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Perfect Video Transitions: How & Why to Get Them Right (The First Time)

When you want to move from one shot to another, you usually want it to look as unobtrusive and smooth as possible. This usually means using transitions.

The type of transition you use will be determined by the style of your film and the requirements of the two pieces of footage you’re moving between. Let's look at how you can make the best choices when it comes to your own transitions.

Why Use Transitions

Transitions are simply a way to move seamlessly from one piece of footage to another. Some of the most common video transitions are:

  • Dissolve: where one clip fades into another
  • Wipe: of which there are various but where one clip replaces the other quickly and distinctly
  • Cutaway: a hard cut (or jump) to the next clip
  • Fade: the clip fades in (or out) to (or from) black
  • Zoom: we zoom into one clip quickly morphing into another

You might want to think about using certain types of transitions for style reasons – if you have something hi-tech for example, you might want to use something that makes use of glitches or looks very digital to help emphasise that. If you’re trying to create the look of a particular era, then you might use transitions that reflect that.

Your choice will impact your audience, so you need to be aware of the statement you’re making with your transition – do you want to pull your audience out of the moment or do you want them to be immersed in it?

Using certain transitions can also help with a change of tempo. If there’s a big scene change you might want to make an impact by using something fast and dramatic. Say you have some people talking and then an explosion happens, using a gentle fade just wouldn’t be appropriate, you’d want something hard and fast like a cutaway.

How to Use Transitions

Be Consistent

You don’t have to use 100% the same style of transitions through your film, but you should ideally avoid using a different type of transition for each cut!

Choose Your Transition Carefully

In a professional piece, unless you’re being hilariously ironic, it’s probably best to stay away from flouncy transitions, like a star wipe, for example.

Be Subtle

As with most things in film, you generally don’t want people to notice your transitions as anything stand out, ideally, they’ll flow with the rest of your footage. Generally, a straight forward cut or cross-fade is enough to move the piece along.

Try a Template

If you’re looking for something a little bit different from the standard transitions an editing suite has to offer, then why not try a template? At Envato Elements there’s a transition pack for just about every occasion and you can download as many as you like once you’re subscribed. Here’s an example:

Transitions – For Adobe After Effects

This pack of 30 transitions has plenty of choice for your video projects. If you’re creating something that can include a little fun and frivolity then you’ll love these transitions – great for personal films, commercial presentations and much more.

Transitions  For Adobe After Effects
Transitions – For Adobe After Effects

More Great Transition Tutorials & Templates

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