What is a direct cut in filmmaking?

Learn more about this abrupt type of cut and when you should use it in your video editing process.

Film cutting isn’t just a technical aspect in video editing — it’s a creative aspect too. Editors can use different cuts and transitions to evoke emotions, convey purpose, bring the viewer back in time, or simply move the storyline forward. Let’s explore one of the most common cuts every film editor should know: the direct cut.

Define a direct cut.

A direct cut is an instantaneous shift from one scene to another. It’s a clean, abrupt cut — one that occurs without any sort of optical transition or flourish (such as a fadeaway or dissolve).

When to use a direct cut in your films.

Though simple, a direct cut is also versatile. At its most basic, you can use this type of cut to move the story to the next shot by, for example, taking the viewer to a different location or into a new time frame.

In other cases, you may want to use a direct cut to introduce a creative element to a scene. For example, when you place multiple direct cuts together in rapid succession — a technique known as dynamic cutting — you can move a viewer through a scene very quickly for narrative purposes. This can heighten the scene’s intensity if you want to add drama or make the viewer pay close attention.

A direct cut is a valuable editing technique for every video or film editor, no matter how you use it. When you’re ready to bring your post-processing skills to the next level, discover more video editing tips that can help inspire your next creative cut and more.

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