Film School: 10 Simple Editing Tips

J-cut, L-cut J-cut, L-cut

Handy hints for beginners – and evergreen reminders for those with more experience.

Sven (aka This Guy Edits) is an editor, and an educator with a focus on beginners. He offers seven tips for better editing:

… plus another three “beginner mistakes” to avoid:

This Guy Edits | Editing Tips
Editing Tips | This Guy Edits

What We’ve Learned

  1. Don’t Cut – Build! – rather than trimming out the start and end of a take, instead try selecting only the most interesting part of each take, and building a rough cut from that. It’s a quick way to generate interesting storytelling.
  2. Picture and sound should converge, not diverge – the greater the distance between visual and audio, the harder it is for the viewer to follow
  3. Enter late, leave early – if each clip only features its peak moment of tension, then the entire edit will be a collection of tensions, making for a more engaging viewing experience
  4. Look Over Here! – remember: each cut tells the audience “This matters”.
  5. (What Sven calls) “Misdirection” – occasionally, you can draw the viewer’s eye away from what they think they want to see, to give them room to reflect on, or imagine what’s happening in, the scene or story
  6. Look for the Eyes – eye movements and blinks can be edit points
  7. Feel the Edit – intuition can trump logic or reason
  8. Selecting – view all the footage before you begin cutting
  9. J and L cuts – don’t forget, you can use them.
  10. Workflow – from file management to test-cutting, Sven explains his personal workflow in detail in the second video.

Further viewing

J-cuts and L-cuts, defined | Vimeo
J-cuts and L-cuts, defined | Vimeo

Check out Vimeo Blog’s guide to J cuts and L cuts, defined (above). Then take a look at the way Now You See It‘s video essay on sound design uses J cuts almost exclusively, to transition from example to example, so that we hear the next scene before we see it:

Looking for more techniques? Try J + L Cuts, but between scenes:

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