
Has some action to look at in the middle of the screen to maintain eye trace
I found one.
I’m keeping your eyes in the middle of the frame.
This gentleman walks to screen left. I looked for a shot that has an action screen left.
This is the shot I found. I wanted something more screen left, but I didn’t have it. So, this was the best shot that I could find.
Not only am I looking for what is in the shot, but I’m also looking at the action in the shot and how it maintains eye trace with the next edit. It’s fascinating to think about.
The next time I use eye trace in this piece it at [:07] from the interview,
to the b-roll shot.
I’m looking at the next shot and what’s going on. I’m thinking ahead. In fact, during this piece, I was often thinking at least 3 edits ahead. For this edit, I’m thinking about the end of the shot. When it starts isn’t nearly as important as when it ends. I’m thinking about eye trace to the next shot. I wait until the guy walks far enough screen left just as he bends down. I make a cut,
to this shot.
Notice this gentleman is screen right, maintaining eye trace, and he moves subtly to our right. His movement helps the edit.
Not every edit has eye trace, and I’m highlighting the good ones for this post.
I’m thinking about eye trace as much as I can and making as many edits as I can work. The gentlemen walk screen right at [:13]
Just when he gets to the point I want him at, I make a cut.
To the interview, that’s set up screen right.
Again, with this edit, I’m thinking about what happens at the end of the edit more than what happens at the beginning of the edit.
I hope you see how thinking about eye trace can add a little something extra in ordinary everyday stories.
There are several other instances of eye trace in this story. Watch where there is some movement in the story. A person walking or something coming into the screen. Notice all the edits I’m paying attention to eye trace.
So here’s a test for you. The next time your editing a story, think about the end of the edit more than the beginning of the edit. Is something moving? Can you use eye trace to make your edit better?
There is nothing special about this story. It’s merely an opportunity to practice the craft of video editing. This story is perfect for refining video editing skills. The story was supposed to be a vo/sot. The photographer gave it to me. I wrote and produced a script, then sold the story to a producer. Luckily she was light on this day and allowed the vo/sot to become a package.
The story starts on a tight shot of a mail truck back door opening. I know the rules. Start wide, go medium, and then go tight. I understand why I’m breaking the rules (there really aren’t any rules, just guidelines). I don’t think I need a wide shot of a post office. I’m pretty sure the viewer gets it.
Meticulous with match-action I am. (Yoda laugh). Watch the shot at [:12].
The next shot [:13] is a match-cut. Do I need to be this meticulous? Nope. I am practicing my craft. The next time I need to have a clean, tight match-cut, I’ll have practiced it with splendid execution.
“I am loading up…(natural sound of her picking up crate)…my mail…(natural sound of her putting the crate in a truck)…for today.”
Why do I do this? The main reason is that she stumbles over her words in the sentence. By using the natural sound, I simply create a sentence that’s tighter and takes less time.
Two pieces of natural sound transition her onto the mail route. I had lots of videos, including a sequence of Lynn getting into her truck and driving away. I couldn’t figure out an efficient way to use it without it just being an extra sequence. I didn’t really need it. Just because I have the sequence doesn’t mean I’m going to force it.
“Delivering the mail seems like a routine job.” “It’s not the easiest job, huh?”
This is a beautiful little moment, and I write into it. It’s the little things that make the story fun. You’ll notice from here to the end of the story, the natural sound is simple. It’s easy to have a series of natural sound pops of Lynn putting mail into mailboxes. I avoid doing that for a few reasons, mainly because that’s not how your eyes would see if you were following here. If you’re just practicing your craft, pretend your eyes are a camera. How would your eyes see the event if you were actually there?
An Old Trick
At [:28] I use a shot of Lynn closing and locking the mail truck door with natural sound, then she says,
“Safety is really a big thing, too, with the post office.”
I then use the natural sound of her locking the mail truck door.
One-shot, two pieces of natural sound and a SOT. This is an old trick. Using the beginning sound and the ending sound of a shot and squeezing a SOT in-between those natural sounds. It’s quick and usually very easy to accomplish. Just practicing the craft.
At [:32], did you hear that dog bark? Subtle, wasn’t it. I’m foreshadowing. You’re gonna hear as much dog barking as I can put in without it overpowering the story. If you were with her, that’s what you would hear, right?
At [:44] is an interview, on paper it reads,
“Just one afternoon doing a normal delivery as I was walking, I noticed that the screen door was not fully shut and the dog just instantly came out and bit me.”
Now, look at the video and natural sound I use to break up the bite and make the story flow better. Natural sound can also be compared to a period. That sentence has a lot of information. By breaking up the sentence with the natural sound, it’s like breaking up a sentence into multiple sentences.
Also, at the end of that SOT at [:56], I milk the dog barking twice! Again that simple idea of squeezing as much natural sound as possible from one shot.
At [1:03] I have a spokeswoman’s SOT, I cover the last portion of her SOT because I’m butting two SOTS together.
At [1:18], I bring Lynn back on camera.
The viewer knows who she is because she’s the primary person in the story. It never hurts to bring people back on camera, especially if they say something meaningful or emotional.
Bring people back on camera if they say something emotional or essential.
“Yeah, it is a carrier’s worst fear to get bit by a dog.”
I’d say that’s both vital information and something with emotion.
At [1:29], I bring her back on camera again for the same reason.
“A lot of customers always say my dog’s not gonna bite. And every carrier has heard that thousands of times, the dog will bite.”
The last shot is the walking off into the sunset shot. I bring the story to a close with a simple shot of her walking away, still doing her job. I’m covering with a closing piece of sound, and I throw in one more dog barking. No need to show the dog here. If she were walking along, she wouldn’t necessarily see a dog barking; she would just hear it.
Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to like The Edit Foundry on Facebook for daily tips and discussion topics.