Cut or fade?

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Gladders
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Joined: Apr 28 1999

With a few exceptions I tend to use straight cuts or fades in my editing, cuts feeling more 'honest'. But there are times when I seem to get trapped into long sequences of fades.

An example of using an unusual transition was when editing some white water rafting video. I used a 'paint splatter' effect. It complements the flying spray and splashing so well that you're hardly aware of it.

How do others make the decision about transitions? Do you have, or are there any general 'rules' about what to use and when?

Paul

Paul

tom hardwick
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Joined: Apr 8 1999

Interesting, as I too got hooked on "gradient wipe" for a lot of scene changes in an underwater movie. As to your paint spatter Paul - is it the Premiere transition and therefore un-customizable? I find I always want more small area spattering than the transition gives me.

tom.

Gladders
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Yes it was the Premiere transition. I agree it would be more useful if it were customizable, but worked OK in this particular case. The pattern of splatter is always the same, but there is so much real splatter going on that you don't notice.

Paul

Paul

Alan Roberts at work
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Interesting topic.

If you ask any broadcast editor what transitions he uses, he'll almost always say "straight cuts for 99% of the time". Look at almost any tv programme and check for yourself. Editing for tv, when the programme is to be seen once and once only, you don't want trickery to get in the way of the story, so you set a pattern early on and stick to it. Clever dissovles, wraps round Coke tins etc are all very clever, but real-world tv programme makers don't use 'em at all.

I generally stick with cuts. I use a fade to make a point, but don't labour it. I tend to put a lot of Picture-in-Picture effects when I've got a complex story to tell, so that you don't see it all in one go, the auduience stays awake and will want to see it several times.

But whatever style you choose, stick with it for the entire programme, don't chop and change, it makes it look messy, as though more than one editor's had a bite at it. Define your style, and use it (until the next programme, when you can define a new one).

My 2 pen'orth.

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tom hardwick
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I agree Alan. Straight cuts get the story told, no messin'. But underwater straight cuts tended to make it look as if I'd surfaced for air between shots, whereas the gradient wipe "kept me down there". My 4/6d

tom.

Rookie
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Joined: Sep 27 1999

"...are there any general 'rules' about what to use and when?"

Well, there used to be...

Straight cuts except when there is a change in time, like a couple of days passing, couple of minutes, whatever. then use fades.

Cross-fade when moving to a new location.

Although these rules are not used as strictly as they once were they actually still work.

Rookie

Alan Roberts at work
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The only rule is "don't use an effect if it detracts from the story".

That leads to style-setting, where you start off one way and stay there. Don't mix cuts withe fades/wipes etc. Drama is almost always cuts-only. Rock video, anything goes. in-between, well, set your style and use it until a sudden change from it wakes the audience up.

Another old adage in pro-programme-making is "if they can see how you did it, you've got it wrong".

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Rookie
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Alan Robets wrote:"The only rule is "don't use an effect if it detracts from the story"

..or: There are NO rules, only conventions...

(or something like that).
Anyway, I still believe (historically at least) the fade used to mean change of time, and cross-fade change-of-place.

But I could just be a silly-stubborn-bastard...

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Alan Roberts at work
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OK, I'll buy that. Conventions, not rules. But I still think it makes sense not to use effects that get in the way of the story-telling. Look at tv programmes and you'll see what I mean, cuts 99% of the time, other effects only when they make a statement that's "needed" in the eyes of the director/editor.

For all the clever trickery that editing software can do (plus all the similar wipes and fades that hardware mixers can do), 90% of editing is getting the sound right, 9.9% is cuts-only video editing, 0.1% is fancy tricks.

Rookie
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Agreed!

"The only rule is don't use an effect if it detracts from the story".

-Personally I believe this rule... er, convention also applies into the shooting. I quite often finds new big-budget movies to be so full of over-fancy-shots designed to make you go "Wow, how did they do that!?"

I believe this is quite distracting since you suddenly remember you are "only" watching a film and are no longer a part of the "reality" created on the screen...

Rookie

Alan Roberts at work
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Quite right, we're in the business of getting the punter (sorry, viewer) to "temporally suspend his disbelief". Anything we do that reminds him he's watching telly is a bad thing.

Curiously though, drama producers/directors/DoPs all seem to want the "film-look" so that we are continually reminded that we're not actually watching reality. But I suspect it's a fashion thing, and will go away when they all grow up

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Rookie
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Alan Roberts wrote: "Curiously though, drama producers/directors/DoPs all seem to want the "film-look" so that we are continually reminded that we're not actually watching reality. "

I know we're coming dangerously close to starting of the film vs. video debate once more, but here goes:

I do think your statement about the "film-look" is a bit harsh. I'm not sure video are any more "real" than film...

OK, generally speaking the video gives bigger depth of field and it could be argued that this mimics the way the eye works.

But: If you look at something nearby, your mind sort of discards objects in the distance. So by having a narrower field of depth you get the viewer to focus on the object he is supposed to. Of course this also has to do with lighting and composition but you probably know what I mean.

And it is much easier to keep continuity when you don't have to worry quite as much about the background.

All this said, I DO love working with video, but I think the "video-look" and the "film-look" differs enough that they could almost be defined as different art-forms. (Speaking in broad-terms of course).

Rookie

[This message has been edited by Rookie (edited 05 February 2001).]

[This message has been edited by Rookie (edited 05 February 2001).]

Alan Roberts at work
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I wasn't giving my own opinion, I was passing on what has been said to me. Personally, I'm with you on film and video being media in their own right, but they inevitably get mixed together these days. TV dramas are shot on video and on film, and edited as video or film. Movie films are being shot on video and edited before printing back to film. Every possible combination is being used somewhere. A recent BBC drama was shot on 35mm film, transferred from negative to HDTV and edited in HD before downconvertion to standard definition. It still looks like film to me (grainy, jerky, high contrast compression), so the post-production didn't delete any wanted effects.

Two things tv drama folks seem to want in the "film-look" are, shallow DoF to isolate objects, and jerky motion. I've talked to many Producers/Directors/DoPs on this, and always got the same answers, although the words they use need converting into science first.

The shallow DoF comes with large aperture lenses on large format cameras, 2/3" is about as small as you can go and still get the effect, but it needs lenses opeing to about f1.2, expensive but equivalent to about f4.5 in 35mm movie film. There's also another effect that some call differential focus, the effect that out-of-focus planes are softer in film than in video, that's caused by the lower MTF of film, and is a doddle to do in video, just turn off the aperture corrector.

They all want a "veiling" on the picture, to separate the viewer from the "excessive reality" of video footage. This seems to be the jerky motion that we get from scanning 24fps film into interlaced video where each image is output twice, causing two time-lines. The eye cannot fuse them back together into smooth motion, and so interprets it as jerky motion. Personally, I've never thought of video as being excessively real, it's rather hard to get it to be anything like "real", but then, I'm not a drama producer.

I like film for some things, but can't see why tv programmes should be made on film. The US tv industry makes a much larger proportion of its output on film than Europe does, but then they're a film nation anyway.

[This message has been edited by Alan Roberts at work (edited 05 February 2001).]

Jim Bird
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Joined: Sep 15 2000

Hi,

In my most recent video I used the "flip over" Transition (Prem 4.2) to indicate a chance in place and time.

The time and place changed on four occasions during the 50 minute video. On one occasion I flipped back from where I had flipped to 5 minutes earlier.

I think my audience enjoyed the 'flipping' wipe, while, at the same time they could easily uderstand the visual meaning.

Jim Bird.

cresby
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Joined: Oct 5 2000

At the end of the day your audience see it once and you see it dozens. They get one chance for meaning and fast cuts only allow shallow interpretation. Fine for fast moving action but not for conveying subtlety.
The syntax of your story has to work WITH the viewer and scene changes are the punctuation and paragraphs, seen that way the choices can be a bit more obvious.
Good Luck
exit stage left & fade to bl..........

Mr Red

Alan
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Joined: Feb 15 2001

I worked , for nearly 10 years, as a Director of Corporate film and video and was taught editing by an experienced film editor in Shepperton Studios. His view was that sequences should consist of cuts, but that ending a sequence could justify a fade, thereby denoting that you were about to move on to the next sequence.
A dissolve (or mix) should mean 'therefore' or be used to denote the passage of time.
A left to right 'Wipe' should be used to follow the movement of an object within the scene such as a car going left to right, thereby using the motion to lead us into the next scene.
Making the whole film flow is what it is all about - unless you deliberately want to make it all jar and irritate your audience.

I was told that it's a bad Director who uses dissolves all the time as it shows he does not know how to link two shots together or is the result of bad planning at the shooting stage.
An example is at the end of a Western where the Cowboy rides into the sunset diagonally in a left to right direction. There is then a disssolve and the cowboy is seen riding into the same sunset but moving from right to left. The dissolve has been used to camouflage some ineptitude on the part of the Director who got his 'line of action' wrong.
I've just become interested in DV after telling myself that I did not miss making movies for over 10 years. We now have all sorts of wonderful transitions to use - many of which copy things we've seen on TV, so therefore we feel we want to use them to make our films look as good as TV.
It's the old 'kid in the candy shop' routine. Think back to when Super 8 film was king. When someone bought their first camera with a zoom lens, the audience was hurtled through space at the speed of an insect on drugs. After a while, the camera person learned that audiences didn't like to be made to feel sick and left the zoom button alone.
It all comes with experience. Is what you are doing natural or is it just a gimmick?
If you have a good story, do you need fancy effects?
Are the effects in keeping with the style of the film you're making.
Intelligence, sensitivity and judgement are all qualities we posess in varying quantities.
Think about what you are doing with care- don't just slap on a nearby effect.

Alan Roberts
Alan Roberts's picture
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Alan, that's an eloquent explanation of exactly what I meant, make your transitions mean something. And if there's no meaning for it to have, don't have it, just use a cut.

If your movie is to be seen once and once only, keep the techniques out of the way. Above all, don't let the technology get in the way of the story.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Gladders
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Joined: Apr 28 1999

Thanks Gentlemen. It's one of those strange paradoxes that the work of a good editor should not be noticed.

Paul

Paul

Alan
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Here I go again. Following on from the last post about the work of a good editor not being noticed, a good editor will even hide his cuts.
This can be achieved by cutting on the action. If we have a scene where a character is sitting at a table with a drink and has to raise the drink to their mouth, we may start off fairly wide but want to see the look on the character's face in more detail.
Cutting from wide shot to close up on the motion of lifting the drink from the table will hide the cut and make it flow.
To make the cut work properly you have to cut out of the wide shot at a point where the drink is in mid air then cut into the close up at a point where the glass has moved a little bit further on. This is because the brain needs time to 'allow for the cut'. If you cut from wide to close up with the glass in exactly the same position, it looks as if the glass has jumped back a bit or hung in space for a while.
I call this good editing because it's clever and nobody sees it.
If someone says "I thought the editing was good", it means they've noticed it - which is a cause for concern and certainly not a compliment.
It's a bit like someone saying "That's a good advert". If they then can't remember the name of the product, then it's not.
Hope I'm not boring anyone.
Alan

Gladders
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Not at all, Alan. These are just the sort of things I want to read about. And anyway, if people do find a topic boring they don't have to read it. It would die a natural death.

Paul

Paul

tom hardwick
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Alan - when you talk of good editing passing unseen I think you should qualify this by saying that to the general (film technique uneducated) public it's invisible.

I certainly look out for and enjoy discovering good editing as I'm sure a lot of readers here do too. When the great unwashed say they like the editing they're probably refering to the style rather than the technique. It's jumped up and hit them - most usually because of its unusualness.

tom.

Jim Bird
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Hi,

I use the "Horizontal flip" filter in Prem 4.2 when ever I have a right to left shot that needs to be a right to left shot and vice versa.

I use this filter because the squirrel never runs in the desired direction.

Never work with..................

Jim Bird.

Jim Bird
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Hi,

Oops! Spot the howler in the above posting

Jim Bird.

Alan
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Joined: Feb 15 2001

Tom,
Over the years I've learned to switch off the 'techie' in me and just try to enjoy the film as a viewer. But, I agree, there are things that you do admire because of your background that some people don't appreciate and sometimes no amount of explanation will ever make them do so.
We can, however, learn from the unaware audience as sometimes a remark from a viewer may seem strange but make you stop and wonder why they said it. Could it be that the person just has an odd viewpoint?
If more than one person says it without prompting you have to ask yourself if there's something that can be learnt from it.
Oh - let's just enjoy life!

Alan Roberts
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I can see that I don't need to post much here any more. You chaps are saying it all for me.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Keitht
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Joined: Jan 8 2001

I've just returned from a holiday in Tenerife (bit warmer there at present) where I went on a Jeep Safari. Towards the end of the trip we were taken to view the video that had been taken of the day. The guy who had been doing the video work on the trip was actually editing in real time as we watched on screen. Combining footage of the day with stock scenery shots.
What's the point of this rambling I hear you ask ?
Well, despite the fact that I was impressed at the speed with which the final video was put together I was constantly distracted by the use of a mixture of cuts and fades. It actually got to the point where I was more engrossed in checking what transition was going to be used next than in the content of the video.
This may, in part, be down to the fact that I am new to video editing but I also think it supports the basic comments made in this thread ... You shouldn't notice the joins. Playing around too much is definitely distracting.

Regards Keith

johnpr98
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Joined: Aug 20 1999

Something to peruse about transitions http://www.greatdv.com/post/transitions.htm

Your jeep safari reminds me of my Cyprus jaunt in the Troudos mountains, riding in a landrover safari, Video F/X galore filmed by the guides

johnpr98
http://www.johnpr98.com

[This message has been edited by johnpr98 (edited 10 March 2001).]

johnpr98
 
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Alan Roberts at work
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Yes, the greatdv site agrees with everything we've been saying. Use effects to tell the story, don't use the story to tell about the effects.

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James Iles
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I don't think I've ever thought there could be such a long discussion over cuts and fades. In my opinion there is that moment when just about any human being would indulge in the visual gimmicks, I do. This is because it's all down to experimentation. You see all these strange and weird transitions in such editing applications as Video Wave and Premiere and I am certainly interested to see what they look like. It doesn't mean I keep them in my final production. In general I use cuts, especially in my narrative work. In my most recent project I only fade in at the beginning, cut throughout the film and fade out at the end. No dissolves, and it looks great. In general I use the special effect transitions for title sequences. But for every project, if you have a non-linear editing suite and no deadline the best thing you can do is experiment and try out whatever enters your mind. Perhaps you could ask your audience what they think of your films?

Gladders
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Thanks again for all the input. I agree that a certain amount of experimentation teaches you a lot, even if it's only not to do it in future. So generally cuts are best. There are situations where long disolves (correcting my initial inacuracy) are used even by the professionals. For example, sequences to music, looking at landscapes or a building.

Paul

Paul

Alan Roberts at work
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Yes, spot on. You'll find that any transition, used sparingly or in keeping, is ok. Once you've set the pattern, then stick with it. The biggest problem is the "kid with the nw toys" effect, when you use each transition once and end up with te proverbial dog's breakfast.

I stick with cuts normally, but I sometimes use slow dissolves on architecture, particularly if I'm comparing similar buildings, when the dissolve can give some nice "in between" effects. Basically, anything goes, but you have to avoid driving your viewer potty with overuse of smart-arse tricks. But you knew that anyway

Jim Bird
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Hi,

Good clips are never forgotten, they just fade away.

Jim Bird.

Mad_mardy
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Joined: Oct 19 2000

actually a fade signals the end of a paticular section whereas a cross dissolve is normal timelapse or location change in all honesty there are no rules go with your instincts,and if it isn't justified don't do it.

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MRT
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Ive just finished reading these posts and what you say bites home. Being new to NLE but now trying to make sense of all my collected video taken over 10 years. I find I have committed all the errors. Using the camera like a garden hose, zooming, fading and jerking which brings me to my request.

I want to keep as much as I can in the finished assembled edited version so what advice can you good people offer as to a method to tidy up my clips and cover as much of my bad videography possible and what doctrine should I follow. I cannot throw it all away as some shots are of relatives that are not with us anymore.

I managed to stay with you on most statements but I couldent get a handle on crossfades.

Its interesting hearing experts strut their stuff.

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Alan Roberts at work
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I'd leave it alone, regard it as an archive. After all, you knew no better then ( ), and, as you say, you don't really want to throw away any shots that are of sentimental or family value. They'll understand, it's part of the learning process, we've all had to go through it.

tom hardwick
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That's true Alan. You should read some of William Shakespeare's early efforts. Crap.

Alan Roberts at work
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Tom, was that ("Crap") a comment or an instruction?

tom hardwick
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Oh, a comment on Bill's early work of course. I haven't had the pleasure of seeing Alan's early work.

Gladders
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...Pleasure?

Paul