How can I make Jump Cuts look better?

Cutting out pieces from an interview or lecture is very difficult to do seamlessly. People are always moving and if you have to cut out something they said, their body has undoubtedly moved to a new position so the cut will look very jumpy. Here are some things you can try:

  1. Use a Crossfade: It could be very slight like a few frames or it might need to be longer up to 1/2 second or a whole second. Whatever works and lessens the jumpiness of the cut. It will still be noticeable but should be less jarring to the viewer.
  2. Use B-Roll footage: B-Roll is footage that you shoot of other things around the event. Usually footage of the audience or other activities. You can use these as a cut-away shot momentarily. The viewer will think you are cutting to show audience reaction when, in fact, you are covering an edit. This is done all the time. While cutting to the B-Roll you keep the audio from the A-Roll going so the person talking continues to talk over the B-Roll video. If you don’t have any B-Roll footage, next time remember to shoot some. It could be before the event starts or while you’re waiting for the next speaker. B-Roll is invaluable for covering edits and enhances the production value by giving the viewer a something new to look at just like we all turn our heads occasionally to see what else is going on.
  3. Use Stock Footage: If you don’t have any B-Roll, try and find some stock footage on the topic of the lecture. It could be as simple as a still image that you pan and zoom into. If they are talking about a hospital use a picture of that hospital. If they are talking about children get some footage of children interacting. You get the idea. Again this enhances the production value by giving the viewer something else to look at for a brief instant and covers the cut in the edit.
  4. Change the Angle: This technique involves zooming in slightly with Vegas Pan/Crop and repositioning the subject in the frame. It will look like you changed camera angles and can give the illusion of a two camera shoot when you only had one. You have to be careful not to zoom too much because the picture might get pixilated but changing the angle for a brief moment and then perhaps slowing zooming back out (using keyframes) will cover the cut better.
  5. Call Attention to the Cut: If you can’t hide the cut, it might be better to call attention to it. In other words, use a transition that’s obvious. I’ve seen a very quick white flash be used (called Flash in Vegas) or the Zoom transition. Something that lets the user know that the lecture was edited for time and they are now further along. You see this a lot in interviews. I’m not sure it would work in a lecture because you know that interviews are edited but you expect to see the whole lecture. Still it’s something to keep in mind when editing in the future.

Hopefully one of these 5 methods will help you make your edit more “watchable”. Good Luck!

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John Rofrano

About John Rofrano

John Rofrano is a Senior VASST Trainer and the author of Instant ACID, a book on Sony ACID Pro software, from CMP Books. He is also the developer of Ultimate S Pro, Vegas Pro Production Assistant, Mayhem, and other software plug-ins including the FASST Apps for Sony Vegas Pro NLE software. John has been a performing musician, singer, songwriter for over 40 years, and programmer and computer architect for the past 28 years. He is also a forum moderator at the Creative COW.