What is a jump cut?
In filmmaking, a jump cut is an edit to a single, sequential shot that makes the action appear to leap forward in time. After the cut, the subject may appear in a different position or attitude, or the camera position may be slightly different. This cut style is a great departure from the standard conventions of continuity editing, which dictate that the camera angle should change by at least 30 degrees from one clip to the next.
A brief history of the jump cut.
In the early 1900s, filmmaker Georges Méliès discovered the jump cut and used it to portray magic tricks. With cuts that appeared seamless, Méliès made characters magically disappear and reappear.
Jump to 1959 and Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless. Godard broke the rules with obvious jump cuts in the same sequence. During a driving scene, the camera angle remains the same, over the shoulder of the character Patricia in the passenger seat, but the scenery in the background changes abruptly.
The effect of the discontinuity is to disorient the viewer and draw attention to the artificial nature of film. Some claim that Godard was forced by the producer to make drastic cuts to the film, so he cut it haphazardly out of spite, accidentally creating one of the most influential films of the French New Wave.
Since Godard, filmmakers have used jump cuts in countless creative ways. These cuts can work with dramatic or comedic effect to show the passage of time as a character changes positions in a single shot. They can use a single camera position to show a character covering a great distance without making the audience watch every step. Jump cuts can also portray the point of view of an intoxicated or disoriented character without resorting to special effects.