When you’re in the business of video, every frame counts. Viewers might be more forgiving with 6-second teasers and 30-second promos, but anything that enters into minute-long territory is judged far more harshly. Attention spans go extinct, viewer retention plummets, and the message is lost.
It goes without saying that content is important. But style tugs at you. The thinking viewer will listen to what you’re saying, but the feeling viewer will expect you to guide them with your direction. We hire videographers because they have the experience to make targeted videos that can hook viewers.
So, how do they keep longer offerings interesting? More ways than we can possibly cover in one blog post, so we’ll only go over jump cuts, match cuts, and juxtaposition. Popular Youtubers use all 3, but these techniques have been around since the age of silent film. We’ll go over each one, why it works, and then include some examples.
1. The Jump Cut
We see so many jump cuts on a daily basis that the non-initiated among us probably don’t even know they have a name. Jump cuts are quick transitions between shots that feature the same subject, and are popularly employed by Youtube celebrities to turn an otherwise slow-paced vlog into a word-spaz.
It goes without saying that overusing jump cuts can be a bad idea, because pauses are still an essential part of pacing. That being said, some Youtube celebrities have literally built their entire vlogging style and presentation around the use of jump cuts, most notably Philip DeFranco.
2. The Match Cut
The terms “match cut” and “jump cut” are often used interchangeably and mistakenly. A match cut is a cut from one subject to another, often entirely different subject. The common denominator is a geometrical and logical conservation of an object from one scene to the next.
Cleverly executed match cuts are unexpected, and that’s why they hook viewers. One of the most famous in cinematic history comes when Peter O’Toole blows out an actual match in an opening scene of Lawrence of Arabia.
In terms of business video, match cutting is popularly used for promotional videos and large-scale commercials to up a video’s edge. Take this recent example from NBA.com (the match cuts come near the end).
Juxtaposition is one of the few video “cuts” that also appears frequently in professional writing (some may even argue that juxtaposition is what makes writing good). Two juxtaposed scenes can be related in any way, and sometimes the relationship is precarious, but they’re often compliments or counterbalances.
Juxtaposition in film is often used to convey irony, such as in The Godfather’s famous murder sequence, in which Michael Corleone renounces Satan during his baby nephew’s baptism ceremony (while his soldiers go out and execute his political enemies one by one).
Full disclosure: there will be blood.
Juxtaposition is more “artsy” than jump cuts and match cuts, and also much harder to pull off. Juxtaposing two scenes together in a way that makes sense and gets a viewer to go, “Okay, I get that,” isn’t as easy as cutting and pasting your vlog together. Business videos don’t often employ juxtaposed scenes, but when they do it’s usually humorous. Take this Barclay’s scene.