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The Jump Cut

A jump cut is a transition between two shots which appears to "jump" due to the way the shots are framed in relation to each other. Jump cuts are usually caused by framing which is quite similar, such as these two:

1st shot   Jump cut

When the first shot above cuts instantly to the next, the effect is not pleasing. The framing is not different enough to be a new shot — the transition instead appears to be a mistake in editing.

Note: Like all rules of framing, the jump cut rule can be broken. Jump cuts can add impact and tension in the right place. As always, learn how to use the rule before you learn how to break it.

There are two ways to avoid a jump cut:

  1. Zoom instead of cutting.
  2. Make the framing of the two shots completely different.

The following sequence of shots is preferable to the example above:

1st shot  Mid shot  Close up

As you can see, this sequence uses three of the standard shot types (wide shot, mid-shot and MCU). This is a helpful way to avoid jump cuts — you can safely cut between most standard shot types.

Cutting Between People

The jump cut effect is even more disconcerting when it happens between two different subjects. For example, if a shot of one person is followed by a shot of a different person in the same position, it looks like the first person has transformed into the second one. When cutting between different people, pay attention to looking room and other positioning elements. For example: