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Month: February 2021

Editing: J and L Cuts

Editing: J and L Cuts

My Workstation - Video editing
“My Workstation – Video editing” by Rego – is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

SFX Secrets: The J Cut & The L Cut

  • J Cut: the audio of a shot or a scene precedes the visual
  • L Cut: the audio from one shot carries over to the next shot
  • Each cut got its name from how it appears in an ending sequence
    • J cut makes a J shape when editing, while an L cut makes an L shape
  • Almost every film includes some degree of one of these cuts
  • Allows editor to break up a conversation and create a more natural flow with reaction shots
  • Scenes have a colder, machine-like feel without any J or L cuts
  • These cuts are commonly used in dream sequences or flashbacks
  • J cuts tend to express urgency when transitioning
    • Creates the feeling of cutting a scene short
  • L cut creates the feeling of dragging a scene out longer
  • J cut at the beginning of a film captivates us
    • Wondering what image will match with the sound we’re hearing
  • L cut at the end of a film creates the feeling that the film continues even after the credits roll
  • J cuts can emphasize the meaning of certain words/lines
  • L cuts sometimes used as character’s narration over a montage
    • Given images to support the words of the character

Example of a J Cut and an L Cut

After watching the video linked above and taking some notes, I decided that I should try out a J cut and an L cut on my own. I quickly got my phone and recorded some random dialogue that I could put together as an example for each type of cut. Each example that I made in iMovie was just a few seconds long, but clearly showed the cut in question. I chose not to include my two examples in this blog post, as their sole purpose was just for me to get used to J and L cuts, not to share out. However, I did write down some brief ideas for short films that include a J or L cut. I haven’t had enough time this week to actually film the scenes and edit them, but I’m hoping I’ll have the opportunity to execute the concepts I’ve come up with in the future.

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