Ever wonder why every TED Talk speaker always seems so perfectly fluent… how you’d never hear them “ummm” or stumble on a word? No, they’re not superhuman.. the truth is TED employ a team of editors that aren’t just responsible for jumping between angles, but use a number of hidden techniques that create the illusion that you’re watching an uninterrupted speech that’s slippery smooth.
This method can be applied to literally anything you’re editing, ESPECIALLY single-cam shoots.
Keep reading below to learn how to cut up an interview, a speech or a scene however you’d like, all while making the presenter (and yourself) look golden.
1/3) “Never EVER Jump Cut. But If You’ve Gotta – Your Audio is a Good Place to Start”
Rule number one about jump cutting: don’t jump cut. Jump cuts are usually a CARDINAL SIN in professional editing. Just try and think when was the last film you’ve seen that used jump cuts within a scene? (Student films don’t count, shut up.) But if you play your cards right and know how to pick your moments, there’s really SO much you can get away with.
Never ever underestimate the power of your sound editing. From my experience if there’s anything jarring with your edit it’s most probably since the audio is interrupted or it peaks abruptly. There are many nouns for the act of looking – a glance, a glimpse, a peep – but there’s no noun for the act of listening. In general, us viewers don’t think primarily about sound. Use this to your advantage!!
This technique really should be considered the ABCs of editing, and if you haven’t tried it yet then you really should be ashamed. Basically, you tuck in the audio channels between the cuts on your video channels (otherwise known as “leading in sound”, but you’d agree with me “tucking in” has a nicer ring to it, much more cozy.)
In a nutshell, cut up your clip so that all you have is the single beat you want. Place your next clip right after. Make sure each clip has its audio on a different track. Overlap the heads and tails of your audio clips. Keyframe the volume as necessary so that while one audio track fades out – the next one fades in. Applaud yourself.
Looking at the video alone on your final result might seem wrong. But in the general flow of things, most viewers would not even notice the cut… or they’re too busy listening to the next bit that they’ve even forgotten a cut took place. *For extra efficiency, try leading in a whole word (or two words) from the following clip. Also, the longer the fade – the smoother the transition will sound.
2/3) “Love The Rule of Three”
Now we at Topjaw like to incorporate jump cuts as a style on its own. However 99 percent of the time they’re there to enable us to cut out most of the nonsense Jesse is saying (hi Jesse!) and to allow us to swim from beat to beat and include ONLY the good bits.
But keep in mind that having one single jump cut in your entire edit would most commonly look like an error. Howeverrrrrrr, use it three times or more and people will be convinced that you’re just plainly committing to a style (three would be the magic number). Some of you might hate the pace, or jump cutting at all, but by doing so you’re allowing yourself to cut out any stutters and/or select only the bits you love – which in other words means empowering yourself as a curating editor.
3/3) “The Pulse Cut – Fake Your Own Action Cut” (Adobe Premiere)
In case you’ve never heard the term before, an Action Cut refers to when an editor cuts from one shot to another mid-movement or mid-action – for example: say Josh Brolin is about to slam his fist on a glass table. So you use your master shot (Shot A) for the wind-up, then cut to a close up of his fist just milliseconds before it hits the glass (Shot B). Action cuts are a great technique when you’re forced to insert a lot of cuts within a short time span, but for it to work – you HAVE to ensure that both objects (from shot A to B) are positioned in similar positions in your frame. “Mad Max: Fury Road” is one great example on how to master this technique.
But what happens when your objects are in completely different positions? Or if you don’t have a ‘Shot B’ to cut to? The technique I’m about to show you requires a lot of patience and good intuition and only a tiny bit of technical jiggery. But it’s totally worth it since, for me, this is a get-out-of-jail-free card whenever a find a cut that I know I can’t get away with.
What do you do? You fake the action cut using scaling and positioning changes. Remember, the whole premise of the action cut is to distract your attention onto one portion of the frame, then take advantage of that to switch to something new without you noticing. Come forth the Pulse Cut – creating a pulsating “zoom” effect that begins on Shot A and ends on Shot B.
On Shot A – create 2 keyframes. One for the in point (Scale %100), then position the 2nd keyframe at the end of the clip (Scale %110). Don’t go overboard with the scaling. Subtlety is key here. On Shot B – create 2 keyframes. One in the beginning of the clip and the other wherever. Your aim is to match the size of your object (whether a prop, or a presenter) between both shots, so scale accordingly. While the keyframes on Shot A are creating a “zoom in” effect, the keyframes on Shot B need be creating a “zoom out’ effect.
If you’ve done this correctly – the screen will “pulsate”, and you’ve just faked an action cut. Remember, you’re trying to sell this as an organic camera movement so this might take a little time getting the keyframes and movement feeling natural.
Using this method you can also fake a swish pan, and cut between shots mid-swish!
All in all, just like any filmmaking technique, every decision needs to be justified and you need to ensure that your film feels consistent both in terms of content AND style. Never (ever!) jump cut once in a film. However, if you find yourself forced to do it, just try one of these steps above to bail you out. Just don’t tell anyone 🙂