Video Production

What is a Jump Cut in Video Editing?

Learn all about jump cuts, from their history through to how to do jump cuts yourself. A vital part of editing, explained!

Jump cuts show up everywhere. From Hollywood movies to YouTube vlogs, 60s cinema to contemporary technique - they’re an important part of any filmmaker’s toolkit. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about them! 

What is a Jump Cut? 

To best understand jump cuts, you need to know what a regular ‘cut’ is. A regular cut happens when two pieces of film are put together - this used to be done via physically cutting reels of film and attaching them, hence the name. To the viewer, this appears as a simple scene transition - the scene cuts to another. 

A jump cut’s definition is a little different; it happens when one piece of footage has a section removed. The result is an abrupt ‘jump’ in time, instead of a typical scene transition. 

Say you have a 10 second shot of someone crossing a road. If you remove the middle 6 seconds, the result will be them stepping onto the road, then immediately walking off it on the other side. That’s a jump cut! 

What is Jump Cut in Film? 

You can see jump cuts in movies everywhere, for a multitude of reasons. The above example is the most basic form - it can be used in a ton of different ways. Here’s a gif of the most famous jump cut in cinema: 

What is a Jump Cut in Video Editing?

Taken from Godard’s Breathless (1960), it’s super simple. If you hear ‘what are jump cuts?’, link this gif! In order to reduce the overall running time of the movie, several scenes had sections removed to free up precious seconds. The result is a snappy style, characteristic of Godard that still inspires cinematography to this day. But the original purpose was via necessity; this car journey took up too much time, so the middle of it was removed. There are other similar jump cuts caused by necessity - older, pre-digital classics like It’s a Wonderful Life have a few moments where dirty/burned/worn film were snipped out. 

That being said, jump cuts in film are also used for creative choice. A good example is how the, well, ‘jumpy’ effect is often used in frantic or tense search scenes, like this one from District 9. The technique merges with the handheld camera point-of-view, adding to the chaos that ensues

What is a Jump Cut in Editing? 

A vital editing technique, jump cuts are everywhere in editing. You take a single, continuous shot, then remove part of it. This is done for a multitude of reasons, including the removal of dead air (such as during an interview or VLOG), reducing a scene’s length, or for creative effect. 

What is a Jump Cut Example? 

We’ve shown a few examples already, but if you want one of the most clear-cut, obvious examples, here are clip cuts from Little Shop of Horrors. A stationary camera recorded several minutes of film, then the majority was removed to create a 20 second scene:

What is the Purpose of Jump Cuts? 

Jump cuts are simply a technique, so they serve whatever purpose the editor needs them to. Aforementioned examples like time constraints and quality issues can force jump cuts upon a film, whereas creative direction like the videos just above can create tension or comedy. 

You can even compose a video almost solely of jump cuts if the effect works well. Footage filmed with jump cuts in mind has a lot of potential. The music video for Wang Chung’s Everybody Have Fun Tonight is a great jump cut editing example of sequential editing: 

What is the Difference Between a Cut and a Jump Cut? 

A cut is when two different pieces of footage are joined together; the transition between them is the cut. 

A jump cut is when one piece of footage has something removed; the abrupt time skip is the jump cut. 

Why Do YouTubers Use Jump Cuts? 

Jump cuts became extremely popular on YouTube as a way of tidying up footage. A vlog, talking-head video, interview, etc - they are all prone to random sounds, re-takes, pauses, breathing. Due to the one-shot format these videos are usually recorded in, lots of jump cuts are an effective way to make dialogue seem continuous. YouTubers can also record with this in mind, moving position regularly so the final product will have more variance. Check out this (pretty meta) example: 

How Do You Use a Jump Cut? 

It’s a super simple technique, no matter the editing software you use. The tricky part is deciding when one should be used, or how to do it effectively. Check out our tutorial about how to do jump cut video editing: 

How Do You Jump Cut in Premiere Pro? 

Premiere Pro is a perfect jump cut video editor. Here’s our tutorial on jump cut editing in Premiere Pro: 

How Do You Cover Jump Cuts? 

Our advice would be not to cover up jump cutting - embrace it as part of your filmmaking style, aesthetic and technique! Having to incorporate a jump cut you didn’t expect can be annoying, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Learn how to do them effectively with the above tutorial, or use something like an audio repair plugin to reduce the need for bad audio to be cut out/etc! 

December 02, 2021
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