Creative Reference: The Art of Transitions
Editing often goes unnoticed — which can be a mark of great editing. At times, only detected when the editor or director wants you to notice.
Transitions are an opportunity to advance a story in a quick and inventive way. Graphic match cuts can serve as a tie between two distant places and connect points in time, centuries apart. Deliberate contrast can be used as a clever means to suggest something, unconsciously build tension, or make an audience uneasy. Impact can be shown without physical contact. Sex and violence can be implied without any literal depictions.
The famous shower scene in Psycho is remembered for its violence and horror. But if you watch it back, you won’t see any blood or lacerations.
The link between the prehistoric age and space travel of 2001 is instantly connected by the iconic match cut of bone to spacecraft.
Hitchcock’s scandalous final transition in North by Northwest from passionate embrace to the train entering a tunnel is a cheeky visual pun. Highly controversial at the time of its release.
The bathroom scene from The Shining is unsettling because the 180 degree rule is brilliantly broken. The cut between opposing views is disruptive and uncomfortable.
Luis Bunuel’s horrifying eye-slicer makes everyone cringe, built on suspense and a clever visual match.
Great editing is the unseen hand guiding the audience’s experience of a story, like a skilled puppeteer attempting to conjure responses with a single cut.