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:
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:
- Zoom instead of cutting.
- Make the framing of the two shots completely different.
The following sequence of shots is preferable to the example above:
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:
- If both people are facing the camera, you have a jump shot.
- If one person is facing left and the other is facing right (with appropriate looking room), it looks like two people talking to each other.