A fade in is an opening shot or transition technique film editors use to ease viewers into new imagery, rather than using a sudden cut from scene to scene.
Fade ins are not exclusively applied to the visual, either. There are other versions of fades you can use as well, like audio and text fades.
The audio fade.
You can fade audio in or out, similarly to the way video fades work. You can use a gradual increase in music volume to start a scene off with a certain tone or mood. Often, with a slow fade in, audio serves as a bridge between scenes, starting while the image is still black. This is common in documentaries, where you’ll hear narration or an expert speaking on a topic before moving into a scene.
One of the most iconic uses of audio to complement a fade in is in Goodfellas, where the audience hears the sounds of cars zooming by as each title card shows a cast member. After this introduction, the video cuts in, and we see the car containing the characters moving down the highway on their way to perform their evil deeds.
The text fade.
Fading in and out can also be useful for text, and it’s often done for functional purposes. You might be incorporating subtitles into a film, and the way they transition keeps your audience focused on watching rather than reading. There are also many artistic flourishes you can accomplish with a text fade, like title cards or other instances of text being incorporated, like in the film Stranger Than Fiction, where numbers and text are part of the narrative.
When you’re considering how to shift from scene to scene, knowing why you’re doing it is important. Here’s what you can do with fade ins:
- Add a cinematic feeling to the film
- Draw attention, re-engage the audience, and allow for additional micro storytelling points
- Simulate the passage of time or indicate that a new act is beginning in the film
- Give the audience time to take a breath
Applying fade transitions in Adobe Premiere Rush is easy and it gives you complete control over how your transitions work.
Before you start, though, it helps to know some best practices. You want to ensure the clips you’re working with are long enough to apply transitions to. If they’re not, Premiere duplicates frames to make sure the transition is smooth, but this can create some odd effects. “If you’re planning on something important happening in your fade in, you probably want to shoot a little bit extra so you can account for that fade in,” says cinematographer Paulius Kontijevas.
Sticking to the basics while you’re learning is a great idea as well. Once you’ve learned the rules, you can break them, but at first, focus on getting your timing right.
Transitions are just one tool in the filmmaker’s kit. For first-time filmmakers, there are hundreds of tutorials and guides available to help you learn the basics of filmmaking, from shooting to the edit bay. The word of the day is experiment. Learn what works and what doesn’t, and before long you’ll be piecing together compelling films.
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