What is a contrast cut in a film?
Learn more about this essential editing technique and how to use it in your films to create a striking visual impact.
When you shoot a film, you’re creating a visual story that can become even more compelling with the right type of edits. A contrast cut is just one of many creative edits you can employ in your editing process. Let’s learn more about this cutting technique and how you can use it to amplify the visual language of your video or short film.
Create visual impact with contrast cuts.
A contrast cut is a strategic type of cut that juxtaposes two starkly different scenes. Video editors use contrast cuts to create a sense of dissimilarity that heightens the emotion of a scene or emphasizes the intention of particular moments. These cuts can be visual or auditory, with the most successful shots more often including both.
Example of an effective contrast cut.
A typical example of a contrast cut is a dream sequence. In scene A, the main character is in a dark, burning building. Time is running out for an escape, and the loud pops and cracks of falling wooden beams and the dramatic swell of music elevate the overall sense of urgency. When the character’s fate is about to be decided, the shot cuts to scene B, where the character wakes in a bright, peaceful bedroom with birds chirping and no sense of chaos or impending peril.
This cut effectively creates visual contrast (dark, burning building vs. bright bedroom) and audible contrast (falling beams, intense music vs. birds chirping) between the two scenes. Long gone are the days when video editing simply meant shortening a film’s length or cutting mistakes. Video editing is an artistic endeavor in itself — one that is just as important (and creative) as capturing raw footage.