A few months ago some colleges and I got together for a day of filming new material for one of the classes we teach. During the day we also decided to shoot a couple of example pieces which demonstrate video concepts that are often tricky to explain using words alone. One such concept is the “jump cut”.

The Jump Cut

Essentially, a jump cut is an edit between two sequential shots that varies in framing only slightly. This causes the cut point to “jump” from the last frame of the first piece of video, to the first frame of the second piece of video. The effect is often a jarring one and thus jump cuts generally should be avoided as they call unnecessary attention to the construction of the edit.

Jump cuts aren’t always bad however. They can be a way to show the progression of time or movement in a stylistic/edgy way. Jump cuts are often used purposefully in music videos and action movies to show someone walking from place to place, or participating in an activity which would be monotonous to watch in its entirety (someone drinking 4 beers for example).

A key difference between the “good” and “bad” jump cuts is that the “good” (or at least purposeful) jump cuts generally have the shot/camera “locked off”. That is, the camera is on a tripod and doesn’t move between shots. The only thing that does move is what’s within the frame.

Anyway, we made a video for a reason, it’s a lot easier to see the difference than to read about it. Please find the video below.

For a bit more detail on jump cuts, and the history behind them, please click here.