What is ripple dissolve in film?

Learn more about this dreamy transition and when you should use it in your video editing process.

Video transitions serve to move one shot to the next — and are a staple of the video editing process. These transitions may only last a few seconds, but they are magic little moments that have the power to convey moods, jump between storylines, and move forward or backward in time. Let’s take a closer look at one particular technique — the ripple dissolve — and how to use it in your editing.

A dreamy transition.

A ripple dissolve falls under a greater umbrella of dissolve transitions. Dissolves overlap two scenes and gradually transition from one to the next — usually the end of one scene into the beginning of the next. A ripple dissolve, in particular, creates a rippling distortion between two scenes — similar to the effect of a raindrop falling into a smooth pond.

This rippling effect is often used to bring the audience from the present to a flashback. You can also use it to represent a character entering into a dream. This transition was iconic in movies of the seventies and eighties — for example, Airplane! — but you’ll notice that it’s used less commonly today.

Go easy on the ripples.

Because of its visual impact and common dream-like association, use this transition sparingly and with intention. If you use the ripple dissolve in the wrong places — such as a transition in which a basic cut would be more appropriate — you risk putting your characters in a dream limbo and, more crucially, confusing your audience. Learn how to edit effectively with artistic transitions and discover even more video editing tips.

From loud, dramatic climaxes to the quieter, subtler moments, remember that every moment of a film is important. Make sure your edits count, and explore everything you can do with Adobe Premiere Pro to create world-class videos.