Natural Transitions for Storytelling

In film making, there are many ways to move from one scene to the next. This movement is called a transition, and it is the glue that holds a story together. While there is nothing inherently wrong with adding transitions while you edit, there are certain times when a crossfade or hard cut can be distracting to your video.

A natural transition is achieved using elements of the scene while shooting, rather than adding something artificial in post-production. There are many ways to create natural wipes, dissolves and other effects — your creativity is your only limit! Our pals over at Framelines TV have put together a handy guide that demonstrates a few great examples. Take a look below!



A Few Popular Natural Transitions:

Whip Pan
A special type of pan shot in which the camera moves sideways so quickly that the picture blurs into indistinct streaks. This kind of transition is great for alluding to the passage of time or indicating a frenetic pace of action.

Body Wipe
Allow a person to approach the camera, or walk in front of the camera, until the shot is completely obscured and goes black. Reverse for the start of the next shot.

Cutting on Motion
Let's say we have a scene where two characters, Andrea and Dan, are in a meeting, and Dan needs to go to the bathroom. Shoot this part of the scene from two angles, a wide shot of Dan and Andrea at the conference table, and a single shot of Dan. In the wide shot he excuses himself, gets up (top of head is cut off when he stands up) and goes to the bathroom. The same action occurs in his single except his head does not get cut off when he stands up. How do we edit these two clips?

Instead of starting with the wide of Dan saying excuse me and then cutting to him standing up, cut as Dan gets up. He begins to stand up in the wide, and then completes the action in his single. By cutting on Dan's motion, we are provided with a way of connecting the two cuts together.

Crossing Audio
In the video above, we see a scene wherein the male character is sitting alone in his room while audio from the following scene begins slightly before we see its source. This technique is especially effective when you're dealing with parallel action or parallel story lines. Jump from one story to another by having audio from one scene occur while the previous (or next) scene is taking place, then cut into the scene wherein the actual audio occurs. This helps to emphasize the similarities between the two events.

Ready for a challenge?

Now that you're well versed in the magic of natural transitions, see if you can incorporate one in a short, 2min. narrative video.

Accept this challenge

Category:
Shooting
Difficulty:
Beginner

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Lesson Summary

Transitions-- they're a video's best friend. You know, the under-appreciated friend that works really hard in the shadows while their good-natured yet self-centered compadre takes all the pride and glory. But not today! It's time to take a closer look at the special glue that holds a film together.

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