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Video Transitions

Simple Transitions (Shot A to Shot B)

Cut: A changes instantly to B

Crossfade: A merges (fades) into B

Wipe: A is progressively replaced by B

The way in which any two video shots are joined together is called the transition. Transitions are very important — everyone from the camera operator to the editor must have a good understanding of how to make effective transitions (see the links at the bottom of the page).

The most common transition is the cut, in which one shot changes instantly to the next. The next most common transition is the crossfade (AKA mix or dissolve), where one shot gradually fades into the next. Advanced transitions include wipes and digital effects, where shots whiz about or do complex changes whilst leading into the next.

You can also think of a moving shot as being a transition from one shot to a new one, e.g. a pan from one person to another, or a zoom from a mid-shot to a close-up.

Transitions can be a lot of fun but be warned: Over-using transitions is a common mistake made by amateurs. In most professional productions, almost all transitions are simple cuts or crossfades. Too many animated transitions are distracting and impact on the flow of the video.

Although it is important to choose an appropriate type of transition, the real issue is how well the two shots fit together. Ask yourself:

Creating Transitions

A cut doesn't need any sort of processing — one shot ends and the next begins. Other types of transition can be added in several ways:

  1. In-camera: Some cameras come with built-in transitions and fades.
  2. Generating Device: In live productions, transitions can be added in real-time using special effects generators. Most vision switchers include a selection of transitions.
  3. Post-Production: Transitions can be added during editing, using appropriate software.

More information: