Rail yard background, from the Library of Congress

Connections

A Hypertext Resource for Literature

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Cuts
[Page 3]

This information comes (verbatim) from this page by David Kaufman of George Mason University.

It is easy to assume that most of the work of film-making goes on on the set or on location: set design, lighting, choreography and lighting. But this is only part of the work, and not necessarily the most complicated part, especially not for a director. Much of what you see on the screen is produced by editing. The basic unit of editing is the cut. A cut is (oddly enough) the splicing together of two shots. Between scenes or larger narrative units, called sequences, the cut can mark a rapid transition between one time and space and another, but different kinds of cuts will have different effects, depending. There are many kinds of cuts. Here are just a few:

  • jump cuts - where there is no match between the two spliced shots.

  • match cuts - the exact opposite of jump cuts.

  • montage cuts - a rapid succession of cuts splicing different shots together to make a particular meaning or create feeling such as vertigo, fear, etc.

  • compilation shots - series of shots spliced together to give a quick impression of a place or a quick explanation of a situation, or a character's impression of an event.

  • cutaways - shots that take the spectator away from the main action or scene--frequently used as a transition before cutting into the next sequence or scene.

  • cross-cuts - used to alternate between two sequences or scenes that are occurring at the same time but in different spaces.
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