J and L Cut Notes

  • J Cut: The scenes audio precedes the image
  • L Cut: Audio from one shot carries over to the next
  • Used to create more natural dialogue scenes
  • Without J and L cuts a dialogue scene can seem cold or mechanical which can be an effective stylistic choice
  • J Cuts can make a scene feel urgent by cutting a scene short
  • L Cuts can drag a scene out
  • J and L cuts create significance by showing images associated with the audio
  • Cuts
  • Cutting on Action: Cutting shots while the character is still in action
  • Cut Away: Cutting to an insert shot, can be used to show the thoughts of a character
  • Cross Cut: Cutting between locations, can increase tension, also used to see thoughts of a character
  • Jump Cut: A cut between the same shot, showing the passage of time, can make the scene look hurried
  • Match Cut: Cuts from one shot to a similar shot by matching the action or the composition, can be used in dialogue
  • Transitions
  • Fade in / fade out: Dissolving to or from black
  • Dissolve: Blending a shot into another
  • Smash Cut: Intense transitions. Intense to quiet or vice versa.
  • Iris: Opening and closing the iris of the lens to transition from and into black
  • Wipe: One edge becomes a new scene, wiping across the old scene. Can include other shapes.
  • Invisible Cut: Gives the illusion of a single take by pointing the camera at darkness and bringing it out of that same darkness for the second take. The same effect can be achieved with the camera movement instead of darkness.
  • Transitions can be combined for great effect


  • We will be learning how to combine different transitions and cuts next month.

Story of Film -Episode 5 – Post-War Cinema

1939-1952: The Devastation of War…And a New Movie Language