Let's Do It, Ground Rules
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Ground Rules

When it comes to video editing, whether digitally on the desktop, or "conventionally" using standard analog video equipment, there are a number of "rules" based on a history of filmmaking that are worth bearing in mind.

 (We could insert some illustrative graphics or even short QT clips illustrating what happens when rules get broken, but let's wait till later to do this.)

  • Don't cut between very similar shots you'll likely notice the action will jump if you do!
  • This is also true if you cut between similarly sized shots taken at two different angles.
  • Minimize cutting between extremes of image size, e.g. a long shot of someone to a big close up of their head.
  • It's usually best not to cut between a still subject and one that's moving very fast. Otherwise the result will be rather jumpy.
  • If one object follows (or pursues) another, make sure they're crossing the frame along the same direction. Opposing directions imply a rendevous or a parting of ways.
  • Avoid cutting shots that cause an object or person to jump across the screen.
  • Watch out of shots that "cross the line," i.e. catch the action from both sides of its path. Inter-cutting these will result in object or person looking left, then suddenly right, which can be very jarring.
  • If a subject exits frame in one shot, make sure they don't appear in the next shot, videotaped from a different angle.
  • If continuity cannot be maintained in the editing (sometimes you may choose to break continuity if, for example, the action is moving to another location or time), consider inserting a so-called "cutaway." (This shot distracts the viewer from the break. However, the cutaway shot you choose should, as far as possible, relate to the main action. For example, a cutting to spectators watching as the basket ball player aims for the net, following their eyes moving along with the ball, then cutting to the ball as it falls into the net.)

Like all "rules," these can be disregarded from time to time. What's important is that your video story flows and engages the audience. If that takes bending the rules, so be it!

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