The Best Transitions in Video Editing

23rd December 2018

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Whether you are creating a feature film, a TV show or a vlog for YouTube, transitions can either make or break your final video. Incorporating well timed and perfectly fitting transitions can transform your footage from looking amateur and dull, to an engaging and professional final piece. Whilst good transitions can truly enhance your project, overusing them or choosing the wrong transitions for your footage can look tacky and unprofessional. It is also important to remember that transitions are there to improve your content, but they cannot save it. You should never rely on fancy transitions and other editing techniques to tell your video story for you. They should instead be used to merge shots and scenes in a way that really compliments your story. Here are our best transitions in video editing and how they can be used to effectively enhance your footage:


The Dissolve

This type of transition is probably the most commonly used in video editing, and for good reason. The dissolve is when one clip fades or dissolves into the next clip for a seamless transition between the two. As the first clip begins to fade, it will get lighter and lighter as the second clip begins to fade in and become more and more prominent. In most videos this process happens so quickly and subtly that the viewer doesn’t even notice the transition between clips. The viewer not being aware of the transition is the whole point of the dissolve, as the aim is to seamlessly blend two scenes together. This is a great way of portraying the passing of time, location or subject without having to say it outright.


The Fade To / Fade From Black

This transition is very similar to the dissolve, in the sense that when you fade up from black or fade into black it can represent a change in location, time or subject matter. Fades to and from black are very common in movie trailers and adverts, as they are slightly more dramatic than the dissolve. Fades to and from black can create suspense, and when used very quickly they can be effective for picking up the pace and showing action.


The Wipe

Contrasting the dissolve, the wipe draws attention to itself and is designed to stand out instead of blend in. The wipe often uses shapes such as circles, known as the Iris Wipe, where a circle gets smaller and smaller to transition to black or another clip. Working the wipes can be tricky, and most video editing software’s are packed full of free wipe transitions that look cheesy and amateur, so be careful to select wipes that are tasteful. The Star Wars films are full of wipe transitions that have been used effectively, and a great example of a particle wipe is almost any Disney film where Tinkerbell waves her wand to reveal fairy dust that wipes into opening credits. The key to use wipe transitions successfully is to make sure they have a purpose in your footage, and not just there because they look fancy.


The Light Flash

The light flash transition is becoming increasingly popular in recent years, and it is common for resembling a camera flash. The light flash transition will quickly dissolve into white for just a fraction of a second to give the effect of a photo being taken. It is used more as a novelty than in a professional sense, but it is popular in wedding videos as an easy transition between video footage and still photography. The light flash transition is a really cool effect, but it should be used in moderation, as overdoing it can look cheap and cheesy.


The Cutaway

The cutaway transition is used a lot for cutting out boring shots in films. You can edit away from the action to something else, and then back to the action again. This is common for scenes like characters driving to their destination, where you might cutaway to one of the characters thoughts and then go back to the driving. This technique can also be used to add action to a sequence by improving the pace of the footage.


The L Cut

The L cut is also known as a split edit, and it is a technique that dates back to the days of analog film. Back then, the audio track on a celluloid film strip would run along the side, and for an L cut transition the editor would cut the picture frames out of the strip, leaving an L shape with the audio track intact. A different scene or camera angle was then added to the spot where the old picture was, cutting the audio from the old footage onto new footage. Nowadays, there is no need to physically cut anything, but the transition is still used very often in film and other video.


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